Every week during the college football season, NFL clubs deploy scouts to campuses all over the country to make in-person evaluations of 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.
Louisville at Clemson
8 clubs attending:Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers.
Details: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Three top players:Louisville (QB Lamar Jackson, DB Josh Harvey-Clemons, DE Devonte Fields); Clemson (QB Deshaun Watson, WR Mike Williams, CB Cordrea Tankersley).
Matchup to watch:Clemson QB Deshaun Watson vs. Louisville DE Devonte Fields. With just two tackles for loss in four games, Fields hasn't made as many big plays as NFL scouts would have expected from a top-tier pass rusher. Saturday is a chance for Fields to serve notice on a big stage that he can be more disruptive. The opportunity should be there; Clemson's pass protection allowed nine QB hurries against Auburn. The challenge for Fields and any pass rusher in getting to Watson isn't just that he's athletic enough to break out of the pocket and outrun them for first downs. It's also that he's got the awareness to avoid a sack with a subtle step or two, and still make a good throw from the pocket. That's a big reason Watson has been sacked just three times in four games.
Stanford at Washington
12 clubs attending:Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers.
Details: Friday, Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Three top players:Stanford (RB Christian McCaffrey, LB Peter Kalambayi, DE Solomon Thomas); Washington (WR John Ross III, CB Sidney Jones, DB Budda Baker).
Matchup to watch:Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey vs. Washington DB Budda Baker. Stopping a back as dynamic as McCaffrey must be a group effort, to be sure, but Baker's role in containing the Cardinal junior star will be as large as anyone's. In three games against a challenging early-season schedule, McCaffrey is averaging 185 total yards per game as the team's leading rusher and receiver. When he breaks past the defensive front seven in either capacity, Baker's ability to stop McCaffrey in the open field will at times be the difference between a first down and a touchdown. Baker is reputed as a big hitter in the secondary, but his approach here should be to throttle down, wrap up, and make a sure tackle, lest he end up on the elusive McCaffrey's highlight reel.
Tennessee at Georgia
11 clubs attending:Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts.
Details: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Three top players:Tennessee (RB Jalen Hurd, DE Derek Barnett, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin); Georgia (RB Nick Chubb, S Dominick Sanders, RB Sony Michel).
Matchup to watch:Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin vs. Georgia RB Sony Michel. With Chubb's status for the game looking questionable at best, it's looking more and more like Michel's chance to prove why he's one of college football's most gifted backups; more of a star-in-waiting than a second-teamer. Unlike the more powerful Chubb, Michel's game is more about speed and elusiveness. Reeves-Maybin is one of Tennessee's best open-field tacklers and, if healthy, could play a key role in containing Michel on the perimeter. Keep an eye on Reeves-Maybin's ability to wrap and finish tackles with a shoulder injury that forced him out of last week's game against Florida.