Every week during the college football season, NFL clubs deploy scouts to campuses all over the country to make in-person evaluations on draft prospects. Naturally, the bigger games featuring more top prospects tend to draw larger contingents of scouts. Each week, College Football 24/7 brings you a look at the teams credentialed to attend three of the biggest games in college football. This week's glance includes analysis from NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter.
Florida State at Louisville
11 clubs attending:San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings.
Details: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 12 p.m. ET (ABC)
Three top players:Florida State (RB Dalvin Cook, OT Roderick Johnson, DE DeMarcus Walker); Louisville (QB Lamar Jackson, DE Devonte Fields, DB Josh Harvey-Clemons).
Reuter's matchup to watch: OT Roderick Johnson vs. DE Devonte Fields. Seeing Jackson face Florida State's athletic defense (including Walker) is going to be worth the price of admission. The prospect matchup I'm most interested in seeing, however, is Johnson vs. Fields. Johnson's height and length make him an intriguing left-tackle prospect, to be sure. But can he stay with the speed and power of Fields to protect redshirt freshman Deondre Francois' blind side? If Johnson can muster the strength to anchor vs. Fields' bull rushes and the athleticism to stay with him around the pocket, scouts will take notice. Fields, on the other hand, has a big stage here to make a statement about where he belongs among pass rushers in the 2017 draft class.
Alabama at Ole Miss
13 clubs attending:New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Details: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Three top players:Alabama (DL Jonathan Allen, S Eddie Jackson, TE O.J. Howard); Ole Miss (QB Chad Kelly, TE Evan Engram, DE Marquis Haynes).
Reuter's matchup to watch: TE Evan Engram vs. S Eddie Jackson. In a game with several individual matchups that NFL scouts will be watching closely, the battle between Engram and Jackson might be the most crucial for the Rebels' chance of an upset. Two weeks ago, Kelly couldn't rely on the running game to slow down Florida State's pass rush (he had 15 of the team's 67 rushing yards), nor could he assume his defense would stop the Seminoles' offense (580 total yards). Those scenarios are likely to play out again when Nick Saban's defense shows up across the line of scrimmage. Sure, Kelly has very good receivers in freshman A.J. Brown, junior Damore'ea Stringfellow and senior Quincy Adeboyejo. But Kelly's best big-play threat might be Engram, who caught nine passes for 121 yards and a score against FSU. Saban knows this, and might trust former cornerback Jackson, now a safety, to stay with Engram on his routes to neutralize the threat. If Jackson keeps the athletic Engram at bay, he'll curry favor with NFL scouts for his cover skills. If Engram can free himself from man coverage, he'll earn praise from those same scouts. Watch the middle of the field when these two are face-to-face on Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State at Oklahoma
9 clubs attending:Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Details: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
Three top players:Ohio State (QB J.T. Barrett, C Pat Elflein, LB Raekwon McMillan); Oklahoma (RB Samaje Perine, OT Orlando Brown Jr., RB Joe Mixon).
Reuter's matchup to watch: RBs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon vs. LB Raekwon McMillan. There's no doubt that Mayfield will have to make plays to beat the Buckeyes, but the thunder-and-lightning combination of Perine and Mixon must keep the team on schedule for the offense to fire on all cylinders. McMillan is the leader of Ohio State's defense, and he has the physicality to stop Perine and athleticism to corral Mixon before he gets into the open field. One other matchup to keep an eye on -- Brown (son of the late Orlando Brown) vs. Buckeyes defensive end Sam Hubbard. We'll be talking about those guys quite a bit in the years to come.