As the college football season starts wrapping up, we're seeing the marquee matchups between conference foes who are trying to pad their résumés before the bowl season begins. This week's lineup features those high-ranked teams. You won't be able to watch them all, but this article should help you decide which one you want to catch.
No. 12 Baylor at No. 15 Oklahoma
FOX Sports 1
If you wanted to see some big plays, this is the game for you. Oklahoma is coming off a 59-14 win over Iowa State. Not to be outdone, Baylor beat Kansas 60-14. The defenses aren't spectacular for either team, but both are capable of making big interceptions and sacks even if they give up a few touchdowns here or there.
On Oklahoma's offense, the winning connection is sophomore QB Trevor Knight to junior WR #3 Sterling Shepard. Shepard is third in the nation in yards receiving, and though he suffered a groin injury last week he's expected to play. I get a bit of an Odell Beckham vibe from him. Knight is an interesting one, putting up lots of yards on the ground and in the air, but he's also prone to interceptions and still needs at one or two years before declaring for the draft. The two senior tackles, LT Tyrus Thompson and RT Daryl Williams, will have their hands full containing Baylor's freak defensive end #2 Shawn Oakman, who has 12.5 tackles for loss this season.
When Baylor has the ball, it's on QB #14 Bryce Petty to get the ball to his playmakers. He's as efficient as ever producing yards and touchdowns while limiting the interceptions, but his completion percentage is at a career low 54 percent, which is not good for his NFL prospects. The top receiver to watch is #5 Antwan Goodley. A good one-on-one matchup we might see is left tackle #58, Spencer Drango, against the small and athletic edge rusher, #19 Erik Striker. Striker is practically the size of a safety, but he's a dangerous threat rushing the passer.
No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 9 Arizona State
In this matchup between two one-loss teams, a chance at a coveted playoff spot will be at stake. The Irish lost at the last second in a heartbreaker against Florida State, scoring a winning touchdown only to have it taken away by offensive pass interference. The Sun Devils lost to UCLA, but since then have conquered USC, Stanford, Washington, and Utah.
On Notre Dame's side of the ball, QB #5 Everette Golson will be the top player to watch. He's the latest smaller yet athletic QB with enough arm talent to make scouts second guess themselves, and he'll be facing an aggressive blitzing defense in Tempe. You'll want to see how the bookend tackles, LT #78 Ronnie Stanley and RT #74 Christian Lombard, do against the changing fronts in pass protection. Ben Koyack - tight end #18 - looks like what you'd want a tight end to look like, but the senior is scarcely being used in the passing game, averaging 3 receptions for 30 yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game. That offense will be going up against guys like DE/DT #1 Marcus Hardison, the massive NT #98 Mo Latu, and DS #3 Damarious Randall.
When the Sun Devils have the ball, the onus is on Taylor Kelly to get the offense going. The quarterback (#10) has had multiple successful seasons as both a productive passer and a dangerous rusher on the ground, but he broke his foot, was out of commission for a month, and is still trying to find his rhythm. He has an able assistant to get him there in WR #21, Jaelen Strong. He's big, athletic, and capable of making circus catches, and there are a lot of fans of his among the scouts. He does need to work on being more consistent catching the football, though - he drops a few more passes than you'd like. Also check out the left tackle, #74 Jamil Douglas. He's athletic and has started a ton of games, but being 6'4" and 300 pounds, his best fit is probably at left guard. Notre Dame's defense has a couple interesting prospects trying to stop them. Among them are DT #91 Sheldon Day, CB #21 Cody Riggs, and newly reinstated senior safety #4 Eilar Hardy, who was under investigation for academic violations by the NCAA (but presumably was not found guilty, given that he's back on the field now).
Prime Time Options
I don't think I can recommend a single game from this timeslot, what with 6 very good college teams all playing. What I'll do is spotlight each matchup with a quick blurb of who you might want to watch for, and you can decide which game is your preference.
No. 7 Kansas State at No. 6 TCU - 7:30 on FOX
You want to watch #25 Kevin White, the cornerback who shut down the much more well-known receiver named Kevin White, against Kansas State's top receiver, #16 Tyler Lockett. You want to see two potentially draftable interior linemen in Wildcat OC #66 BJ Finney and LG #55 Cody Whitehair against TCU DT #9 Chucky Hunter. You like watching dual threat option QBs who are more effective in the college game than they would be in the NFL.
No. 5 Alabama at No. 16 LSU - 8:00 on CBS
You like watching two classic SEC juggernauts with their usual collections of talent. You want to watch #9 Amari Cooper get another 100 yards receiving. You want to know if QB #6 Blake Sims has an NFL future. You want to scout Cyrus Kouandjio's younger brother while he plays left guard. You are interested in G/T prospect #70 La'el Collins, up against Alabama's usual stifling defensive front. You want to see what ER #94 Danielle Hunter is capable of doing against a bunch of top recruits on Alabama's offensive line. You want to see Landon Collins put on a safety clinic.
No. 14 Ohio State at No. 8 Michigan State - 8:00 on ABC and ESPN3
You want to see two teams competing for what is essentially the B1G title. You want to see potential first round QB #18 Connor Cook, throwing to big play threat #14 Tony Lippett, against cornerback #12 Doran Grant. You want to see TE #5, Jeff Heuerman, in action against Michigan State's usual suffocating defense. You want to see if edge rusher #89 Shilique Calhoun is ready for the NFL or needs another year of seasoning. You want to see Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes in action.