Every Friday, we take a look at the games within the games of college football and try to shine a spotlight on some of the elite positional matchups for the upcoming weekend.
Here are some battles that are on tap for the upcoming weekend:
OC TANNER FARMER VS DT RAEQUAN WILLIAMS
Nebraska is finally starting to get some momentum going under Scott Frost, but they have a big contest ahead of themselves today going up against Sparty. Some will be dialed in to watching Stanley Morgan Jr. against Justin Layne, but that's tired. What's wired is keeping your eyes on the trenches between Tanner Farmer and Raequan Williams. In September, Farmer picked up some buzz after a testy interview that challenged his teammates for not buying in to the program and has been a great leader for the Cornhuskers, playing both center and guard. A redshirt junior, Raequan Williams is a quick first-step defender who is having the best season of his career with 8.5 tackles for a loss and four batted passes.
WR LAVISKA SHENAULT VS CB JULIAN BLACKMON
He's back. Shenault missed the last few weeks with a turf toe injury, but he's back for a crucial Pac-12 match up against good-looking junior cornerback Julian Blackmon. Blackmon has nice length and is having a terrific year coming up from the perimeter in run support and already has more pass deflections than he did last season. The difference is Blackmon is still looking for his first interception of the season after picking off four passes in 2017, and he could have some opportunities to thieve Steven Montez tonight if he locks on to his favorite target Shenault all night.
WR JAMAL CUSTIS VS CB JULIAN LOVE
Notre Dame's all-time leader in pass deflections, Julian really doesn't get enough Love in this weak cornerback class. In fact, Love's 37 pass break ups is good for 10th all-time in NCAA history, and when you realize he's still a junior, that's impressive. Love doesn't possess prototype size for the position, but he makes up for it with elite mental processing, instincts, and ball skills. Syracuse wide receiver Jamal Custis is a towering 6'5" receiver with great foot speed for his size, so this could be a unique and challenging for the 5'11" Love. The only asterisk on this is Love is dealing with an undisclosed injury and is questionable for the game, but even if he can't play, Notre Dame has another promising cornerback in Troy Pride Jr.
OT YODNY CAJUSTE/COLTEN MCKIVITZ VS DE JORDAN BRAILFORD
Talk about development. Oklahoma State edge rusher has doubled his production and statistical output each year since 2015, and his 2018 season has been a head-turning one. Brailford already has 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2018 and is a huge reason why Oklahoma State is tied for second in the NCAA with Alabama and Clemson in sacks. Brailford has worked hard to add several new moves to his arsenal and is a quick processor to stack moves on top of each other with a defined rush plan, and he's going to need all of those moves today against the Mountaineers' bookend tackles. Both Cajuste and McKivitz grade out as day two prospects and will be Brailford's best competition he's faced this season.
RB ALEX BARNES VS LB DAKOTA ALLEN
Kansas State running back Alex Barnes is flying a little bit under the radar, but he's a strong, powerful runner who still manages to get over five yards per carry against stacked boxes week-in and week-out. Barnes has shown strides in improving as a receiver out of the backfield this year and honestly plays with a similar playing style as James Conner. Barnes' only issue has been ball security (seven fumbles in the last two seasons), and he needs to keep the ball high and tight against Texas Tech's WILL linebacker Dakota Allen. Allen has terrific range and is a violent striker on an improved Red Raiders defense, so this should be a fun match up to watch.
QB DANIEL JONES VS CLEMSON FOUR HORSEMEN
Saved the best for last. In Tony Pauline's latest podcast, Pauline said that the redshirt junior Daniel Jones is leaning towards declaring for the draft, but a poor showing against a dominant Clemson defense could cause him to reverse his course. Jones showed off his sneaky athleticism rushing for over 100 yards last week and he might need to be a dual-threat QB to keep the Tigers on their toes this week. Jones is currently projected to be a first round pick in a weak quarterback class, so he needs to show good composure and poise in the pocket with Clelin Ferrell, Christian, Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant breathing down his neck.