College football fans are seemingly treated to a handful of top 25 showdowns each week. The coming weekend is no exception. The Red River Rivalry is a perfectly suitable appetizer for the afternoon's game between top five teams: Iowa and Penn State.
Here are the top 2022 NFL Draft prospects to watch in five of the weekend's premier games:
No. 6 Oklahoma at No. 21 Texas
Saturday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. ET on ABC
Oklahoma has differentiated itself from a draft talent perspective in the Red River Rivalry. Quarterback Spencer Rattler has struggled this season but the skills are there for him to be successful. Head coach Lincoln Riley has continued to place his faith in the Arizona native. The rushing attack is led by Kennedy Brooks and Tennessee transfer Eric Gray.
The Sooners front seven is loaded with talent as well. Edge rushers Isaiah Thomas and Nik Bonitto have combined for six sacks. The former looks as though he was developed in a laboratory. Defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey and linebacker Brian Asamoah strengthen that unit up the middle. It is a multiple defense that leans on its versatility.
Recruiting has not been an issue for Texas. Although maybe not to their traditional standards, the Longhorns have still finished with an average final ranking of 7.25 in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings. Linebacker Demarvion Overshown is a modern day linebacker that covers more ground than your cellphone provider. Interior offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter is an intriguing lineman.
Running back Bijan Robinson will not be eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft but he promises to be one of the top running back prospects the following year. He has topped 100 rushing yards in four of his five games this season.
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No. 13 Arkansas at No. 17 Ole Miss
Saturday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
Two programs with relatively new coaches and a growing talent pool. Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman took a 2-10 team from two seasons ago and turned it into a top-ranked team. Outside of being humbled by Georgia, the Razorbacks are undefeated.
Wide receiver Treylon Burks is one of the best game-changing prospects in the nation. He is averaging 17.4 yards on 22 receptions in 2021. Center Ricky Stromberg is one of the top senior centers. Safety Jalen Catalon is undersized and exciting but he needed to clean up his tackling ahead of the season.
The Ole Miss offense embodies head coach Lane Kiffin with its combustible capabilities. Running back Jerrion Ealy is electric in the open field. Quarterback Matt Corral has dual-threat tendencies but he is starting to combine those aspects of his game with a polished product at the line of scrimmage. Offensive tackle Nick Broeker is a physically impressive prospect.
Edge rusher Sam Williams has five sacks in four games. He has length and burst off the edge.
No. 2 Georgia at No. 18 Auburn
Saturday, Oct. 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Georgia safety Tykee Smith made his debut against Vanderbilt after transferring from West Virginia, but wide receiver George Pickens remains out. The Bulldogs are still working to get back to full health, which is scary. No need to feel sorry for Kirby Smart's team. The Bulldogs are loaded up and down the depth chart.
Offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer is leading the way for running back Zamir White and the other talented backs.
Along the front seven, Georgia has defensive tackles Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt, edge rusher Adam Anderson and linebacker Nakobe Dean. The secondary is home to safety Lewis Cine as well as cornerback Derion Kendrick.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix arrived early for Trick-or-Treat dressed as Houdini last week against LSU. He was evading pressure and throwing dimes in that comeback victory. Nix does not have the same level of professional prospects as cornerbacks Roger McCreary and Nehemiah Pritchett, however. Those two, along with defensive tackle Colby Wooden, are the cream of the crop for the Tigers. Wide receiver Demetris Robertson is facing his former team.
No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa
Saturday, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. ET on Fox
College Football Playoff aspirations are on the line. It is the final game of the regular season against a ranked opponent for Iowa. If the Hawkeyes knock off the Nittany Lions, there are good odds that they will be able to skate through the rest of the regular season unscathed.
Penn State has talented offensive tackle Rasheed Walker and explosive wide receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson has 35 receptions for 446 yards and six touchdowns this season. The Pennsylvania native has scored at least one touchdown in each of the team's five games. Both are projected top 100 choices. The defense has linebacker Brandon Smith and cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Smith is an athletic linebacker that is still growing into a larger role absent Micah Parsons.
For Iowa, it is all about blocking. Center Tyler Linderbaum is the best at his position. He is an athletic lineman capable of getting out in wide zone schemes. Tight end Sam LaPorta is a well-rounded tight end that should receive top 100 consideration.
No. 14 Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
Saturday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ACC Network
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton is hands down one of the best defensive prospects in the nation. He shows his range and football IQ down in and out. Isaiah Foskey and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa are the team leaders combining for seven sacks along the defensive line.
The Irish offensive line has always been a staple of the team's success. Center Jarrett Patterson missed a portion of last season with a foot injury but he has returned to establish himself as one of the draft's top centers. He is clearing a path for running back Kyren Williams, who, although undersized, is difficult to contain when the ball is in his hands. He is capable of making an impact through the air as well.
Virginia Tech's outlook is really intriguing. The Hokies have a handful of prospects that flash from one game to the next but have not yet showed sustained success. Tight end James Mitchell was lost for the season with a knee injury. Offensive tackle Luke Tenuta looked much better in the opener against North Carolina than he did two weeks later against West Virginia. He has the profile to be a top prospect at his position if he is able to work through his technical issues consistently. Interior offensive lineman Lecitus Smith initially caught my eye along that Hokies offensive line. Hamilton will have his hands full against wide receiver Tre Turner working out of the slot. Turner has good size and fluidity to maximize his effectiveness after the catch.
Edge rusher Amare Barno is long but slight. He was the source of considerable buzz this offseason but has some work to prove its validity. Cornerback Jermaine Waller already has three interceptions to his name this season. He is a bigger cornerback vying for some discussion among the top cornerbacks.