Ra’Shede Hageman vs. Michigan
Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman is a talented defender with a ton of upside. He combines his good size with a quick first step and long arms. This is a versatile player who can both play two-gap football and penetrate the pocket. Hageman has a great opportunity this weekend to build some positive momentum. Minnesota needs a strong performance out of him if they hope to pull off an upset against No. 19 Michigan.
If he’s able to generate some pressure in the face of Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner things could get interesting. Gardner has a tendency to make poor decisions when faced with pressure which includes throwing off his back foot and forcing the ball into coverage.
Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson vs. LSU’s Anthony Johnson
Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson has had an excellent year and faces another tough test this weekend. LSU has several high-profiled defensive players such as Anthony Johnson, Lamin Barrow and Craig Loston. The big matchup will be Jackson versus Johnson which pins two potential first-round picks against each other. Mississippi State needs to establish a strong running attack if they hope to keep pace with the explosive LSU offense.
Jackson’s key to success is his quickness off the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to explode off the ball and deliver a good initial jolt in order to get movement against this LSU defensive line.
Washington’s Bishop Sankey vs. Stanford’s Stingy Run Defense
Stanford’s defense has done a great job this year slowing down their opponent’s running game. They recently held the explosive Marion Grice and the entire Arizona State offense to 50 yards rushing. This week offers another challenge as Bishop Sankey and Washington come to town.
Sankey is coming off a 40 carry and 160 yard performance against Arizona. He’s a tough runner who can break arm tackles and grind out the tough yards. Sankey doesn’t have a great second gear, but he’ll wear a defense down as the game progresses. He needs to show that he can move the chains against a tough defensive front like he’ll face this week.
Clemson’s Vic Beasley vs. Syracuse’s Sean Hickey
On paper this doesn’t figure to be much of a game, but there’s a good matchup within the game. Clemson’s Vic Beasley has emerged as one of the top pass rushers eligible for the 2014 draft. He uses his quickness and suddenness to attack the edge and generate pressure. Syracuse has the athletic and developing Sean Hickey in place to help slow down Beasley. This will be a great matchup that could have major draft implications. Hickey might have the best opportunity out of the two to help himself.
NFL teams are always looking for offensive tackles who can protect the edge against explosives pass rushers like Beasley.