We're loading up on some decent contests today. While the college world is prepping for the hot sprots take meltdown coming next weekend with Alabama heading to Texas A&M, the NFL eye has plenty to hone in on today.
#12 Florida at Miami (12:00 p.m., ESPN)
Sad, really. The modern era has sapped the purity of previous incarnations of conference football. The Big 8, the Southwestern Conference...institutions that have been wiped out. Maryland's going to be in the Big Ten next year. Maryland. Seeing the expiration of contests like Florida and the U and tonight's Notre Dame-Michigan battle...a part of my childhood is disappearing like Marty's siblings in that photo in Back to the Future.
So get a look in at this one if only for history's sake. Miami's headlined by QB Stephen Morris, but if OT Seantrel Henderson can ever get it together, he could be a serious contender for a Rams selection. Florida's loaded on defense, especially at corner, so we might not be synced up with their 2014 offerings.
Cincinnati at Illinois (12:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Throwing some love Brandon Birkhead's way. This is Cincy's biggest challenge until late in the season, so barring an upset, I could see the Bearcats at 9-0 in early November if they can get out of Champaign today with a win. That being said, they're not a very NFL-friendly team. The strength of their offense is on the line with all five members having played together last year as well. Junior Eric LeFeld is the standout talent. I could see him as a day two selection right now. Defensively, MLB Greg Blair is the centerpiece. They've got a ton of new names on the first row of that defensive depth chart though, so we might see some breakouts this season.
As for Illinois, they're in a tough spot. OLB Jonathan Brown might be the only NFL prospect this year. So for the Illini, it's about putting this program back together. Going 0-8 in conference last year was an avoidable failure. They'll need to lean on 24th-year senior Nathan Scheelhaase to pick up a couple wins and nab a few more recruits like true freshman Paul James III. Stay strong, Birk. Better days are ahead.
#2 Oregon at Virginia (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 - coverage map)
The battle of the Long brothers.
Twitter would be so upset if @Ky1eLong and I hadn't talked about a bet on this weekends Oregon UVA game.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 6, 2013
Virginia's thin right now, but OT Morgan Moses is a legit NFL option. Should the Rams and Rodger Saffold part ways, Moses becomes a legit prospect for the Rams. He's moved over to the left side with Oday Aboushi now a New York Jet.
As for Oregon, there are some serious top talents. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, TE Colt Lyerla and OW (yup) De'Anthony Thomas are all early draft candidates. If you need something to fill time before the big SEC game this week, here's your viewing.
#6 South Carolina at #11 Georgia (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
Well now we've gone and made Jadaveon Clowney mad. Great job, America.
Rams fans will want to get a look at S Brison Williams and OT Corey Robinson for the Gamecocks. For Georgia, check out their offensive line. OT Kenarious Gates and guards and Dallas Lee are worth your time. I would've nodded in WR Malcolm Mitchell's direction, but he tore his ACL celebrating an early TD against Clemson. Old Testament God is spiteful, man.