It's weird to think that in two weeks the Big Ten will begin their season. It feels like were halfway through the first season, with the other conferences yet to start.
Sam Ehlinger vs. Spencer Rattler
Both Texas and Oklahoma are in positions they didn't think they'd be in at this point in the season. The Longhorns and Sooners are a combined 3-3 after they both lost this past weekend, making the Red River Showdown even more important for the teams but also for their quarterbacks.
Ehlinger's off to an incredible start, throwing for 924 yards with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He's also proven that he can still be a threat on the ground, giving Oklahoma plenty to worry about on Saturday. Rattler is still learning what it takes to be an Oklahoma quarterback, but there's still a ton of promise in his game. He's thrown for 977 yards and 10 touchdowns already this year. Granted, he needs to clean up the mistakes, including the four picks he's thrown so far this year. Turnovers will flip momentum quickly in this game.
Even with the team struggles, there's reason to be excited for both quarterbacks in this game. In the last four matchups between the two, the quarterbacks (Ehlinger, Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray, and Baker Mayfield) participating average 360.5 total yards. History tells us were in for another thriller, and both quarterbacks are capable of having big games. The stakes are high, and a loss puts either program in a bad place.
Elijah Moore vs. Patrick Surtain II
Well first of all, Elijah Moore deserves more credit than he gets. One of the best route runners in college football, Moore can create separation against anyone thanks to his violent cuts and attention to detail in his routes. And I mean anyone. Just ask the Florida secondary.
The Gators defensive backs are as talented as they come, but none of them could stop Moore. The Rebels star receiver caught 10 passes for a career high 227 yards against that secondary, and Alabama definitely took notice. Surtain II and the Crimson Tide secondary are already making an impact, and hoping that he can impress scouts enough to ensure he's a first round pick. We've seen what Moore can do against NFL talent, but this test will be his toughest yet.
Trey Smith vs. Jordan Davis
Georgia's defense is stopping anything and everything in its path. The Bulldogs defense has allowed just one touchdown in their 25 drives this season. Players like Davis and Devonte Wyatt lead the charge up front, and they'll go against a Tennessee offensive line that's just as talented. Smith is a future NFL player, and could go in the first round even with his health concerns.
Power against power, something both Davis and Smith possess. It's the definition of a battle in the trenches, and the winner will determine the success of their unit.
Jaelan Phillips/Quincy Roche vs. Jackson Carman
Future NFL matchup? Check. Phillips is thriving in his first year as a starter for the Canes, proving that he made the right choice to transfer from UCLA. It's still early, but he's giving offensive tackles a tough time and making plays all over the field. Roche's the same. After transferring from Temple, all he's done is living in the opposition's backfield. His 5.5 tackles for loss lead the team. They'll take turns going against Carman, a future NFL first rounder. It's a great opportunity for Phillips and Roche to get some good film out for scouts to watch, and Carman has a chance to impose his will Miami's a hot team right now, but upsetting the Tigers requires their best game yet.
Marvin Wilson vs. Jarrett Patterson
I wish this game was more exciting, but Florida State's not doing their end of the bargain. Wilson remains a potential first round pick despite his teams struggles, and he'll go against a player in Patterson who's still learning. Notre Dame's offense features five returning starters on the offensive line, but it's Patterson who plays the most important role in terms of communication. Throw in a matchup with Wilson, and Patterson has more on his plate this weekend than ever. Notre Dame's trying to prove it's a playoff team, and dominating the Seminoles could send a message. If Wilson dominates this matchup, the Irish offense could struggle to move the ball, so Patterson's play becomes even more important.