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.
If you're still of the mind that Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't Buffalo's long-term answer at quarterback - or even if you are, and you're still interested in couch scouting the nation's top college quarterback prospects - arguably the best five amateur signal-callers will be participating in nationally-televised football games today.
The best of the crop, sophomore Andrew Luck, will be on ABC at 8:00 PM when his Stanford Cardinal (No. 13) take on the Arizona Wildcats (No. 15) at home. Most of you know about Luck, but many of you may not yet have seen Arizona's own underclassman sensation. 6'5", 245-pound junior Nick Foles has missed most of the past three games with a knee injury, but is expected to return to the lineup this evening in time for this mammoth Pac-10 matchup. Foles is a highly intriguing prospect; he has a career record of 10-5 since taking over as the full-time starter early in 2009. Take a gander if you haven't.
That's just the biggest game of the day, however. Three more highly-touted QB prospects will be on display, as well.
Most experts still consider senior Jake Locker to be second to Luck in terms of 2011 NFL Draft prospects, but clearly, the gap is widening after several sluggish performances from Locker this season. Today, Locker will face perhaps his biggest challenge of the season when he and his Washington Huskies travel south to take on the No. 1 team in the nation, the Oregon Ducks (3:30, ESPN2). The Huskies aren't remotely talented enough to possibly win this game, but a competent performance and some points from Locker and the Washington offense would go a long way toward erasing some of the negativity that Locker's games against Nebraska and Stanford have created for his draft stock.
I'm not nearly as high on Ryan Mallett as most, but he'll get another chance to put up some big numbers when the Arkansas Razorbacks (No. 18) travel to Williams-Brice Stadium to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (No. 19; 7PM, ESPN). Statistically, Mallett is having another monster season, throwing for 2,449 yards and 18 touchdowns through eight games this season.
Finally, we arrive at Christian Ponder, whose stock has fallen drastically since being considered a fringe first-round prospect early in the season. He and the Florida State Seminoles (No. 24) will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels this afternoon (3:30PM, ABC), with Ponder trying to shake off two straight underwhelming performances, including a loss a week ago in which he fumbled an exchange in the final minute, preventing FSU from a come-from-behind win against NC State.
Defenders On TV, Too
We talk about the quarterback prospects pretty much every week, but if you're more interested in taking a look at some of the nation's best defensive prospects, you'll have plenty to pay attention to today, as well.
At Noon on ESPNU, you can check out defensive lineman Allen Bailey and cornerback Brandon Harris when their Miami Hurricanes host the surprising Maryland Terrapins. Miami's season is in the tank despite high preseason expectations, but Bailey and Harris are both having excellent seasons, and both should be first-round draft picks come next April.
At 7:00 PM on Versus, you can take a look at two more high-profile defenders when the Oregon State Beavers square off against the UCLA Bruins. We've talked up UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers a bunch over the past few weeks, so we won't dive into him any more here; just watch him. Keep an eye, also, on OSU's stud defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who despite not fitting Buffalo's 3-4 defense at all is one of my very favorite players in the nation. He's excellent.
The big game defensively, however, will take place at 3:30 this afternoon on CBS, when the LSU Tigers (No. 10) play host to the Alabama Crimson Tide (No. 6). Both of these teams are loaded with excellent defenders, which is hardly surprising given the conference they play in. Alabama's defense features an outstanding defensive lineman (Marcell Dareus), an outstanding linebacker (Don'ta Hightower) and an outstanding defensive back (Mark Barron). LSU finds themselves in a similar (envious) situation, featuring a stud defensive lineman (Drake Nevis), a solid linebacker (Kelvin Sheppard), and perhaps the best cornerback (and athlete) in the nation in Patrick Peterson. Have fun with this one, folks.
Where Will The Bills Be?
Clearly, we'll never be privy to every location riddled with Bills scouts on a given weekend, but thanks to two scoops (here and here) from Chris Steuber, we know the Bills will have representatives at these two games this afternoon:
(7) Nebraska v. Iowa State: This game will be nationally televised, too, so you can check in while the Bills themselves check in if you feel so inclined. Nebraska has one of the best defenses in the nation, featuring some of the nation's best prospects, as well. Here's a list of the best prospects to keep tabs on from both teams in this game, courtesy Mocking The Draft:
| 6'4, 264 pounds | DE | Nebraska
| 6'1, 200 pounds | CB | Nebraska
| 6'6, 285 pounds | DT | Nebraska *
Alonzo Dennard | 5'10, 195 pounds | CB | Nebraska *
| 6'7, 320 pounds | OT | Nebraska *
Roy Helu | 6'0, 215 pounds | RB | Nebraska
| 6'4, 240 pounds | TE | Nebraska
| 6'1, 220 pounds | WR | Nebraska
| 6'3, 226 | QB | Iowa State
| 6'5, 328 pounds | OT | Iowa State *
David Sims | 5'10, 209 pounds | SS | Iowa State
Temple v. Kent State: I won't pretend to know much about these two teams, not having seen either play this year. Instead, I'll again defer to SB Nation's NFL Draft affiliate:
| 6'2, 202 pounds | FS | Temple
| 6'2, 240 pounds | MLB | Temple
| 6'1, 235 pounds | OLB | Temple
| 6'4, 312 pounds | OT | Temple
Adrian Robinson | 6'2, 250 pounds | DE/OLB | Temple *
| 6'5, 305 pounds | DT | Temple *
| 6'1, 206 pounds | FS | Kent State
| 6'1, 238 pounds | MLB | Kent State