Every Saturday during the college football season, we'll have an open thread for readers of Buffalo Rumblings to discuss college football games. The thread is open to any and all collegiate discussions, but the posts themselves will emphasize draft prospects. This is, after all, a Buffalo Bills blog.
It's hard to believe we're almost done completing two months of the college football season. Week 7 will get underway full throttle this afternoon, and, as always, there are a bunch of games containing high-profile NFL Draft prospects that you'd be wise to check out.
Boston College at (16) Florida State: Noon, ESPN
This is yet another chance for you to check out Florida State senior quarterback Christian Ponder, one of the nation's best quarterback prospects. A big kid with great athleticism and football acumen, Ponder has been somewhat up-and-down through his senior season, but has had some excellent performances of late. It's especially important that you keep an eye on Ponder given that there are already reports that the Bills like him quite a bit.
One of the nation's top offensive tackle prospects will also be on display in this one; Anthony Castonzo (BC) is widely considered a first-round talent, with good feet and pass protection ability but a lack of power to his game. A strong finish to his senior campaign could slide him into the Top 20 next April.
Arkansas State at Indiana: Noon, ESPNU
Last year, many of us believed that the Bills would target Indiana OT Rodger Saffold on draft day thanks to his ties to Bills assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson. That same tie exists between Johnson and current star Indiana tackle James Brewer - and Brewer's name has been a hot one of late. This game is worth checking in with for that reason alone.
Minnesota at Purdue: Noon, ESPN2
I'd tell you to check in here to see Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, who will certainly get drafted thanks to his skills and his experience. But I don't want to believe Buffalo will be willing to wait that long to draft a quarterback next April. Instead, you should check this game out simply to see Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who is having a monster senior season and is flying up draft boards as a result. Kerrigan has at least one sack in every game he's played in this year.
Western Michigan at Notre Dame: 2:30, NBC
NBC telecasts are always worth tuning into this season thanks to the presence of Mike Mayock. I have no problem saying that I'll be tuning in just to drool over one of my favorite prospects this year, Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph. A massive player (6'6", 265) equally adept at blocking and receiving, Rudolph will be an instant starter in the NFL no matter where he lands. You know how we're looking for "football players"? Kyle Rudolph is simply a fantastic football player.
Oh, wait. That's right. Rudolph's done for the year and I am sad. Go watch receiver Michael Floyd, instead.
(12) Arkansas at (7) Auburn: 3:30, CBS
This, of course, is another chance for those of you smitten with Ryan Mallett to try to pick his game apart. Those of you who have seen him play a few times might be wise to turn your attention to tackle DeMarcus Love when Arkansas has the ball; Love is one of the better tackle prospects in the nation, and considered at least a second-round pick in most circles. I, personally, will be tuning in to take a long look at Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who has exploded onto the scene this season.
(15) Iowa at Michigan: 3:30, ABC
This will be an interesting game in which to take in the play of Iowa star defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Playing Michigan's offensive system, and trying to slow down phenom quarterback , will put unique stresses on Clayborn's game that we may not get to see again. If you haven't seen Clayborn play, this might not be the best week to get a true sense of him as a player; then again, if you have, you might learn something new today.
Texas at (5) Nebraska: 3:30, ABC/ESPN
There are some truly outstanding cornerback prospects playing in this game, led by Prince Amukamara and Aaron Williams. If you haven't seen Amukamara play yet, take a good look; he's close to being a lock for the Top 10 next April. On the Longhorns' side of the field, I'm going to drink in as much as I can of defensive end Sam Acho, one of the better pass rushers in the nation that might have the athleticism to play in a 3-4.
BYU at (4) TCU: 4:00, Versus
Yet another highly-touted offensive tackle prospect will be appearing in this game; two of them, actually, if you still believe Marcus Cannon can play outside at the NFL level. Many scouts, however, are projecting him to right guard. The tackle I speak of is Matt Reynolds, a junior most see as a right tackle. On TCU's side of the field, I'm intrigued by defensive end Wayne Daniels, who is having a very nice season as he becomes the new focal point of the Horned Frogs' pass rush, replacing first-round pick .
Mississippi State at (22) Florida: 7:00, ESPNU
As usual, there are tons of Gators prospects that you could be checking out here, led by cornerback Janoris Jenkins. I'd like to continue the theme of offensive tackles, however, by suggesting you tune into this one to take a long look at Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, another revered pass-blocker that is generating some buzz this season. Many scouts see him in the same light as aforementioned players like Castonzo and Love.
(1) Ohio State at (18) Wisconsin: 7:00, ESPN
I continue to insist to people who ask that Cameron Heyward is slightly overrated, yet still one of the best players in the nation at any position. He's kind of pigeon-holed into a 3-4 defensive end position at the NFL level, but he'll be very good at that job for a very long time. But again, this is a good opportunity to stay on the theme of offensive tackles, with Wisconsin senior Gabe Carimi showcased in this matchup. A massive player, Carimi might be good enough to step in and start at right tackle for some clubs as a rookie.
(17) Arizona at Washington State: 7:30, Versus
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles continues to climb draft boards, a trend that should continue this evening when he and the Wildcats shred Washington state on the road. Foles throws a nice ball and is a tall player, and is a very good, very underrated prospect.
Mississippi at (8) Alabama: 9:00, ESPN2
There are dozens of Alabama prospects that you can tune in for; I'm still looking to get a better idea of what linebacker Don'ta Hightower is capable of, and so will try to see as much of him as I can. Believe it or not, there's a Mississippi player worth looking at, as well; nose tackle Jerrell Powe will probably be the first at his position off the board next April. He's a great run defender.
(24) Oregon State at Washington: 10:15, ESPN
Jake Locker faces another quality opponent on his home turf this evening, and with two straight solid performances under his belt, folks are anticipating his latest slip-up. For the record, I still consider Locker a Top 5 talent - he's No. 1 overall talent, actually, held back a bit by his being raw as a passer - and anyone knocking him down out of the Top 10 and into the second round doesn't have a great grasp of reality. This, however, will be a great test for Locker, as the Beavers have a solid defense headlined by stud defensive tackle prospect Stephen Paea.