Week 3 of College Football is here! If your Saturday is wide open, there is a great slate of games available to take in. From noon through midnight, there is a quality game with playoff and NFL Draft implications taking place, which should make for a memorable weekend. Every week, I'll give you a taste of five key matchups to keep an eye on across the country, highlight a prospect who is getting a lot of positive buzz in the media and profile a small-school player to keep an eye on for next year's draft. This week on the College Draft podcast with Ross Tucker, I broke down all the best matchups from some of the top games of the week, but let's look at five more matchups that fans should keep their eyes on.
1. Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer vs. Michigan State Defense
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana - 7:30 PM - NBC
At 6-4, 230 pounds, sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer has prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, and his physical tools are undeniable. He's got a strong arm, very light feet and he has taken his play to a new level this season, winning the starting quarterback job from Malik Zaire. Kizer needs a lot of work with his lower body mechanics, which affect his accuracy and velocity down the field in a negative way, but he's getting a lot of buzz as potentially the best draft prospect at his position in the country.
This will be a tough test for Kizer because the Spartans have NFL talent at all three levels of the defense. In the secondary, safety Demetrious Cox is an instinctive blitzer and tough downhill player who plays a number of roles in the defense. At linebacker, senior Riley Bullough is more athletic than his older brother Max. Bullough doesn't have his older brother's size, but he's got good instincts and the ability to play sideline to sideline. The best prospect on the unit, however, is nose tackle Malik McDowell. The true junior is a disruptive force inside at nose tackle for Michigan State, and has top 10 upside because of his combination of size and athleticism.
2. Florida State RB Dalvin Cook vs. Louisville S Josh Harvey-Clemons
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky - Noon - ABC
Chances are that when this game appeared on the schedule, many figured that Dalvin Cook would be the premier name on the broadcast. That won't be the case thanks to the electric start from Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, but Cook should not be forgotten in this matchup. His dynamic playmaking skills can impact the running game and the passing game, and Florida State has always done a very good job of making sure they get him in space with screens or on misdirection runs taking him to the perimeter. Cook has the ability to take over any game, and if anyone can outshine Jackson on Saturday afternoon, it's the Heisman hopeful.
Josh Harvey-Clemons arrived at Louisville with a lot of hope and a lot of baggage. The safety left the University of Georgia due to off-field concerns, and rejoined his former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham with the Cardinals. At 6-4, 225 pounds, he has rare size for the position, but some (including myself) think he may be better served making the transition to linebacker at the next level. Harvey-Clemons' strength is coming downhill in the run game, and he'll need to be on top of his game against the dynamic Cook in the backfield.
3. Michigan WR Jehu Chesson vs. Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan - 3:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Not many people know much about Jehu Chesson, but he was the best deep threat for the Michigan Wolverines a year ago, and still serves that role well in 2016. His game isn't just about speed, however, as he's able to go up and use his 6-3, 207-pound frame to fight for the ball at the catch point and make contested grabs. Chesson is a really competitive receiver, and while he needs to improve as a route runner he's got the upside to be a starting wideout in the NFL because of his physical gifts.
On the other side of the ball, I'm excited to see the performance of Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. The senior cover man figures to be lost in the shuffle in a strong cornerback class in next April's draft, but he's instinctive, he's tough and he's very versatile. With the ability to play any position in the secondary and be an impact performer on special teams, Awuzie seems to be a good bet to make an NFL roster as a rookie and be a factor.
4. Alabama TE O.J. Howard vs. Ole Miss EP Marquis Haynes
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, University, Mississippi - 3:30 PM - CBS
One of the big surprises coming out of last year's National Championship Game was that star Alabama tight end O.J. Howard announced he would return to school for his senior season. The third-year player had a huge game in that win over Clemson. After being underutilized in Lane Kiffin's offense, many thought he would strike while the iron was hot and turn pro. Howard decided against it, and is vying to be the first tight end off the board this year in a strong class. A strong athlete with capable abilities as a blocker, Howard showed improvement in getting the ball at the catch point last year and is hoping to continue that throughout the course of his senior campaign.
A junior looking to make a real name for himself in the SEC this year, edge rusher Marquis Haynes got off to a hot start in Week 1 against Florida State. While he certainly has the ability to impact the game getting after the quarterback, the staff at Ole Miss used him in a number of ways a year ago, including in coverage against tight ends at times. If these two get matched up, whether it's in space or in the trenches in the run game, it could help propel either one up boards with a strong performance.
5. Western Michigan G Taylor Moton vs Illinois DT Chunky Clements
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois - 4 PM - ESPN News
Moton isn't the best player on the offensive side of the ball, a title that belongs to wideout Corey Davis (who may be the best player at his position in the senior class around the country). The former tackle is at guard this season. After being named an All-MAC player a year ago, he's looking to take the next step in 2016. A member of the Senior Bowl Watch List, many evaluators will go right to this game when watching Moton on film this offseason. This will be a huge matchup for him.
Illinois has a strong defensive line, and like Moton for Western Michigan, Illinois' Chunky Clements flies under the radar on his unit thanks to the presence of Dawuane Smoot. Clements is a strong prospect in his own right, and his ability to disrupt the passing game inside will present Moton with a tough test. Watch out for his very good short-area burst and ability to anticipate the snap on Saturday afternoon.
In a running back group loaded with talent in the junior class, the senior group is flying under the radar. The best of the bunch, however, may be Michigan's DeVeon Smith. A big, powerful back, Smith has three-down potential thanks to his relentless nature as a blocker and natural hands as a receiver. He's a violent runner with very good vision, natural power and a competitive nature that will allow him to stick in the league for a long time. He is my personal favorite in the senior class, and his ability to make defenders miss will serve him well in the NFL.
Four years ago, Charlotte created a football team from scratch. One player who helped to build the team from the ground up is Larry Ogunjobi. A starter at nose tackle in their 3-4 scheme, Ogunjobi is a grinder inside and a fun player to watch because he's relentless, he's super competitive and he can be really disruptive in the backfield. The senior's physical tools are above average at best, but I think he can stick in the league as a top-end backup and spot starter in a 4-3 scheme.