We're getting close to the blockbusters. We've got three games today in which both teams are ranked: #18 Florida at #23 Tennessee, #2 USC at #21 Stanford and #20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State. All three games come later tonight. In the interim, we're treated to a what if game in #1 Alabama at Arkansas, who will be without QB Tyler Wilson and just a week ago was ranked #8 before losing in overtime to..................Louisiana-Monroe..................extend your ellipses as necessary................
We've got ACC play with Wake Forest at #5 Florida St. as well as Virginia at Georgia Tech. But here's your two marquee early games:
Cal at #12 Ohio St. (12 p.m., ABC) - MTD Watch Notes
I'm not saying this is a must watch for Rams fans. I'm saying this is a must watch for Rams fans who dig into the draft this early. Given what the other options are for the noon slate (Illinois vs.....Charleston Southern? Shudda ya moutha, Brick), this one stands out.
For the Bears, you've got my top WR prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft as of right now: Keenan Allen. He isn't a speed demon, and he isn't incredibly physical. But he works outside as well as he does inside, he's got phenomenal body control, plus hands, plus acceleration, plus field awareness, plus technique...that's enough for me to put him at the top of my board today. I was hoping OT Matt Summers-Gavin would be available here, but he's down with an MCL sprain for a few weeks. I'm also a fan of #57 G Brian Schwenke, but uh, this photo either drops him out of draft contention or makes him a day 2 prospect:
As for Ohio St., you know there's a host of prospects there. Their best prospect is probably Johnathan Hankins, but as massive as he is, I see him as a 3-4 NT in the NFL. Rams fans need to get a look at OLB Etienne Sabino. I still think he's being undervalued at this point. FS C.J. Barnett looked good last week as well. Here's my Ohio St. preview.
North Carolina at #19 Louisville (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 - TV coverage map)
Like every year, UNC brings a host of top quality NFL Draft prospects. Like every year, UNC isn't really that good of a team. Like every year, you should still watch a couple of their games. As of right now, this and their Virginia Tech game in three weeks are their only games against ranked opponents, so that's about as big of a marketing push as I could make for this one. For draft headlines, OT Brennan Williams, DT Sly Williams and ILB Kevin Reddick will get notoriety. This is now the third season I've been telling people to get a look at #64 G Jonathan Cooper. He's NFL starter quality. And G Travis Bond can play as well on the other side.
As for Louisville, they're a bit of the opposite. A better, more prepared team who doesn't offer much for the NFL. C Mario Benavides looks the part. SS Hakeem Smith and ILB Preston Brown are both solid options. CB Adrian Bushell could sneak into the draft at the end of day 3. Aside from that, it looks a bit thin.
You can check my previews for UNC here and Louisville here.
Other MTD Watch Notes:
Wake Forest at #5 Florida St. (12 p.m., ESPN)
Other prospects worth checking out for Rams fans:
Wake Forest OLB Joey Ehrmann (at #5 Florida St. - 12 p.m., ESPN) - Underrated stringy prospect developing quickly. Don't expect to hear his name for a few weeks.
#13 Virginia Tech WR Marcus Davis (at Pittsburgh - 12 p.m., ESPNU) - Potential senior standout. GREAT size for possession guy. Has to use size better though.
#1 Alabama DEF Everybody (at Arkansas - 3:30 p.m., CBS) - These 11 prospects have speed, power, size, athleticism, acceleration, technique, awareness, experience, potential, closing speed, footwork, arm length, base strangth...holy poop they good.
Georgia Tech OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (v. Virginia - 3:30 p.m., ESPNU) - Wonderful opening effort against Virginia Tech. Rams fans need to track this guy.