Border wars, conference rivalry’s and playoff spots as well as bowl berths are on the line this weeks as the regular season winds down in college football. Here are three games to watch including news on the upcoming decisions faced by many of the nation’s top underclassmen.
LSU vs Ole Miss
A longtime border war which could go a long way in determining the number two spot in the SEC West is on the line.
Keep close eye when Ole Miss junior Robert Nkemdiche lines-up across from Jerald Hawkins of LSU.
Most area scouts believe Jerald Hawkins has not had a good season yet despite this I’m told the Tigers left tackle is very likely to enter the draft. In his defense Hawkins has been struggling with a bum ankle but is expected to start this game. He offers size, strength and solid footwork off the edge.
Nkemdiche is also expected to enter the draft and has looked dominant at times this season. He splits double team blocks on the inside while also showing the agility and speed necessary to rush off the edge. Nkemdiche projects as a top 25 pick.
Michigan State vs Ohio State
Michigan State was surprised by Nebraska a few weeks ago but could jump back into the playoff picture if they beat undefeated Ohio State at the Horseshoe.
Look around the internet and you’ll often see Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook graded as a first round pick. Talk to NFL scouts and the opinion is quite different as some don’t even rank Cook as the top senior signal caller in the nation, never mind a first round pick.
Cook is a great arm talent, no doubt, as he’s able to make all the throws to just about any point on the field. His accuracy and pass placement are another thing altogether. All too often Cook needlessly has targets reaching back or leaving their feet to make receptions which results in lost opportunities after the catch.
If that happens on Saturday Cook will be cooked. The back seven of the Buckeye defense reads like a first team NFL depth chart and offers a number of first round picks.
Conerback Eli Apple and linebacker Darron Lee, both of whom are expected to enter the draft, grade as first round picks. Junior safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell, as well as senior linebacker Joshua Perry, will be selected during day two of the draft or the opening frames of the final day.
This represents the most talent laden defense Cook has faced this year and will go a long way in determining his final draft stock.
Mississippi State vs Arkansas
7PM EST ESPN
Two underclassmen, both of whom are likely to enter the draft, face-off in this one.
Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry is a downfield pass catching threat with reliable hands. He has the speed to split the seam and the size to create mismatches. As first reported several weeks ago, numerous sources tell me Henry will exit for the NFL after the season.
Mississippi State linebacker Ben Brown, a favorite of mine, has consistently shown himself to be a terrific box defender but can he cover and make plays in reverse? The tape makes one believe he can but Hunter offers a tough challenge on Saturday.
Sources tell me Brown is also very likely to enter the draft and his ability to play in space against the Arkansas offense that likes to mix it up, could be telling.