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Bucky's Best: Top CFB matchups to watch in Week 4

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In his weekly Bucky's Best series, former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks identifies the must-see matchups of the weekend in college football.

Most favorable offensive matchup

Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill vs. SMU defense

The sophomore sensation has already played his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation by ringing up impressive numbers in the Aggies' first three games. Hill enters Week 4 with 1,000-plus passing yards and an 11:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio despite early exits in the last two contests. Against a hapless SMU defense that allowed 40-plus points to Baylor and North Texas to start the season, Hill should enjoy a banner day tossing the ball around the yard to an explosive set of pass-catchers that are dangerous in the open field. If Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin decides to keep his foot on the gas in this contest, Hill could walk out of the stadium with another 300-yard effort under his belt.

» Predictions for top 10 games of Week 4

Most intriguing matchup

Indiana RB Tevin Coleman vs. Missouri's defensive line

The Hoosiers are attempting to shed their "basketball" school reputation by leaning on an explosive, fast-paced offense that's been lighting up scoreboards across the Big Ten. While the pace and tempo wears opponents down, it's the electric running skills of Coleman that makes the Hoosiers' offense a nightmare to defend. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound speedster is a blur on the perimeter with outstanding stop-start quickness and burst. He slithers through cracks at the point of attack and shows the ability to take it to the house, as evidenced by his ridiculous 9.3 yards-per-carry average.

» Brooks: Auburn QB Marshall destined for position change in pros

Mizzou's defensive line is known for getting after the passer, but that doesn't mean defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden are slouches against the run. Each defender possesses the speed and quickness to win on slants and angles, while also showing the strength to hold the point against power. Against an Indiana offense that will ratchet up the tempo and spread the field to create running lanes for Coleman, the Tigers need a terrific effort from their edge players to force the Hoosiers to throw against a stacked deck. If the Tigers want to add to their impressive collection of disruptive plays (12 sacks and five interceptions), the defensive line must contain Coleman on early downs. It's a job that's easier said than done, but Ray and Golden certainly give the Tigers a chance to get it accomplished.

Best WR-DB matchup

Alabama WR Amari Cooper vs. Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III

The Crimson Tide might boast the best collection of running backs in college football, but the team's best offensive player is a pass-catcher with pro-ready game. Measuring 6-1, 210 pounds with 4.4 speed, Cooper is a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver with the ability to run every route in the book. He has the ability to blow the top off the zone, yet is comfortable running short and intermediate routes between the hashes. Additionally, he is an explosive runner with the strength and power to run through arm tackles on the perimeter. Given his extraordinary ability, Cooper is a challenge to defend in isolated matchups.

» Ask 5: Which NFL WRs are most like Cooper?

Yet, the Gators might have the right man for the job in Hargreaves. The 5-11, 194-pound sophomore is arguably the top cover corner in the country, exhibiting exceptional instincts, awareness and ball skills. He is adept at playing press coverage, but also shows the ability to shadow and mirror receivers using "off" technique. Thus, he can mix up his looks to throw off Cooper. In addition, Hargreaves possesses outstanding "hops" (leaping ability), so he should fare well in jump-ball situations against Cooper. With Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin intent on feeding his top pass-catcher on the perimeter, Hargreaves' ability to hold up in coverage could be the deciding factor in this SEC showdown.

Best matchup inside the trenches

Florida State OT Cameron Erving vs. Clemson DE Vic Beasley

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks digs deep into the game tape to evaluate college football's most talented players.

» Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
» Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
» Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
» Leonard Williams, DL, USC
» Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
» Wisconsin's Gordon vs. Georgia's Gurley

The suspension of Jameis Winston has owned the headlines, but it's the battle of the trenches that could decide the game. The Seminoles are a blue-collar offense built on a powerful running game, which makes it imperative for Erving to generate a push at the line of scrimmage. With FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher intent on leaning on the running game in Winston's absence, Erving and Co. must create huge lanes for running back Karlos Williams at the point of attack. That means Erving must push around the Tigers' undersized edge players, particularly Beasley, to give the big-bodied runner an opportunity to turn the corner.

» CFB Playoff scenarios: How Week 4 could impact race

For Beasley, this game represents an opportunity for him to silence skeptics concerned about his size and run-support skills. The 6-2, 235-pound pass rusher is an athletic freak off the edge, but he struggles holding the point against physical blockers. Thus, he must find a way to defeat Erving with his first-step quickness and speed, but avoid running around blocks and creating huge lanes on the edge. Beasley bulked up and worked on his run-support skills during the offseason, but his matchup with Erving will allow the NFL world to know how well he has progressed as a run defender.

Best under-the-radar matchup

Virginia safety Anthony Harris vs. BYU QB Taysom Hill

The Cougars are quietly making a run at the College Football Playoff behind Hill, a dazzling dual-threat quarterback with outstanding athleticism and running skills. Hill has already rushed for 356 yards on 62 attempts (5.7 yards per rush) as the director of the Cougars' up-tempo, read-option attack. From his masterful ball-handling skills to his hard-nosed running style, Hill is nearly impossible to slow down as a running threat. Additionally, he's a credible passer capable of delivering dimes on pop passes and deep shots following option action. With Hill's explosive skills forcing opponents to drop additional defenders into the box, the game essentially becomes a "cat and mouse" between the quarterback and a safety on the perimeter.

Looking at Virginia's lineup, I believe defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will use Harris as his designated playmaker in the back end. The All-American safety is an exceptional ballhawk, but is also a willing tackler in the open field. Harris played a huge role in containing Hill a season ago (11 tackles and an interception); he must be a key part of a game plan that will focus on taking away running lanes and forcing the BYU star to become a pocket passer. It worked out well for the Cavaliers in 2013 and it could produce an upset result this season.

Best coaching matchup

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen vs. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops

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Credit Holgorsen for getting the Mountaineers back on track by utilizing a creative playbook that tests the discipline and football acumen of every defender on the field. The innovative play caller allows his passers to throw the ball all over the yard to a talented cast of pass-catchers with freakish "catch-and-run" abilities. As a result, the Mountaineers enter the game with a red-hot passer (Clint Trickett) putting up ridiculous numbers as the director of one of college football's most explosive offensive attacks. Sure, it's easy to dismiss Trickett as a system quarterback, but the slender gunslinger has completed 75.4 percent of his passes (for 1,224 yards) and sports a 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio heading into the game. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, and the Sooners must come up with a solid game plan for containing the Mountaineers' playmakers on the perimeter.

Stoops certainly has the firepower to get it done with a host of explosive pass rushers backed up by an aggressive secondary with sticky hands. But he must be able to deal with the Mountaineers' frenetic pace and tempo on the road. That could mean simplifying the game plan to allow his defenders to play free from clutter and implementing hand signals to alleviate communication concerns. While the Sooners have throttled a number of up-tempo offenses in the past, Stoops will need to be at his best to slow down the Mountaineers in front of their home crowd.

Bucky's Beast

ECU QB Shane Carden

Coming off a spectacular performance (427 pass yards with four touchdowns and one interception) against Virginia Tech, Carden faces a porous North Carolina defense that he lit up for 376 yards and three scores in a 55-31 win a season ago. The 6-2, 221-pound senior is vastly improved as a decision maker and has a talented cast of pass-catchers capable of producing fireworks on the perimeter. Playing at home in front of a raucous crowd in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Carden could deliver an epic performance that helps the Pirates continue to dominate their in-state rivals.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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