Iowa vs. Northwestern (ESPN/12:00pm EST)
An important Big Ten match-up with plenty of future NFL-linebackers on the field.
We've chronicled the exploits of Iowa's Chad Greenway and Northwestern's Tim McGarigle all season long. Each player consistently registers double digit tackles every Saturday. Greenway is a top 20 selection next April while McGarigle is making his way towards the events first day.
Three other Hawkeye defenders are worth mentioning. Abdul Hodge takes a backseat to Greenway yet is another first-day linebacker. Cornerbacks Jovon Johnson and Antwan Allen are both solid late round selections who stand to benefit from a good performance against Northwestern's mighty passing offense.
Tennessee vs. Notre Dame (NBC/2:30pm EST)
The Volunteer secondary will be hard-pressed to stop Notre Dame's air assault. Quarterback Brady Quinn looks better every week and is almost assured of being a first round pick should he enter the draft. Junior receiver Jeff Samardzija and senior counterpart Maurice Stovall have also impressed NFL-scouts this year. The same can be said for junior tight end Anthony Fasano.
Tennessee's offense has not been good in '05. Yet the talk in scouting circles has many NFL decision makers impressed with most of the Volunteer's next-level talent on defense.
Linebacker Kevin Simon looks to be in fine form after sitting out last season with injury. Teammate Omar Gaither has continued to build upon the momentum of a fine junior season. Both are first day selections. Junior defensive tackle Justin Harrell is stepping to the forefront and has caught the attention of scouts. If Harrell enters April's draft he'll be off the board in the first 50-selections. But should he stay in Knoxville for his senior campaign, Harrell could be a top 20 selection in '07.
NFL Prospect Reports: Tennessee| Notre Dame
A battle for Big Ten supremacy as the winner sits atop conference standings after this one.
As usual, Wisconsin has a strong offensive line with plenty of NFL-prospects. Early indications have left tackle Joe Thomas sticking around for his senior season. A tremendous pass blocker, Thomas is top 45-material should he depart for the pro-ranks after this year. Donovan Raiola has established himself as a one of the four best centers in the country. Raiola could sneak into the draft's first day.
The key to Penn State this season has been a big play defense. Defensive end Tamba Hali has been outstanding and though undersized, is sliding into the draft's top 60 choices. Matthew Rice has also been effective and is another undersized lineman improving his draft grade.
A match-up between underclassmen looms large. Junior linebacker Paul Posluszny has been a force all year. Leading the team in tackles, Posluszny is a terrific run defender with potential at middle linebacker or on the inside in a 3-4 alignment. A first day choice, he's given mixed signals as to whether or not he'll enter the draft.
Finally, Badger senior receivers Jonathan Orr and Brandon Williams have come alive after not being involved in the offense for some time. This weekend they go up against arguably college footballs best tandem of cornerbacks in Alan Zemaitis and Anwar Phillips. Zemaitis and Phillips are both top 75-picks next April.
Still unbeaten eight games into the season, Virginia Tech sits atop the ACC's Coastal Division. The team right below them? The Miami Hurricanes. As many as 20 next level players will be on the field during this game.
Where to begin?
The Miami's defense has recently come alive after a disappointing start. Five Hurricane linemen have NFL potential; Bryan Pata, Javon Nanton, Thomas Carroll, Orien Harris and Baraka Atkins will be sprinkled from the first round through the late frames over the next two drafts.
Cornerback Kelly Jennings flashes mid-first day skill but does not play to a high level on a consistent basis. Junior Devin Hester grades out as a top ten selection physically but needs to improve his cornerback techniques.
Their mission is to stop Marcus Vick and the Virginia Tech offense.
Vick is ineligible for April's draft yet the unheralded players surrounding him all have NFL potential. Jeff King is one of the more undervalued tight ends in the nation and a complete player at his position. Mike Imoh is a short running back with a compact build and a change of pace ball carrier for the next level. The consummate team player, Cedric Humes offers great value. Possessing outstanding size\speed numbers, Humes is a terrific short-yardage and goal line ball carrier who also averages 4.0-yards per carry.
When Miami has the ball keep close watch on Eric Winston. The athletic left tackle came back bulkier and stronger off his knee injury of a year ago. As a result his pass protection skills slightly diminished. Saturday night he battles Darryl Tapp, an explosive and fast edge rusher who will give Winston a great test.
Lastly, the match-up between Tech defensive back Jimmy Williams and the Hurricane receivers looms large.
A big, physical player in the secondary, Williams has early first round potential. Williams size and ability to make plays facing the quarterback lend many to believe that safety, and not cornerback, is his best pro-position.
Miami's receivers have answered the call this year. Sinorice Moss is starting to live up to the expectations placed on him. Slowly Moss is turning his speed and athleticism into football production.
After a fast start big-bodied wide out Ryan Moore has cooled down. The junior reciever, who is expected to jump into next April's draft, is still ahead of the pace and production he put up last year.