Late College Open Thread: August 31

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

We're now officially on the road to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Let's be real. We've got three major games with SEC implications leading the national conversation tonight.

#1 Alabama at Virginia Tech* (5:30 p.m., ESPN)

* - Played at neutral site: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA

#5 Georgia at #8 Clemson (8:00 p.m., ABC)

#12 LSU at #20 TCU (9:00 p.m., ESPN)

* - Played at neutral site: Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX

You could field a competitive NFL team from those three games alone.

You've got six QBs in Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron, Tajh Boyd, Casey Pachall, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Thomas who could be draft picks. You've got my top two sophomore RBs in T.J. Yeldon and Todd Gurley. Sammy Watkins could be the first WR selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Amari Cooper might be better.

And that's just the skill positions...

To be fair, I'm interested in the late trio as well:

#19 Boise St. at Washington (10:00 p.m., FS1)

Nevada at #21 UCLA (10:00 p.m., PAC-12)

#22 Northwestern at California (10:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Those lack the postseason implications of the former three matches, but there's plenty of NFL talent to sift through to finish the first weekend.

And let me say, I like the modern opening college weekend. The big non-conference matchups offer a much more engaging slate than the week ones of my youth when every major team took a preseason breather to ease into their national schedule.

So when you're a well-built modern program like Kansas St. and you bring in North Dakota St. to your home and you get embarrassed, part of me is satiated.

The doors have officially opened, and we're on the road to the 2014 NFL Draft.

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