I love college football. I don't need any excuse to watch the Central Michigan Chippewas vs. the Toledo Rockets on a random weekday night. One fun part of catching college games is projecting the most talented individuals' career path. Are they NFL caliber? Where will the fall in the draft? Do I want them on the Browns?
Now, I have refused to join these conversations on DBN and elsewhere for the first half of the NFL season. Partially, because I wanted to focus on this years' Browns, this years' Buckeyes, etc. Mostly, the 2010 draft was too far away. Too much could happen. The no-doubt #1 pick, a QB, could have a severe shoulder injury. Some big DT could go from a late day one pick to a clear top-3 player based, in part, on one of the most dominating games every by a player at his position. The Browns could win a couple games and change their draft position from top 3 to top 12. There was too much speculation, not enough information, and I just wasn't mentally prepared to discuss the draft.
Well, now the Browns are clearly a bad team. They are 1-7, the bottom of just about every power ranking, and even with a very soft second half schedule, it is impossible to see them winning enough games to fall out of the top 10 in the draft. So, now that it is the second half of a bad Browns season and the stretch run of the NCAA season, draft talk seems inevitable.
So here are a few college games I plan on watching this weekend and the players that I will be keeping an eye on. I look forward to hearing your suggestions on other players or games to keep an eye on:West Virginia @ Cincinnati Friday, 8 PM, ESPN2: Are the Cincinnati QBs just a product of the system? I'm always skeptical of that criticism, but I've also seen enough of Cincinnati QB Tony Pike to think he has at least a chance at making in the next level. Provided he can stay healthy and add some bulk. Also watch: Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard- good routes, but enough speed/size?
Georgia Tech @ Duke, Saturday NOON, ESPN2: I love Georgia Tech this year. I don't know when the last time I saw a dedicated triple option offense run so effectively with such good athletes. Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer is bigger and stronger than someone like CJ Spiller and still pretty fast. I'm a big fan of multiple talented RBs on a NFL team, and Dwyer with Harrison and Davis seems too awesome to be true. I've seen him anywhere in the top 3 rounds. Also watch: Duke DT Vince Oghobaase, who would be a NT in our scheme, and Georgia Tech S Morgan Burnett and DE Derrick Morgan have been as high as mid first round on some mock draft boards.
Iowa @ Ohio State, Saturday 3:30 PM, ABC: I'll be honest, I'll be watching this game as a crazed fan of Ohio State. But I will try to notice how Ohio State S Kurt Coleman fairs after a couple quiet weeks. He should be there for the Browns in the 2nd or 3rd round if they don't land Berry or Mays in round 1. Also watch Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga as he will be tested by the best defensive line in the country (watch Gibson and Heyword- if they leave OSU early, they'll be taken in the first two rounds) and the Browns could use a young upgrade at the RT position to go with Alex Mack and Joe Thomas.
Alabama @ Miss St., Saturday 7:00 PM, ESPN: The SEC has been tough to figure out. I know the defenses are good, but these offenses look flat out bad this year, and that includes Florida and Bama. If these games were played in the Big Ten it would be considered bad football, but since its in the sunny south, they say it is tough football. That critique aside, this game is filled with defensive NFL draft picks from Alabama. I don't know a lot about them, but they include LB Rolando McClaim, DT Terrence Cody (Shaun Rogers long lost brother?), CB Marquis Johnson, and S Justin Woodall.
Games I'll flip to on Saturday:
Notre Dame @ Pitt (8PM ESPN): Can Jimmy Claussen and his talented WRs look good against a good defense?
Tennessee @ Ole Miss (NOON CBS): Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy is supposed to be a freak and among the best in the country. Tennessee S Eric Berry is a DBN favorite, but I haven't seen him much yet.
Nebraska @ Kansas (3:30 PM, ABC): Suh.