With the notion of finding the top matchups between highly-rated prospects as the premise, let's take a scout's look at the five "must-see" college games for this weekend:
USC at Ohio State
The weekend's marquee matchup will have a host of scouts in attendance to see these football factories duke it out in Columbus. The Trojans have talent on both sides of the ball, but the game's main attraction will be Taylor Mays. The hard-hitting safety may be the top defensive player in the entire draft, and scouts will hope that Mays validates his status with a game-changing performance.
Clemson at Georgia Tech
Scouts are flocking to Atlanta this weekend to check out a pair of speedsters playing against top competition. RB C.J. Spiller and WR Jacoby Ford enjoyed spectacular debuts against Middle Tennessee State, but the Yellow Jackets pose a stiffer challenge this week. Spiller, who scored on a 96-yard kick return and added a 50-yard punt return, will get a chance to showcase his dynamic skills as a running back this week after leaving last week's game early with an injury. While scouts are excited about his speed and big-play ability, some question Spiller's toughness and durability as a full-time runner.
Ford continues to intrigue scouts with his speed and game-changing potential as a receiver/returner. The ACC 100-meter sprint champion posted a 61-yard punt return score last week, and tallied a 43-yard receiving touchdown on a spectacular catch-and-run. However, Ford's penchant for dropping passes continues to raise doubts about his hands.
Defensively, scouts want to see how well Ricky Sapp holds up against the Yellow Jackets' physical running game. He has been regarded as one of top pass rushers in the country, but he needs to show that he is more than a one-dimensional prospect.
Troy at Florida
Troy, the unheralded school in Alabama, has a burgeoning reputation for producing NFL talent, and the Trojans have three players (DE Brandon Lang, DE Cameron Sheffield and LB Boris Lee) that are regarded as solid prospects. Facing a star-studded Gators offense that loves to pass, the trio has a chance to boost their draft status. Lang, in particular, can rise up the charts by displaying the pass-rushing skills that have some pegging him as an early round selection.
For the Gators, scouts are closely monitoring Tim Tebow's development as a passer. While the former Heisman Trophy winner has been lauded for his intangibles, his pro potential will hinge on passing the ball. The game against Troy gives him another chance to showcase his ability to do just that.
Michigan at Notre Dame
This matchup in South Bend is sure to draw a large scouting contingent anxious to see the battle in the trenches between the Wolverines' Brandon Graham and the Fighting Irish's Sam Young. Graham is a hard-working edge player capable of disruption, but Young is a stout pass protector who flashes the ability to anchor against power. The winner of this duel could earn favor in the eyes of many. Additionally, scouts will cast an eye on the Wolverines WR Greg Matthews to see if the senior is poised to break out in 2009.
Vanderbilt at LSU
The Commodores' battle with the Tigers not only has SEC implications, but also features an intriguing matchup between a highly-regarded corner (Vanderbilt's Myron Lewis) and a top-ranked receiver (LSU's Brandon LaFell). The Tigers' playmaker was kept in check last week against Washington (four receptions for 34 yards), but remains the team's top target, and has the skills to explode when given opportunities.
However, Lewis has the size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) to challenge LaFell at the line and down the field in jump ball situations. With "big" corners being hard to find, Lewis' could help himself this weekend.