Sometimes, when I'm making these picks, I have to decide if I'm highlighting the games that I think will have a lot of prospects or the games that might have one or two really interesting prospects that would be easy to focus on. For example, the only player I'm really intrigued by at Indiana right now is Nate Sudfeld. Should I spotlight one of his games, over one of the clashes of the titans? That's the decision that I have to make.
In general, I will always try to include a power conference team in each game I recommend. Not just because they're more talented, but because they provide an easy frame of reference. If I know how good Alabama is, I can measure all of Alabama's opponents against that bar.
No. 6 Texas A&M at no. 12 Mississippi State
ESPN and WatchESPN
We just saw Texas A&M barely survive a strong challenge by Arkansas. Trey Flowers, playing at left end, abused right tackle Germain Ifedi all day, and the Razorback rushing attack had the team on the verge of the upset, but a late surge by Kenny Hill brought A&M to an overtime victory.
Now they come up against Dak Prescott and the upstart Bulldogs, who recently upset another top ten team, LSU. Prescott is a 6'2" 230 pound QB who can burn you on the ground or through the air, although it's not clear how prepared he is for a pro-style offense. He has a great running back paired with him in Josh Robinson, who continues to get tough yards when they're needed. Keep an eye on that Bulldog defense, too. Senior edge rusher Preston Smith is 6'6" 265 pounds, and has three sacks and two interceptions this season. Benardrick McKinney is an athletic OLB as well. Unfortunately the pass defense isn't holding up its end, which doesn't bode well against the Texas A&M offense.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss
Another week, another Alabama game to watch. As usual, take your pick of talent to watch on their side of the ball. Quarterback Blake Sims has caught my eye with his hot start to the season, and his backup Jacob Coker is supposed to have plenty of NFL talent too. The offensive line always has a prospect or two who'll be draft eligible, and Arie Kouandjio at left guard is the one that I'm paying the most attention to. On the defensive side of the ball, Landon Collins is my favorite prospect to watch. Oh yeah, and I heard that a pretty good wide receiver plays for Alabama.
Ole Miss is an interesting team thanks to a major recruiting surge over the last few years. There are three great prospects on the team for whom you'll be waiting at least another year: defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, and left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Senior safety Cody Prewitt is a big all-around defender who should show up on several plays. Along with Treadwell, Ole Miss has several targets to pick up big chunks of yards on offense. Their signal caller, Bo Wallace, is a big, tough QB who garners a lot of respect on his team. He has a lot of minor issues affecting his NFL readiness though - including a bunch of mechanical ones.
Arizona State at no. 16 University of Southern California
7:30 PM EST
While the early slate was kind of SEC-heavy, we're going to finish things up with a Pac-12 matchup for the last game (sidenote: As usual Oregon found that one game that it just couldn't figure out how to win. Once again, I will repeat that Marcus Mariota is being overrated by every other draftnik).
Unfortunately for my scouting, ASU's normal quarterback, Taylor Kelly, has been out with a foot injury for several weeks, and won't be playing in this game either. I had heard good things about Kelly (besides the last name), but the less he plays the harder it is for me to evaluate him on the field. It's too bad, because he has a good receiver to throw to in the 6'3" 210 pound Jaelen Strong. I've seen some project him in the first round, and while I don't consider him quite that good yet, he's definitely an NFL prospect. DJ Foster has put up some good numbers as a running back on this team, so you should keep an eye on him too. Unfortunately for ASU, their defense is very young and still learning, evidenced by their 62 points allowed last week against UCLA.
USC is a well-rounded roster, as usual. That's in spite of not having cornerback Josh Shaw, who was getting lots of love in the preseason before he told a fake story about rescuing a cousin from a swimming pool, getting him indefinitely suspended from the team. The star Trojan right now is Leonard Williams, a 6'4" 290 pound DT/DE tweener with all kinds of athletic talent. He should stand out with no problem. On the offensive side of the ball, it has been a bit stagnant under junior QB Cody Kessler - Nelson Agholor leads the team in receiving stats, but only has a 26/239/3 receiving slash. They may figure their connection out against the porous ASU defense, though.