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 Lance Zierlein.
Penn State at Pittsburgh
15 clubs attending:Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams
Details: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Three top players:Penn State (RB Saquon Barkley, WR DaeSean Hamilton, LB Jason Cabinda); Pittsburgh (RB James Conner, DB Jordan Whitehead, DE Ejuan Price)
Zierlein's matchup to watch:RB Saquon Barkley vs. DE Ejuan Price. While commentators and some fans will be looking forward to seeing the battle between star running backs Barkley and Conner, scouts will be more focused on Price and his ability to help contain Barkley. Price suffered through three years of injuries before breaking through with 19.5 tackles for loss (11.5 sacks) last season. He lacks the size to stay at defensive end in the pros, so scouts will want to gauge his athleticism in space and see how he handles lateral movement when giving chase against Barkley. Barkley is the most exciting sophomore back in the country. He has elite vision and change-of-direction ability. Price has burst and is a physical tackler, but he's not always a fluid defender when caught in space against running backs. Barkley should offer quite a challenge to him and help scouts determine how Price might transition as a "stand-up" defender.
BYU at Utah
6 clubs attending:Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions
Details: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
Three top players: BYU (QB Taysom Hill, LB Harvey Langi, RB Jamaal Williams); Utah (DL Lowell Lotulelei, DE Kylie Fitts, FS Marcus Williams)
Zierlein's matchup to watch: FS Marcus Williams vs. QB Taysom Hill. Hill surprised scouts when he decided to return to BYU after being granted a medical redshirt due to yet another season-ending injury. Not only did Hill return, but he also beat out his talented replacement from last season, Tanner Mangum, for the starting job. Hill was one of the most talented quarterbacks I studied during the summer of 2015. The 26-year old has good size and is extremely tough and athletic, but what really caught my eye was his lively arm. Williams is a classic, single-high safety who plays with good discipline and cover skills when asked to match up, but he needs to break more quickly to help against the deep sideline throws. Williams likely has more to gain/lose in this matchup, as his toughness as a tackler and his ability to break quickly on throws will be challenged by Hill's dual-threat capabilities.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.)
4 clubs attending:Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts
Details: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Three top players:Tennessee (DE Derek Barnett, RB Jalen Hurd, CB Cameron Sutton); Virginia Tech (TE Bucky Hodges, CB Brandon Facyson, WR Isaiah Ford)
Zierlein's matchup to watch: WR Isaiah Ford vs. CB Cameron Sutton. Ford is a lanky junior receiver who is more of a traits-based talent than a polished receiver. Ford came out of the gate quickly with 117 yards and a touchdown against overmatched Liberty, but he will get a much sterner test from Sutton. Ford (6-foot-2) has the height advantage on Sutton (5-11) and appears on tape to be much faster as well, but Sutton has started every game of his career. He understands how to play physically and disrupt Ford's routes. For Sutton, his biggest challenge will be to match speed with Ford. On the other side, Ford has to prove that he has improved when it comes to route running and working back to the football or Sutton will end up winning the day.