Mississippi at #14 Mississippi State 6:30 CST on ESPN
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 27, 2017
What to Watch: The Egg Bowl doesn’t have the same appeal as it did a couple years back when Dak Prescott was facing off against Chad Kelly and both teams were ranked in the top 10. That doesn’t mean there isn’t talent in this game as Mississippi State sophomore QB Nick Fitzgerrald (#9 QB) has NFL potential and could be the next Dan Mullen quarterback to have success in the league. But the big time matchup to watch is between Mississippi State LT Martinas Rankin (#5 OT) and Ole Miss DE Marquise Haynes (#6 Edge). Rankin is at his best when he quick sets and attacks at the defensive end using his power and hand strength to lock onto defenders to control them. One area of weakness for Rankin is when he has to make deep drops or slide laterally more than a step or two. That will be tested against Haynes who is an explosive edge rusher who wins with speed around the corner. Haynes has been forgotten about because of Ole Miss’s struggles this year but he still has fringe first round talent and could really use a big game on Thanksgiving as the only college game on.
#2 Miami Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Panthers 11:00 CST on ABC
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 5, 2017
What to Watch: Plenty of under the radar match ups fill up this game making what normally would be a lack luster early morning game something worthwhile. Seeing Pitt’s offensive line face off against the Hurricane defensive line is the premier match up. Pitt brings in two NFL caliber tackles in Brian O’Neill and Jaryd Jones-Smith while center Alex Officer is a possible late round pick. They’ll be facing off against an athletic Hurricane unit that has two quality tackles in Kendrick Norton (#10 DL) and RJ McIntosh while DE Chad Thomas has the size and explosiveness that could really intrigue scouts. Miami’s offense has kept going despite losing RB Mark Walton and a big part of that has been because of their WR core featuring sophomore Ahmmon Richards and Braxton Berrios. The player to watch against this passing attack is Pitt S Jordan Whitehair (#4 S) and his ability to play back and react to the ball in the air.
South Florida Bulls at #15 Central Florida Knights 2:30 CST on ABC
What to Watch: The defacto AAC East Division Championship see’s two talented teams that have some draftable players but no real elite prospects. The best matchup sees South Florida WR Marquez Valdes-Scanting facing off against Central Florida CB Mike Hughes. The 6’5 former NC State transfer has given the Bulls a big play threat. Looking to slow him down is another former transfer in Mike Hughes who came from North Carolina. Hughes at 5’11 doesn’t have the size to bang with Valdes-Scanting but he does have the movement skills to stick with receivers in and out of breaks. There has been some recent buzz on Hughes and a good showing against the bigger receiver here could do wonders for his draft stock.
#25 Virginia Tech Hokies at Virginia Cavilers 7:00 CST on ESPN
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 14, 2017
What to Watch: Against Miami it was the coming out party for QB Kent Benkert who lead the Cavilers to an early lead and really open up some eyes about possibly earning a post season bowl invite and as a draftable late round quarterback. He’ll have a tough test against this Hokie defense that has a loaded secondary with four early to mid round prospects. The main event of this game sees DE Andrew Brown face off against Wyatt Teller. Andrew Brown plays a lot of snaps on the outside when he slides down to rush from the interior it will give us a great match up against VaTech LG Wyatt Teller (#5 OG). Brown has good quickness rushing inside but Teller is solid in pass pro showing good lateral agility and hand placement to cut off pass rushers and lock them down.
#9 Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Wolverines 11:00 CST on Fox
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) June 19, 2017
What to Watch: Whoever wins this game between bitter rivals is likely going to be the team that controls the line of scrimmage because that is exactly where all the best NFL Draft prospect battles will be taking place. When Michigan has the ball they are going to want to pound the ball between the tackles and use their offensive line to lean on the talented Buckeye’s defensive line. The matchup to watch here is LT Mason Cole (#5 C) vs the slew of Buckeyes defensive ends. Whether it’s Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes or even Nick Bosa (not draft eligible), Cole will be tested play after play. When Ohio State has the ball they are going to use their speed to spread out the Michigan defense to create running lanes. Michigan’s front four that is one of the best groups in college football. DT Maurice Hurst (#12 DL) is getting a lot of 1st round attention because of his explosiveness while quietly DE Chase Winovich has tallied up 7 sacks on the year. And this is without saying that true sophomore DE Rashan Gary is a complete stud. Looking to block them is LT Jamarco Jones (#6 OT) and center Billy Price (#2 C). Jones isn’t the best athlete but uses his body and leverage well to wall off blockers while Billy Price has seamlessly transitioned to center utilizing his quickness to create leverage to move defenders.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide at #6 Auburn Tigers 2:30 CST on CBS
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 22, 2017
What to Watch: Like most years the Iron Bowl has major implications as the winner will represent the SEC West and have an inside track to making the college football playoff. Both teams win by running the ball, so the team that’s able to stop the run or make timely plays in the passing game. Auburn has had success with RB Kerryon Johnson running behind an offensive line that has three quality 2018 lineman. LT Austin Golson, RG Braden Smith (#2 G) and RT Darius James will have their hands full with both DT Da’Ron Payne (#3 DL) and DE Da’Shawn Hand. Smith vs Payne is a heavyweight battle of the athletic Smith vs the powerful Payne. If Smith can handle Payne on his own, then the Tigers will be in good shape. Alabama ILB Rashaan Evans (#3 LB) is an athletic and aggressive defender who can run and chase while also creating collisions in the backfield.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 28, 2017
When Alabama has the ball the Tigers will be trying to stop their two headed rushing attack as Bo Scarbrough (#9 RB) is your tough between the tackles runner while Damien Harris is explosive and shifty attacking the holes. In the air the Crimson Tide have two good weapons in Calvin Ridley (#1 WR) and Robert Foster (#13 WR). Auburn has used CB Carlton Davis (#8 CB) to shadow opposing team’s best receivers and they could do that here again on Ridley. If Davis is able to contain Ridley one on one this will allow FS Tray Matthews to roll coverage to the opposite side and keep the linebackers focus with the run.
#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #21 Stanford Cardinal 7:00 CST on ABC
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) November 10, 2017
What to Watch: When Notre Dame has been at their best this season it’s been largely due to QB Brandon Wimbush and RB Josh Adams (#14 RB) running wild on defenses. In their loss to Miami that rushing attack was spoiled and they couldn’t do anything through the air. Notre Dame will need a big game out of their offensive line and more specifically their talented left side tandem of LT Mike McGlinchey (#8 OT) and LG Quenton Nelson (#1 G) facing off against NT Harrison Phillips and OLB Peter Kalambayi (#9 Edge). Phillips doesn’t have elite size for a NT but is great at using leverage and will test Nelson’s ability to move defenders. Kalambayi is an explosive edge rusher, but can also use that quickness to shed blocks in the run game. When Stanford has the ball they are going to feed RB Bryce Love (#6 RB) early and often and it will be on the Fighting Irish defense to slow him down. Love is a patient runner who lets his blocks develop before bursting through open holes. If Notre Dame’s defensive line lead by NT Jerry Tillery can clog up the lanes it could allow linebackers Nyles Morgan and Drue Tranquill the opportunity to close in.
#13 Washington State at #17 Washington 7:00 CST on Fox
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) September 30, 2017
What to Watch: The Apple Cup brings us not only a battle of two top 25 teams but also a chance to watch two talented but very different defensive tackles. For Washington it’s the massive Vita Vea (#2 DL) who at 6’5 332lbs is a load to deal with size alone but when you add that he has AA short area burst and lateral agility and it’s no surprise he’s living in opponent’s backfields. Very few teams have guards that can match up size wise to Vea, but the Cougars can with LG Cody O’Connell (#4 G). At 6’7 353 O’Connell isn’t going to get pushed around by Vea and has the short area burst to still stick with him. The other interior defender of note is Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa (#5 DL) who unlike Vea is undersized 6’2 252lbs but explosive and a feared pass rusher. Mata’afa lines up mainly at the 3 technique and rushes against guards, but he will slide down to the 1 technique from time to time and will see C Coleman Shelton (#4 C) who is good at locking up defenders, but will need to show the lateral agility and quickness to catch Mata’afa.