Saturday Slate: Week 1 Matchups to Watch in College Football

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

The overreactions can be heard for miles.  Talk radio, school message boards, and hobby shops nation wide are blown apart by one meaningless release: the AP top 25.  Fans of schools at the top are already crowning themselves, while the un-ranked schools of the world  have their fan bases’ already up in arms (I’m looking at you Texas).  

However through all the meaningless chaos, one glorious fact is upon us: College football is around the corner.  Opening weekend always provides some great, highly anticipated match ups.  Lets highlight a few, along with the individual prospects you should be paying attention too.

#21 Texas A&M @ #9 South Carolina : SEC Network 6 pm est

It isn’t often that the first Thursday game of the season provides such a big and important match up, but this year is the exception.  Columbia will be rockin’ as they welcome the post Johnny Football Aggies.  South Carolina, who is the preseason favorite to win the SEC east essentially must win their first game if they hope to get to Atlanta (SEC Championship).  Even with absorbing the loss of DE Jadeveon Clowney and QB Connor Shaw, Coach Suppier believes this might be his best team yet in Columbia.  A&M  will score points under talented sophomore signal caller Kenny Hill, but will it be enough to win on the road?  I see it as a close game to start, with the Gamecocks pulling away late.

USC prospects

RB Mike Davis: A bowling ball runner who will no longer be flying under the national radar.  The post Connor Shaw offense will rely on him heavily, a projected 1-2 round pick.

OT Corey Robinson: Currently a top 10 prospect at his position, the redshirt senior is the anchor of the line standing a massive 6’7, 348 lbs.

OG A.J. Cann: The versatile left guard has a team high 38 starts under his belt, and is arguably the best guard in college football. A possible first round pick.

DT J.T. Surratt: The leader of the rebuilt Gamecock defensive line, Surratt is a physical gap clogging DT.  Currently a mid-round grade, all eyes will be on Surratt to step up as the only returning starter on the d-line.

Other prospects to watch : FS Kadetrix Marcus, SS Brison Williams, TE Rory Anderson (hurt), QB Dylan Thompson

A&M prospects

OT Cedric Ogbuehi: Could contend to be the number 1 pick if he plays well this year depending on who is on the clock come spring.  Ogbuehi will be a four year starter, however this will be his first at left tackle (og 2 years, RT 1).

OG Jarvis Harrison: A versatile guard who can play any of the interior positions, he should project as a mid-round prospect.

TE: Cameron Clear: The 6’6 275 lb tight end figures to be an essential part of the Aggie offense in 2014.  Dismissed from Tennessee after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, Clear has the physical traits to be a top tier tight end at the next level.  A relative unknown after only catching four passes last year, I think Clear is an underrated prospect to keep an eye on.

Other prospects to watch: DB Deshazor Everett, WR Malcome Kennedy, FS Floyd Raven Jr.

Boise State vs #18 Ole Miss (Georgia Dome) : ESPN 8 pm 

The post Chris Peterson era begins when the Broncos take on Ole Miss in the Georgia Dome.  Remember that star studded Rebel recruiting class of 2013? Well there sophomores now, and the Rebels are a dark horse for the SEC crown.  Led by senior QB Bo Wallace, the Rebels are hoping to kick off their season with a win in a big neutral site game vs a pesky Boise State club.  I expect the SEC athletes to overwhelm Boise State, cruising to a two score win.

Ole Miss Prospects

FS Cody Prewitt: The First Team preseason All-SEC safety (6’2, 215lbs) will be commanding the Rebel defense.  Prewitt is both a ball hawk (SEC leading 6 INTs in 2013) and an enforcer.  With another good campaign, Prewitt could be a 2nd round selection or higher.

DE C.J. Johnson: The former 5 star middle linebacker has found a home at DE.  Johnson missed 9 games last season due to injury, and his presence was certainly missed.

WR Laquon Treadwell: My favorite prospect on the team.  He’s just a sophomore (not draft eligible in 2015), but already may be the most dynamic receiver in the SEC.  The 6’3 212 lb speedster was SEC freshmen of the year catching a freshmen school record 72 catches for 608 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Keep your eye on him.

Other prospects: SS Serderius Bryant, QB Bo Wallace, CB Senquez Golson & DE Robert Nkemdiche (Soph)

Boise State prospects

WR Matt Miller: Good size (6’3 215 lbs) and better-than-you-think speed, Miller is the main prospect to keep your eyes on for Boise who projects as a mid to late round pick.

West Virginia vs #2 Alabama (Georgia Dome) ABC/ ESPN2 3:30 pm

The Crimson Tide begin their championship or bust 2014 campaign in the Georgia Dome vs West Virginia.  From a prospect standpoint, just watch everyone wearing an Alabama uniform and there’s a decent chance they have a shot to play at the next level.  They have five stars backing up five stars.  I expect the Tide to roll, big.

Alabama prospects

SS Landon Collins: He may be the best safety the SEC has scene since Eric Berry.  Collins is a flat out play maker, who will be a top end first round pick next spring if all goes to plan.

WR Amari Cooper: Cooper (6’1, 202lb, 4.40) is arguably the number 1 receiving prospect, even after a disappointing sophomore season.  Cooper himself said he had to change his attitude if he wanted to fulfill his potential, lets see whathappens as a Junior.

RB T.J. Yeldon: The talented runner tallyed insane numbers over 2 seasons, but he must be at his absolute best to beat out upcoming sophomore stud Derrick Henry for carries.  A bigger back with speed and vision behind that offensive line  with the weapons on the outside means a lot of sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators.

OG Arie Kouandjio : Younger brother to Cyrus, Kouandjio is the latest really really good Tide offensive linemen. A projected late first round pick if all goes well.

DT Brandon Ivory: The big, powerful, run stuffing is the key cog to Nick Saban’s defensive front.

Other prospects: OT Austin Sheppard, WR Christion Jones, RB Kenyan Drake, C Ryan Kelly, DT Darren Lake, ILB Trey DePriest, ILB Denzel Devall, RB Derrick Henry (Soph)

West Virginia prospects

RB Dreamius Smith, DE Shaquille Riddick, OG Mark Glowinski

#1 Florida State vs Oklahoma State (Cowboys Classic @ At&t Stadium, Arlington) ABC 8 pm

Like Alabama, Florida State is just loaded with prospects.  The defending champion Florida State Seminoles will take the field against a potent foe in Oklahoma State.  Many are riding this off as an easy win for the ‘Noles, especially with Heisman winner Jameis Winston back at QB.  However, I see this one as a close good ole fashioned shootout.  Cowboys QB J.W. Walsh and RB Desmond Roland will help supply the offense to try and keep up with the ‘Noles.  Eventually I expect the defending champions to win, but I believe this will be closer then most suggest.

Florida State prospects

QB Jameis Winston: If he comes out after his junior year, Winston should be no worse then a top 5 pick.  Don’t be surprised if he takes home another Heisman trophey before his college days are done, a feat not accomplished since Archie Griffin

RB Karlos Williams: The former safety has made a home at running back, and figures to lead the ‘Noles rushing offense this season.  Williams is currently projected in the 2-3 round range.

WR Rashad Greene: Has led the ‘Noles in receiving three years in a row, and his numbers figure to only go up with Kelvin Benjamin leaving to the NFL.

TE Nick O’Leary: Grandson to Jack Nicklaus, O’Leary is starting to make his own name for himself.  Arguably the number 1 TE prospect for next spring.

OT Cameron Erving: Considered a top five OT prospect by most, Erving could be a first round pick next spring.

CB P.J. Williams: Leader of the secondary.   Williams is a playmaker who can flat out cover as well.  Should be a first round pick.

DE Mario Edwards Jr.: Explosive first step can get him around most ACC OT’s by it self.  Contender for a first round pick.

Other prospects: CB Ronald Darby, OG Tre Jackson, SS Tyler Hunter, DT Desmond Hollin

Oklahoma State Prospects

DT James Castleman: Mainly a one technique DT, Castleman will have to lead the front 7 and play phenomenally if the Cowboys wish to slow down the ‘Noles O.

Other prospects: OT Dan Koenig, RB Desmond Roland.

#14 Wisconsin vs #13 LSU (Texas Kickoff Classic, Houston) ESPN 9 pm

In my opinion, the Texas Kickoff Classic is the game of the weekend.  Wisconsin will rely on their star RB Melvin Gordon to carry the load.  Last year, Gordon was used a lot on jet sweeps attacking the edge.  It may sound like a broken record but it’s true: the SEC speed is just on another level.  Wisconsin must get creative with Gordon to attack John Chavis’ defense.  I expect the Badgers to overload the line and use their strength (O-Line) to try and run it down LSU’s throat.  I cant wait to watch the #1 ranked high school RB of 2013 Leonard Fournette in his college debut.  LSU will also lean on stud freshmen receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn.   Leaning so heavily on newcomers makes me nervous about my pick, but I’ll assume Les Miles has something insane up his sleeve that is so crazy it will work, so I’ll say the Tigers win a close one. 

LSU Prospects

OT/OG La’el Collins: Collins played left tackle last year and was dominant.  At the next level he can play either OT or G, and should be a first round selection.

OG/OT Vadal Alexander : Like Collins, Alexander is a very versatile player.  He has some work to do, but should be at least a day 2 selection.

DE Danielle Hunter: In 10 starts last season he recorded 57 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks. Critics say he has a “questionable motor”, I say he hasnt played enough football yet to tell, and he may be just diving into his potential.

Other prospects: RB Terrance MaGee, FS Ronald Martin, RB Kenny Hilliard, DE Jermauria Rasco

Wisconsin Prospects

RB Melvin Gordon: Dynamic. Game changer. Explosive.  Only small question I have with him is can he carry the load without James White. Probably a first round pick or high second come spring.

DT Warren Herring: An important player on the 2 deep in previous campaigns, Herring will be a full time starter for the first time in his career.  LSU will provide a big test for him.

Other prospects: TE Sam Arneson, OT Rob Havenstein, OG Dallas Lewallen


Other games I’ll keep an eye on this weekend and you should too are No.7 UCLA @ Virginia (noon, ESPN), No.5 Ohio State @ Navy (Noon, CBS Sports Network),  Appalachian State @ Michigan (Noon, ESPN2), BC @ Umass (3pm, ESPN3), SMU @ #10 Baylor (Sunday 7:30pm, Fox Sports 1) and Miami @ Louisville (Monday, 8pm, ESPN)

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27 Responses to “Saturday Slate: Week 1 Matchups to Watch in College Football”

  1. acm says:

    Most important take-away for me from this last pre-season game was that the Pats still don’t have a safety to start next to DMac. An issue that’s been around for years now, with many high draft picks literally wasted on the position, and they still have 3-4 busts fighting for the spot with the supposed starter playing well into the 4th preseason game.
    They say if you have 2 Qbs, you have none. Wonder what the saying is for when you have half of your roster on defense fighting over one freakin’ spot.

    • steve earle says:

      Yes !!! Darn right. That’s the reason I mentioned Marquis Flowers and Taylor Mays in an earlier post. I feel either would be an upgrade on our 3rd and 4th STYs. Can’t be sure either will be cut but one can hope. As for LB help I read a report that Mark Herzlich was at risk in giant land though I put less stock in that but again … hope.

      • acm says:

        Steve, do yourself a favor and forget about Mays. That guy is an athlete, not a football player. I’d rather see Tavon f-ing Wilson start there than Mays. At least Wilson is familiar with the system.
        LB/SS M. Flowers I do like but am trying to be realistic and don’t hold any hopes for him even if adding him could open a roster spot considering his position flexibility.

  2. steve earle says:

    Andre Johnson to the Pat’s? Could that be possable, even remotly possable? Not in my imagination but then I did’n think BB would sign Revis. He did just clear a bunch of cap space trading Mankins but does Houston want to trade Johnson, would they, what would it take? Perhaps someone should throw some cold water on me I’m begining to think that at least an attempt might happen.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Reasons Andre Johnson to the Pats could happen:
      1. He’s a dominant outside receiver with a couple good years left
      2. He’d like to be on a winner
      3. He’d like to play with a top QB
      4. BB likes him some veterans

      Reasons Andre Johnson might not happen:
      A. His cap number is about $10 Million
      B. Houston thinks this is a come-back year
      C. Johnson reportedly likes it in Houston
      D. Not every WR “gets” the Pat’s offense
      E. BB won’t part with a high-round draft pick for Johnson
      F. The Pat’s receivers look pretty good so far this year.
      G. Even in a go-for-it year, the Pats are still stingey parting with the high draft picks

      Everybody dreams of a “Mallet + a 4th rounder” deal for Johnson, but that overestimates Mallet’s value to the team with the first dibs on all Waiver-wire-players. Also, to the Pats, that’s like trading a 3rd and 4th.

      All that said, I feel like the Pats have at least 3 big personnel moves/additions left before the 2nd week of the season.

      • steve earle says:

        Good breakdown GM and I’m sure there are a few moves BB would like to make. It remains to be seen if they will happen. I have hopes we are able to improve depth at DE, LB and SAF. Can’t say it will happen though.

  3. GM-in-Training says:

    Is it my imagination, or are the Bucs the tallest team in the NFL?

    They have a pair of 6’5″ stud WR (Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson), and 6’5″ TE (Austin Sefarian-Jenkins). That’s a lot of high-point ability. They also have a 6’9″ tackle, QB Mike Glennon is 6’6″. Their DL are all around 290, and their LB are all around 230, so built to stop the pass, not the run. Their safeties look pretty good (Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron). The only place they seem undersized is their top 3 CB are all 5’10″. I guess the strategy against them is run it down their throats with good FB and TE blocking, or get your tallest receivers and TE in mismatches against their CB.

  4. Bom Trady says:

    Mallet not playin next week hmmmmm…. andre johnson here we come WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! superbowl!!!!

  5. GM-in-Training says:

    So…the Pats transferred a net $5.75 million in salary cap burden to Tampa and got a move TE. They have a bunch of young OL guys they must like.
    I’m generally optimistic because I did think Mankins was declining, and they’ve spent a couple years accumulating OL pieces to prepare for this transition.

    They may or may not make a move with Mallet.

    That said, if you were the Pats, what would you do with all that cap space? Btw, they’ve got to WIN NOW!

    • Russell says:

      I thin the cap-space should be used to keep Revis. I may add an OLman like OT Emmett Cleary 6’7″ 320 lbs, cut by the Raiders (a Boston College guy) and maybe look to add depth to LB, If any of the starting three go down, we are thin. LB Kendrick Adams, 6’5″ 250 lb, cut by Tenn. may be worth a look. Jackson Jeffcoat maybe worth a look at 6’3″ 255 lbs, as a LB project? Second year player LB Jake Knott 6’3″ 245lbs, cut by Philly is a guy Bill has seen in practice.

      • Bobthebuilder says:

        Still curious on who your source is saying Malletts going to the Rams and Kolb to the Pats.

      • steve earle says:

        Intresting group on your list Russell but I’m not expecting another serious move until after the final cut down. As for claims there are, what, 27 teams ahead of us in line for claims so Bill will have a few hours in which to try to work out a swap or trade before the best fits land elsewhere. The good thing is we have a few players who might be of intrest to other teams so that draft picks don’t have to be spent. If it were I, LB’s, DE and SAF would be a focus with an eye on O-line.

    • steve earle says:

      Lot’s of rumors swirling after Mankins trade. Some are saying Bill’s looking for a LB’er or an O linemen even a DE. The one I like best is the one for Andre Johnson though I think it’s the least likely. Still I like the idea of it, and your statemen “the’ve got to win now”.

  6. Russell says:

    Interesting cut players Bill may have interest in……..QB Jeff Mathews, OT Emmett Cleary, RB Miguel Maysonet, DE/LB Jackson Jeffcoat. Of this group Jeffcoat may be a LB project, Cleary played at Boston U 6’7″ 320 lbs, and was surely someone the Patriots watched.

  7. Russell says:

    Mankins traded to Tampa for a 4th round 2015 pick, and Tim Wright 6’4″ 231 lbs , 54 catches , 569 yards , 5 TDs last year. A Rutgers player, who Bill must have liked.
    This will free up alot of cash, as Mankins is in the 4th year of his 6 year deal for 51 mil. 8.5 mil per year.

    • matt says:

      So your telling me the Pats couldn’t fine a way to move money around another way. Companies have been doing this since before the NFL even started that’s what a good CEO does. And to cut a good o line man two weeks before the start of the reg season and to get some idiot from Tampa is just plain stupid.

      • Bobthebuilder says:

        They didn’t cut Mankins, they traded him. Very different. It was not a move to clear cap space, it was a move to maximize Mankins’ trade value when he is a declining player, and to acquire a move TE Tim Wright.

        • acm says:

          The two are connected – Mankins was being paid beyond his production and that ratio was only likely to get even worse. He’s a player at the end of his career with 2-3 years or whatever of top-level paycheck/cap-hit attached to his name.
          By cutting him, they get rid of a player at most a year early than a year too late and open up a lot of cap room to work with for next season (cap they save this year will roll over to the next).
          They also get an extra pick and a move TE in process, all for a player who was likely entering his last year for the Pats.

        • Russell says:

          I also think Bill like’s Braxton Cave in the OL mix, while getting younger on the OL.

    • Jim R says:

      How does this help them this year? I think BB went a little of the rails on this one. Not a fan of this at all

      • big w says:

        If winning with Brady is first then this is out to lunch teams beg for men like Mankins tough as nails and keeps everyone in line. If its Garapalo then this might make sense, I hate it guys like Mankins deserve better and money is not the issue in the NFL seems to be egos . Bill needs a real G.M.

    • steve earle says:

      Think your wrong on Cave. He has had two years to move up from the p-sqd and couldn’t get it done. Bill drafted Stork for the position so that tells me Cave is now the odd man out

  8. PSW says:

    ESPN saying Mankins traded for a TE and a 4th round pick from tampa bay!?!?!?!?!

  9. PSW says:

    Hmmmm, wouldn’t today have been a good day for a “cut down” article??

  10. Nalah says:

    I agree with ole miss prospect Cody Prewitt as someone to keep a close eye on. I think Prewitt could be a potential patriot draft pick for next year.

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