Kansas State 44, Oklahoma State 30
This game featured an interesting draft matchup with Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle going against Kansas State's tough front seven led by linebacker Arthur Brown. Randle and Brown were high school track teammates, and the Cowboys would need a massive performance from Randle in order to knock off the undefeated Wildcats. Randle has been one of the top running backs in college football this season, while Brown has led a fierce stop unit.
Randle started the game well with some quality runs that churned out some tough yardage and moved the chains. Kansas State's defense did a superb job of gang tackling to keep Randle's gains limited. The Wildcats had excellent gap integrity from start to finish so the ball-carrier didn't see good running lanes at any point in the contest. Randle fumbled the ball away during the second quarter after getting hit by a few defenders. It was a bad and surprising fumble by the normally sure-handed back.
Brown started a tackle on Randle on a third-and-6 draw play in the third quarter. The tackle stopped Randle a couple yards short of a first down. Kansas State opened up a huge lead on Oklahoma State, so Randle didn't see many carries. His 15 attempts were his lowest total of the season, with the exception of the season opener when he had 107 yards on six carries against Savannah State.
Randle was held to 43 yards by the Wildcats. While he didn't have good opportunities, it was still a disappointing performance given his poorly timed fumble. This showing won't help his stock and could hurt it.
Brown was generally active and around the ball. He totaled seven tackles, and this performance won't help or hurt him.
Kansas State senior quarterback Colin Klein is one of the best players in college football this season. He had another strong performance versus the Cowboys. Klein completed 16-of-22 passes for 245 yards while running for 72 yards (64 net) and a touchdown on 17 carries. He played better than the numbers indicate.
Klein is a great college quarterback, but he doesn't have the arm strength or throwing mechanics to be an NFL starter. Klein could be a late-round pick who is a developmental project as a backup.
Alabama 21, LSU 17
This game, a rematch of last year's National Championship, featured a ton of talent for the NFL. The best matchup in this game occurred in the trenches where Alabama features an NFL-caliber offensive line and LSU has an NFL-caliber defensive line. Both units are comprised of players who will be starting on Sundays.
Alabama senior center Barrett Jones, senior guard Chance Warmack and junior right tackle D.J. Fluker were going against the most challenging defensive line they've seen this year. LSU defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Bennie Logan form an extremely fast duo that would test Jones and Warmack.
Fluker has had a disappointing season as a pass-protector and has allowed a lot of sacks. His pass protection struggles could be minimized if he found a way to shut down LSU defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. Both defender are viewed as early first-round picks.
Fluker had a nice block on Mingo in pass protection on the first possession. Fluker was called for holding on Mingo later in the first quarter. It wasn't a terrible move since Mingo was about to break free. Fluker dragged him down on for an obvious penalty instead of letting him into the backfield.
The Crimson Tide line sprung running back Eddie Lacy for a 28-yard gain. Warmack was beat by Logan, but he got enough contact to help his back get through the backfield. Alabama owned the line of scrimmage on a second quarter 92-yard drive to let Lacy power the ball into the end zone from a few yards out. Jones had a nice block to help get Lacy the final few yards for the score.
Montgomery chased down Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron for a sack just before halftime, beating both the left tackle and tight end on the play. Jones and Warmack later hit blocks to spring Lacy for a good gain on a screen pass. Mingo blocked a pass to force a punt after being well-blocked by Fluker on the previous play. Fluker gave him a big hit to make him pay, but Mingo still got the job done.
Fluker had a great block on the edge to spring T.J. Yeldon for a nice gain inside the LSU 20. Warmack was beaten by Logan on the next play, but Lacy bailed him out with a spin move to get positive yardage. Yeldon fumbled the ball away close to the end zone, and Montgomery recovered the ball for LSU. Late in the game, Logan had a pass batted while getting blocked by Jones.
The Crimson Tide's offensive line dominated the the game-winning final drive. None of the Fighting Tigers defensive linemen could put pressure on the quarterback, and it was an impressive clutch performance by Jones, Warmack and Fluker.
Overall Alabama's offensive linemen won the night. Jones was the most consistent, but Warmack and Fluker had good games, too. Fluker really needed it as he kept Mingo from recording a sack. Mingo was somewhat disappointing while Montgomery had the best night of any of the LSU defensive linemen. None of the players' draft stocks should see a significant change from this game.
Alabama cornerback DeMarcus Milliner could end up being the first cornerback selected next April. He missed a tackle in the backfield on run defense on the second play from scrimmage.Milliner was then beaten for a catch and a first down a few plays later, even though he had good coverage.
Milliner had good coverage on a pass downfield but mistimed his jump, so the pass sailed over his hand. Fortunately for him, the receiver dropped the ball. Milliner had a good open field tackle in run support at the end of the first quarter, which ended a good gainer. He ran down the quarterback for a coverage sack on a blitz on the next play.
Milliner gave up a catch for nine yards, but came back to make a tackle for a loss of five on the next play. He missed a tackle on a short pass in the third quarter, and the receiver turned that mistake into a good gain. Milliner added another whiffed tackle in the backfield in the fourth quarter. Overall, this was an underwhelming performance from Milliner. He had a similar showing last week against Mississippi State, so scouts will want him to play better to close out the season.
LSU junior safety Eric Reid has had a mildly disappointing season. He had a mixed night versus Alabama. There were plays where Reid had some good sticks in run support, but he also had some weak attempts. Reid was burned on a post route and the Crimson Tide receiver was running wide open for a touchdown, but the pass was overthrown. Reid had allowed five yards of separation. He had a hard landing while tackling Lacy just before halftime and had to leave the game temporarily.
The biggest concern with Reid for the NFL is his pass coverage, and that wasn't eased against the Crimson Tide. He may be better off returning for his senior season and improving on that before going pro. That exact move paid off for former Alabama safety Mark Barron. and it could work out for Reid as well.
There is one other draft prospect worth mentioning. Alabama senior middle linebacker Nico Johnson struggled in pass defense against LSU. He was burned for a long reception by a running back on an inside route and gave up a third down reception on an out route. It was proof that Johnson is not a three-down linebacker for the NFL, and thus just a situational run-defender.
Oregon 62, USC 51
USC has been one of the more disappointing teams in the nation, and senior quarterback Matt Barkley hasn't been as dominant as he was in 2011. Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods were a prolific tandem last year, but the senior signal-caller hasn't played as well in 2012 with a shoddy offensive line hurting his cause. Woods has been slowed down by an ankle injury all year and has been replaced by Marqise Lee as the No. 1 receiver in the Trojans' offense. USC would need both Barkley and Woods to step up with a huge performance to have any shot at upsetting Oregon.
Barkley lofted in a perfect deep ball to his wide out for a touchdown early in the first quarter, but the receiver couldn't control the catch for the score. On the next possession, Barkley threw another great pass to his receiver in stride along the sideline in between the cornerback and safety. Barkley was intercepted in the back of the end zone a few plays later. The cornerback got away with mugging Lee. The sophomore wide out quit on the route and didn't keep running. That let the cornerback fall back to make an interception he shouldn't have had.
That turnover helped USC to fall behind 21-3, but Barkley quickly answered. He rolled out and laid out a bomb for Lee. The ball was a beautiful pass as it hit Lee in stride for a 75-yard touchdown. Barkley helped move the ball down the field on the next possession. He had a great play for another touchdown pass. Barkley scrambled and broke two tackles before taking a shot as he lofted a ball precisely across the field to Woods. Barkley placed the ball well for Woods to run up to it and get open from good coverage.
Barkley made a terrible decision on the next possession. He was about to be sacked and tried to fit the ball into a well-covered receiver. It turned into an easy interception for the Ducks. Barkley was bailed out as his defense stepped up and held Oregon to a missed field goal. The signal-caller threw a frozen rope between two defenders for wide out Nelson Agholor on the very next play. The receiver broke free for a 76-yard touchdown on a superbly thrown ball. Barkley was 17-of-26 for 307 yards, three scores and two picks at the half.
A lucky pass-interference penalty bailed Barkley out of an interception. It was a bad decision to throw the pass as Woods had fallen down on the play. Barkley took advantage of the break with a short touchdown pass. Woods (6-71) had a 28-yard catch with a nice effort to fight for more yards in garbage time. That set up a short touchdown throw from Barkley to Lee.
Barkley finished the night having completed 35 of 54 passes for 489 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw some perfect passes and brought his team to within three points in the third quarter. This performance will do more good than harm for Barkley in his bid to be the first quarterback selected next April.
The real star of the game who helped himself the most was Oregon senior running back Kenjon Barner. He gashed the USC defense all night long. Barner ripped off yards in chunks with his great speed and cutting ability. The Trojans had no answer for him.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Barner had a nice touchdown run in the second quarter. He followed his blockers well to run free for 20 yards before breaking a tackle in front of the goal line to get into the end zone. Barner later ripped off a 40-yarder after knifing up the middle and cutting to the sideline to get good yardage. He finished the drive by taking a sweep to the right side go for a touchdown.
Barner helped move the ball in the third quarter with some nice runs, including a 10-yard carry for a touchdown. He had his fourth touchdown on a short run. Barner closed out the victory by scooting up the middle for a touchdown from 22 yards. He finished the night with 324 yards on 38 carries with five touchdowns. This outing should give Barner a real boost as he destroyed a defense that has some players with NFL speed. It will help his cause to be a second-day pick.
Oregon defensive end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan is generally viewed as an early-round pick. He was quiet in the first half and wasn't holding up well in run defense or getting pressure on the quarterback. Jordan stripped Lee of the ball on a wide receiver screen just before halftime to end a Trojans drive deep in the Ducks territory. Jordan left the game with an injury a bit later, so aside from his forced fumble, he was unable to standout as a pass-rusher against USC's passing offense.
One of Trojan who looked bad trying to defend Barner was senior safety T.J. McDonald. He was overmatched by Oregon's speed. The senior overpursued throughout the game, opening up lanes to the outside or inside.
McDonald had an ugly whiff on a tackle darting through the line, but missed Barner completely when he had a shot at him. McDonald was part of a weak defense on a 40-yard run from Barner. McDonald was knocked flat by a wide receiver. The safety took a bad angle at Barner on a short touchdown run later on the drive.
McDonald bit on a fake to the outside on a run play and that left the middle wide open for Oregon to take the ball 57 yards. This was an ugly performance by McDonald that should push him further down in the second day of the draft.
Two other prospects are worth mentioning. USC junior running back Silas Redd had a nice outing. He had two short touchdown runs and totaled 88 yards on 19 carries. USC defensive end Wes Horton had an impressive sack after he burned the left tackle with a speed rush. Horton had some nice rushes beyond that play. The senior needed a good game as he hasn't had as large an impact this season as expected.
Penn State 34, Purdue 9
There were four good defensive draft prospects on display in this Big Ten matchup. The top-rated among them is Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short. The senior started the season on fire, but he has cooled off recently. That trend continued against Penn State.
Short was a complete non-factor in the first half as he was playing through an ankle injury. Short was getting blocked in the ground game and not producing any pressure on the quarterback. He blocked a pass on a fourth down late in the third quarter after being quiet all game. Short read a screen well to almost make a tackle for a loss, but was little late getting there. If the senior was 100 percent, he would've made the tackle.
Short still could be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Purdue looks like it won't make a Bowl game this year, so he should attend the Senior Bowl. If Short plays well there and at the NFL Scouting Combine that would help his cause to go in the top 32.
The most impressive player in the game was Penn State senior outside linebacker Gerald Hodges. He was a fast and physical presence on the field. Hodges had a tackle for a loss of five yards after flying into the backfield on a sweep. He had a superb tackle on a wide receiver to stop him a yard short of a first down on a third-down completion late in the second quarter. Hodges had another tackle for a loss just before halftime on a back side screen pass. He read the play perfectly to run by the slower offensive linemen and wrestle the receiver to the ground.
Hodges had a number of nice tackles in run defense. He was a hair late from having a pick-six in the third quarter. Hodges couldn't quite get there in time to make the catch, but his tipped pass caused an incompletion. He had another strong overall game in what has been an excellent senior season. Hodges is solidifying his stock on Day 2 of the draft.
Penn State senior middle linebacker Michael Mauti had a decent performance. He made nice tackles in the ground game and played well in pass defense. Mauti didn't have any splash plays, but he didn't look bad. Mauti could be a mid-round pick next April.
One draft prospect was injured in this game. Penn State senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill had an ugly leg injury early in the second quarter. He had his left leg bent completely backwards underneath his body as he made a tackle. It was a gruesome sight. Hill was a mid-round pick, but this injury looks very serious and could send him to the late rounds.
Ohio State 52, Illinois 22
There were a few defensive players who will be playing on Sundays in this game. Ohio State junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is viewed as potential high first-round pick, but he didn't standout against Illinois.
Hankins had a disappointing day overall. He was tough at the point of attack and holding his ground, but was making no tackles in run defense. Hankins was getting little pass rush as well. Illinois center Graham Pocic was having a lot of success with guard double-teams on Hankins.
The Buckeyes blew out Illinois so they could afford Hankins not producing some splash plays, but it won't help his stock to be held in check by a team like Illinois. Pocic could see a nice boost.
Ohio State defensive end John Simon had an impressive performance against the Illini. He had a sack on the first play from scrimmage after he came unblocked by the right tackle. His second sack victimized the right tackle in the third quarter. This time, Simon executed a nice spin move to the inside to get free to the quarterback.
Simon isn't a great athlete but is strong and physical. He has a good motor and never quits on a play. Simon will get some sacks just out of his hustle. He looks like a second- or third-round pick who could be part of a good end rotation in the NFL.
It was a miserable game for all of Illinois' defensive draft prospects. Defensive end Michael Buchanan, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and cornerback Terry Hawthorne were all playing on their heels and not making any plays to slow down Ohio State's offense.
Buchanan had one nice pass rush, but otherwise he was a complete non-factor. Hawthorne's coverage was shaky at times, and he had a few missed tackles. Both players didn't help themselves against the Buckeyes. Buchanan and Hawthorne could both be second-day picks, but they need to finish the season playing better than they did against the Buckeyes.
Junior linebacker Jonathan Brown is probably the Illini's best defender. He had a tackle for a loss on the first play for the Illinois defense after tripping up Braxton Miller on a sweep. Brown went down with an injury a short time later and didn't return to the field. The junior could be a second-day pick if he enters the 2013 NFL Draft, but probably would be better off staying for his senior season to try and improve his ranking. Brown performed better as a sophomore.
Texas A&M 38, Mississippi State 13
Two of the most impressive draft prospects in the nation over the past few weeks have been Texas A&M junior left tackle Luke Joeckel and defensive end Damontre Moore. Each one had dominating games against LSU followed by playing well against Auburn. They both kept the momentum going versus Mississippi State.
Moore had a sack on the Bulldogs first drive after cutting to the inside. He burned by the center to run down the quarterback. Moore had an impressive run stuff in the third quarter after beating a block from a pulling guard and bear-hugging the running back for a short loss.
Moore had a relatively quiet game other than those plays, probably because he was playing with an ankle injury. The Aggies' defense was on the sidelines a lot as the offense controlled the ball. Moore looks like a future high first-round pick.
Joeckel had a mostly uneventful game since he was winning his blocks in pass protection and in run blocking. Joeckel had good protection on a deep drop, but quarterback Johnny Manziel held onto the ball for ages and that let the end turn back to the line of scrimmage to chase down Manziel. Joeckel blasted the end on the next play, opening a massive hole for his running back Christine Michael to run 22 yards into the end zone.
Other than those plays, Joeckel was on cruise control, shutting down edge rushers and pushing defenders around in the running game. He is the top left tackle in the nation and could go in the top half of the first round next April.
Another Aggie player who has really been playing well of late is senior wide receiver Ryan Swope. The Bulldogs have a good secondary led by a potential first-round cornerback in Johnthan Banks. Swope kept up his productive play with nine receptions for 121 yards against Mississippi State.
Swope had a nice block on a 37-yard touchdown run by Manziel. Swope caught a 29-yard pass during the next drive on a deep post route that saw him come wide open in zone. He delivered a massive blindside block in the second half on a linebacker who was trying to chase down Manziel.
In the third quarter, Swope took a short catch on an in and out route that he broke downfield for a gain of 40 yards. Swope had another catch of 12 yards on the drive to bring the ball inside the 10-yard line. He had an impressive performance that showcased a well-rounded player as a slot receiver and blocker. Swope looks like a third- or fourth-rounder.
Banks was a non-factor for the Bulldogs. While he wasn't beaten badly in pass coverage, he didn't make any impact plays. Banks also was struggling to get off blocks in run defense. He hasn't played the same since being injured a few weeks ago. Prior to the injury, Banks was flying around the field and consistently making splash plays. He needs to finish the season strong to help keep his stock in the first round.
Two other Aggies offensive players are worth mentioning. Right tackle Jake Matthews was physical at the point of attack. He dominated in the ground game and was a solid pass-protector. The junior Matthews has first-round potential next April. Senior running back Michael had 50 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. He is a good runner who could be a nice mid-round sleeper if he can stay healthy.
Texas A&M senior linebacker Sean Porter was active against Mississippi State. He had a dropped interception in the first quarter while covering a running back in the flat. Porter had a nice tackle for a loss a bit later after he fired into the backfield to chase down the back. Porter had a nice open field tackle in pass defense and a good pass breakup in the fourth quarter. The senior did well in run defense and looks like he is becoming more comfortable as a 4-3 outside linebacker after playing in the 3-4 prior to this season. Porter could turn into a good value pick on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Florida 14, Missouri 7
Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is one of the best defensive prospects in the SEC. He's had an excellent junior season to lead the Tigers' defense. Richardson has played well against good competition, including a standout performance against Alabama. The Gators have a quality offensive line that likes to run the ball up the middle, so Richardson's run defense would see a nice test versus Florida.
Richardson was quiet in the first quarter, but he beat right tackle Chaz Green to fire into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss of six yards in the second quarter. Richardson blocked a field goal attempt a few plays later. He got nice penetration into the backfield while getting his hand up to reject the attempt.
Richardson drew a holding penalty early in the fourth quarter, and it was a huge play because it called back a long touchdown pass for Florida. He then helped make a tackle for a loss on a busted screen pass. Overall, Richardson played well and was disruptive against Florida. He held up extremely well in run defense and had some nice pass rushes. This performance should help confirm that he is worthy of a first-round pick.
Two Florida junior defenders had impressive showings to help their draft stock. Both safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd are expected to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. They combined for a tackle for a loss on a screen pass early on. After tossing the guard to the ground, Floyd had a tackle for a loss of three yards. Elam had a tackle for a loss after running down a sweep a few plays later.
Floyd stuffed two third-quarter runs; the second of which resulted in a tackle for a loss just in front of the end zone. Elam had a clutch play late in the third quarter. Missouri quarterback James Franklin badly overthrew his pass, and Elam caught the ball in his bread basket inside the five-yard line. The junior returned the easy pick to near midfield. It was an impressive tape for each Gators player. Both look like second-rounders right now.
Two Florida seniors are worth mentioning. Running back Mike Gillislee had a beautiful 23-yard run in the first quarter. He used a jump cut in the hole to dart to the outside. The senior then cut back to the middle to spring into the secondary for more yardage. It wasn't all good for Gillislee as the normally sure-handed back fumbled the ball away after getting sandwiched between two defenders.
Gillislee made up for it in the fourth quarter with a 45-yard touchdown on a screen pass. He made a nice jumping catch before following his blocks and slashing across the field to get in the end zone. Gillislee totaled 68 yards on 16 rushes with his touchdown reception. He looks like a potential second-day pick.
Gators senior linebacker Jonathan Bostic had a quality day as a run-stuffer. He had an interception at midfield with less than five minutes left in the game and Florida clinging to a seven-point lead. Bostic did a nice job of trailing in zone coverage while reading the quarterback's eyes. Gillislee could be a second-day pick, while Bostic looks like a mid-rounder.