FBS Game of the Week: #8 Nebraska @ #7 Wisconsin, 8:00 PM, Madison, WI
TV Listing: ABC
Point Spread: Wisconsin -9.5
Summary: This is the Huskers first major match-up since moving to the Big Ten, and it won't be an easy one. The Badgers look like one of the most complete teams in the country, with a strong offense and defense. The Badgers are led by transfer quarterback Russell Wilson, who has really improved their passing attack, while maintaining Wisconsin's dominance on the ground. Nebraska on the other hand is still one of the best rushing teams in the nation, but doesn't have the passing game to balance it out. The vaunted Blackshirts of Nebraska, haven't been as good as a defensive unit as originally expected, despite having some of the best prospects in the nation. While it is early the winner of this game, could have serious National Title hopes, though the loser will likely get their chance at a rematch in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, later this year. Prediction: 27-20, Badgers
Players To Watch: Nebraska-
Defensive tackle (DE in 3-4) Jared Crick (6’6", 285). Crick is the heart and soul of the Cornhuskers defense, and a very active lineman. While he is highly rated, he shouldn't be thought of in the same category as an Ndamukong Suh. Crick though is not without his own talents as he is quick for his size and wins his share of battles with offensive linemen. He's active in the backfield, as he has recorded 9.5 sacks each of his past two seasons. While he is slightly smaller than what Jim Haslett looks for in a defensive end, he has the frame to add some weight. Currently he is a top 15 prospect, but given that Nebraska's defense has fallen some and the rise of a few other players he has a real shot of being available for the Skins in the first round.
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (5'10", 205). Dennard has been overshadowed the last two years by Prince Amukamara, but now he is in the spotlight and has a chance to shine. Despite a smaller size, Dennard is a physical corner who is not afraid to blitz or come up and make a tackle. He displays good instincts and speed and could be an interesting 1st rounder for the Skins if they go defensive.
Wisconsin- Wide Receiver Nick Toon (6'3", 220). Toon is the son of former Wisconsin and New York Jet great Al, who had a very good 8 year NFL career despite playing on some pretty bad teams. Nick is following in his dad's footsteps and looks to be one of the better 2nd tier receivers in next years draft. He is also a player with a lot of potential, as the Wisconsin offense is still a run first team. Despite that Toon has 21 catches for 353 yards (16.8 average) and 5 TD's. Toon has good size and speed and could be an intriguing 2nd round prospect for the Skins next year. His match-up vs Dennard should be one to watch all day.
Guard Kevin Zeitler (6'4", 315). Wisconsin is one of the best schools in the country at producing NFL caliber linemen. In fact three linemen were drafted this past April (Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, and Bill Nagy) and all three are starting (Carimi is out right now with an injury but is the starter) in the NFL right now. Wisconsin linemen are usually thought of as power guys, but they can be good fits for ZBS systems as well. Zeitler is the next Badger linemen who should join the NFL ranks (they have a top center Peter Konz who could come out and be drafted ahead of him). He is starting for his 3rd straight year for Wisconsin, and is one of the keys to a line that has allowed the Badgers skill players rack up some impressive stats. At RG, he should get his share of match-ups vs Crick which should be a nice test for both players. Zeitler looks to be a late 3rd to early 4th rounder, and would be a great find in the 4th if he falls that far.
*Also keep a close eye on the Wisconsin kicker (Phillip Welch), punter (Brad Nortman), and long snapper (Kyle Wojta). All three are considered among the best at their positions and could be intriguing UDFA's for the Skins next season.
FBS Random Game: Michigan State @ Ohio State, 3:30 PM, Columbus, Ohio
TV Listing: ABC or ESPN
Point Spread: Ohio State -3
Summary: Both of these programs probably thought they'd come into this game ranked, but early season losses have knocked them out of the Top 25. The Spartans have struggled to establish a ground game as their offensive line has gotten beaten by weaker opponents. Kirk Cousins remains one of the better quarterbacks in the nation, but he can't do it alone. The defense has been strong this season with the exception of the Notre Dame game, and could give Ohio State's young signal caller some hassles. This game marks the start of a brutal four game stretch for Michigan State, where they will face Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. The Buckeyes are still without their suspended offensive stars so this game is anything but a given for them, despite playing at the Horseshoe. True freshman Braxton Miller will make his second career start for the Buckeyes, so it will be interesting to see how he does in his first real test. Ohio State right now is a run first team, led by Miller, and running backs Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde. If Ohio State can survive this game, they should be in a good position to end up the 3rd or 4th team out of the Big Ten this year. Prediction: 24-20, Buckeyes
Players To Watch: Michigan State-
Quarterback Kirk Cousins (6’3", 205). Cousins is a third year captain at Michigan State, and has been a very effective and efficient quarterback for the Spartans. He doesn't have the gaudy numbers in yards or TDs that you'd expect from a top passer, but that really isn't the offense that he is in. Cousins projects to be a good signal caller at the next level, as he is smart and careful with the ball. He has a career completion percentage of 65% and over a 2-1 TD-INT ratio. He may never be a true 'elite quarterback', but has a good chance of having a Matt Hasselbeck type of career. He looks to be a solid 2nd round prospect, but his status will be dependent on his pre-draft workouts (Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day etc.), and how many Juniors come out.
Defensive Tackle (or 3-4 DE) Jerel Worthy (6'3", 310). Worthy came into this season with pretty lofty expectations, as some people projected him to be top 10 or 15 material. He hasn't shown that ability as of yet and is probably more of a 2nd round prospect, but the upside is very much there. He gets solid penetration and can get after the quarterback. He also doesn't mind getting his hands dirty and occupying blockers while others make plays. Right now his biggest issue is consistency, as he doesn't always play with the best leverage. This will be a key game for him as the Buckeyes have a strong offensive line and running game. Ohio State- Center Mike Brewster (6'5", 305). Brewster is one of the best pivots in the nation, and is the key to this Ohio State offense. With the graduations, defections and suspensions this offense has faced, it is amazing that they have done this well. Brewster is probably the biggest reason why, the Buckeyes still can move the ball effectively as he is essentially the 'quarterback' of the team. He calls out the line blocks and recognizes where the blitz is coming. He's strong at the point of attack, and excels in pass blocking. Right now he looks to be a solid third round prospect (though he could move up higher).
Offensive Tackle J.B. Shugarts (6'7", 300). Shugarts isn't a top tackle by any means and he is probably a utility guard/tackle at the next level. He is a three year starter for the Buckeyes, and has always been a hard worker and tough blocker. He profiles as a late round/UDFA type player, but he is worth watching. He does his best work run blocking and has opened up quite a few big holes for the Ohio State backs.
FCS Game of the Week: #3 Appalachian State (3-1) vs. #8 Wofford (2-1), 3 PM, Spartanburg, SC
TV Listing: ESPN3
Summary: Southern Conference supremacy will be on the line on Saturday afternoon when the Terriers take on the Mountaineers. The SoCon currently has three teams in the FCS Top 10, including the nation’s number one team Georgia Southern. This game is crucial to stay up towards the top in the polls and make into the FCS playoffs.
Appalachian State’s only loss came to the hands of Virginia Tech in college football’s opening weekend. Since then the Mountaineers have won three straight games, including a hard fought, two point win against intra-conference and thirteenth nationally ranked opponent Chattanooga last week.
Like Appy State, Wofford’s only loss comes to the hands of an ACC opponent when they nearly upset Clemson in Week 2. The Terriers run a triple option threat that is tough to defend and they are very well coach. Beyond their great performance in Death Valley, they have managed to register wins over Presbyterian and SoCon member Samford.
Prediction: Appy State is more battle tested and last year they absolutely destroyed Wofford 43-13. This is a different Wofford team, but I think the Mountaineers still pull of a win on the road and keep marching towards that October 29 matchup with Georgia Southern. 27-16, ASU
Players To Watch:
Appalachian State: As we highlighted in Week 1 the Mountaineers primary pro prospect is wide receiver Brian Quick. Just to give you an update on Quick, he was recently ranked as the second best small school prospect by Scouts, Inc. Todd Mcshay:
"Quick is a competitive, productive receiver with above-average separation skills. He's not as strong in terms of ball skills but is otherwise very similar to Marques Colston when Colston was coming out of Hofstra. Quick has hauled in 24 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns through four games this season."
Wofford: Quick’s primary competition for the SoCon’s best wide receiver comes in the Terriers’ 6’2, Brenton Bersin. Bersin registered 127 yards and a touchdown against Clemson and will be a deep threat for Wofford on Saturday.