by Greg Doyle
The best weekend of college football matchups so far this year is upon us. Some very good duels between ranked teams that will decide a lot in terms of the BCS going forward. Let’s take a look at some of the most attractive matchups.
Wisconsin at Illinois (Noon ESPN): The 5-0 and 5th ranked Wisconin Badgers travel to the upstart Illinois Fighting Illini, who stand at 4-1. Should be a hard fought game and Illinois has been targeting this one for awhile hoping to put themselves on the map with a signature win.
Wisconsin WR Luke Swan (#1): Starting receiver who has shown a lot of improvement this year. Average size and speed, but good hands. Averaging nearly 77 yards receiving per game. Was a former walk-on who has made himself a good college player through hard work. Probably a late-round pick at best and may be undrafted, but his improvement and hard work give him a shot.
Wisconsin DT Nick Hayden (#96): Three year starter and run stuffer who has the size (6’5″ 300 lbs.) to play in the Patriots system. Has 2 sacks through 5 games, but has been taken out a lot in passing situations throughout his career. Had a disappointing junior year after a very promising sophomore year and his attitude became an issue. Seems to have turned it around this year and his play has been better. Has done better as a two-gapper, which the Patriots run.
Illinois DT Chris Norwell (#96): Hard working kid not blessed with great ability. Been decent his entire career but not great. Probably an undrafted type who could stick with hard work.
Illinois LB J Leman (#47): Team leader on defense who goes by “J” but whose real first name is Jeremy. Put up an amazing 152 tackles last year and added 4 sacks. Leading the Big 10 in tackles again this year. Good size and amazing production make him a definite Patriots possibility. Reportedly has good character. Butkus Award candidate. Watch him closely, as the Patriots certainly will.
Illinois S Kevin Mitchell (#42): Another hard-working team leader for the Illini. More of a free safety type. Has made a lot of tackles and been a very solid college player. Chance to be drafted.
Cincinnati at Rutgers (8:00 PM ESPN2): #20 Cincinnati visits #21 Rutgers in this Big East matchup. Undefeated Cincinnati can move up with a win here.
Cincinnati RB Greg Moore (#48): A big 6’2″ 225 lb. runner who is averaging 7.2 per carry this season. Splits time with Butler Benton. His size, shiftiness and decent production give him a shot in the NFL. His combine times will determine a lot, but there is some potential there. Could possibly convert to fullback if he bulks up a bit. Good character and hard worker.
Cincinnati DE Anthony Hoke (#12): Plays defensive end, but can stand up too. Will be an NFL conversion to linebacker if he makes it. Can rush the passer and decent quickness. The Patriots will take a look to see if he can convert.
Rutgers T Jeremy Zuttah (#71): 290 lb. All-Big East tackle could convert to a guard in the NFL.
Rutgers LB Brandon Renkart (#47): Solid college player who has some size to work with (6’3″ 230) Plays outside for the Scarlet Knights. Hasn’t shown great coverage ability, which he’ll need to play at the next level. Originally walked on as a quarterback.
Rutgers S Ron Girault (#43): Good, but not great, safety who has not taken it to next college level, which raises questions if he can play in NFL. Smallish safety size doesn’t help either (5’11” 200), but has played a lot and been solid to good. Has made some plays. Has a chance, but will have to be a special teams star.
Florida at LSU (8:00 PM CBS): A classic matchup between last year’s champs (Florida) and possibly the best team in the country this year (LSU). Florida won the matchup last year, but LSU won the two prior to that. We’ve looked at both these teams before, but this matchup has to be highlighted as it may be the game of the year so far. Take a look at the September 15th College Scout for information on Florida and August 30th and September 8th for information on LSU’s top players.
Others To Watch: Miami LB Tavares Gooden (#52) is the Hurricane’s leading tackler. They take on North Carolina at Noon on ESPN2. Fast and instinctive, Gooden is the kind of great athlete that is typical of the Hurricanes. Good size too at 6’2″ 238, such that he could probably put on a few pounds and fit in the Patriots 3-4 system. Can cover backs and tight ends. Next Friday, October 12th, you can have a lot of fun watching Hawaii play offense. They really light it up and will be at San Jose State at 8:00 PM on ESPN2. Tune in to see highly rated QB Colt Brennan (#15) throw the ball all over the field. Brennan is a bit slight of size, but has a good arm, is very accurate and plays with fire. Only plays in the shotgun, however, so that will be an NFL adjustment for him.