This weekend's college football schedule is full of intriguing matchups. There are several battles between top 25 teams, including a crucial Pac-12 game. Oregon will look to recapture the country's attention when it squares off against UCLA on Saturday night. Another interesting pairing will take place in Oklahoma, as the Sooners host undefeated Texas Tech. Two of my players to watch will be key participants in those games while the other three are positioned to have big performances this weekend. Here are my five players to watch:
Alabama QB AJ McCarron vs. Tennessee
McCarron has quietly put together another outstanding season for the Crimson Tide. He's completing a career-best 69.2 percent of his passes while tossing 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Alabama hasn't played a close game since its early-season battle against Texas A&M. That might change this weekend, when the Tide play host to a Tennessee squad fresh off a win over South Carolina. McCarron might actually have a chance to play all four quarters, and I expect him to post big numbers as a result.
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro vs. Oklahoma
The Red Raiders head to Norman, Okla., to take on the 15th-ranked Sooners in a huge matchup. Led by the nation's second-leading passing offense, Texas Tech enters this contest with a 7-0 record and is ranked 10th in the initial BCS standings. Amaro, a junior, has been the key player in the Red Raiders' aerial attack. He has a team-high 56 catches for 742 yards and three scores. He has outstanding size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds), instincts and hands. He will need to have a big game Saturday in order for the Red Raiders to keep their winning streak alive.
Oregon WR Josh Huff vs. UCLA
Oregon's offense is loaded with playmakers, led by their talented quarterback, Marcus Mariota. Huff doesn't get much national attention, but he's been a key piece in the Oregon offensive attack for the last four years. The speedy senior leads the Ducks with 32 catches for 627 yards and six touchdowns. He has the speed to create separation vertically, and he's a tough runner after the catch. I expect the Bruins to focus on slowing down the Oregon rushing attack, and that should free up Huff to make a lot of plays.
Auburn RB Tre Mason vs. Florida Atlantic
The Tigers are fresh off a huge road win over Texas A&M. Mason led the way for the Tigers, rushing for 178 yards and a score to lead Auburn to a 45-41 victory over the seventh-ranked Aggies. I was very impressed with Mason's aggressive running style. He lowers his shoulder on contact, and he finishes every run falling forward. This weekend, the Tigers play against a struggling Florida Atlantic defense, and Mason should put up monster numbers.
Missouri DE Michael Sam vs. South Carolina
Missouri's defense has been outstanding throughout the 2013 season. Sam has been the most impressive player on a very fast, physical unit. He leads the nation with nine sacks, and he's also tallied 13 tackles for loss. Florida didn't have an answer for Sam last week, when the senior pass rusher collected three sacks. Sam lacks ideal size, but he's a very instinctive player with strong hands and a big motor. He'll face a big challenge this week against South Carolina.