Saturday college primer

LSU vs. Georgia
(Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST, CBS)

What to look for:

• LSU senior wideout Brandon LaFell finally looks to be getting on track this season. Over the past two games, he’s hauled in nine catches for 158 yards and four touchdowns. He’s the guy LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson loves to look for off play-fakes when taking shots down the field. Expect Georgia cornerback Prince Miller to get physical with LaFell off the line, much like he did in Week 1 with Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant. Miller showcases impressive strength for a guy his size and possesses the lateral quickness and speed to stay with receivers in and out of their breaks. This is one matchup you can bet scouts will be watching.

• Whenever you get two big-time SEC programs together, you know the defensive line prospects will be plentiful. Georgia has a strong trio of defensive tackles — Geno Atkins, Jeff Owens and Kade Weston — who can push the pocket and create pressure up the gut. LSU has a talented defensive tackle trio in its own right, too, in Drake Nevis, Al Woods and Charles Alexander, as well as an explosive pass-rushing defensive end in Rahim Alem. The scary thing is that all seven of these guys could be playing in the NFL at this time next year.

• Georgia’s Reshad Jones and LSU’s Chad Jones are physically impressive athletes who entered the year rated among the top safety prospects in the country. But through the early part of the season, its been Chad Jones whose play has taken off and Reshad Jones who has been victimized consistently in coverage. It will be interesting to see which talented defensive back makes the difference this afternoon.

Washington vs. Notre Dame
(Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST, NBC)

What to look for:

• If you need a reason to watch this one, look no farther than the battle between two of the nation’s top quarterbacks prospects — Washington’s Jake Locker and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen. Locker has impressed me early this year with his improved accuracy and decisiveness in the pocket. He displays one of the quicker releases in the nation and is consistently able to buy time and create plays outside the pocket. Clausen has been very efficient throughout the first part of the year, as well. I love the toughness he showed last week, playing hurt and leading a game-winning, 72-yard fourth-quarter drive against Purdue. In what’s considered a weak crop of senior quarterbacks, these two would quickly jump toward the head of the 2010 QB class if they came out.

• How will Washington’s defensive front, which was gashed last week against the Stanford run game, hold up this week against Notre Dame’s massive offensive line? Notre Dame averages 315 pounds up front and has the ability to wear down the interior of Washington’s defensive line. This alone could keep the Huskies offense off the field for a significant amount of time this afternoon.

• As bad as Washington’s run defense can be, Notre Dame’s secondary can be equally as suspect. Expect Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian to be very aggressive in his play calling and take some shots down the field against the slower/stiffer Notre Dame corners. Also, anytime Washington’s offense can get Notre Dame safety Kyle McCarthy matched up one-on-one, expect them to try to exploit it.

California vs. Southern Cal
(Saturday, 8 p.m. EST, ABC)

What to look for:

• On Monday, Southern Cal RB Stafon Johnson underwent a seven-hour surgery on his throat after a weight room accident nearly killed him, according to reports. Johnson, who will miss the remainder of the season, was second on the Trojans with 157 yards rushing. It will be interesting to see how USC uses its stable of talented running backs behind starter Joe McKnight. Expect RBs Allen Bradford, Curtis McNeal and C.J. Gable to see an increase in carries.

• One guy who isn’t getting enough credit on the Cal offense is left tackle Mike Tepper. Tepper missed the 2008 season with a pectoral injury but is back for a sixth year of eligibility. He’s been one of the more physical run blockers in the country through the first couple of weeks. Tepper, who’s listed at 6-7, 319 pounds, is consistently able to win his battle at the point of attack and create a push in the run game. Right now, he looks more like a right tackle prospect at the next level, but he certainly has the power to give the Trojans’ defensive ends all they can handle up front.

• The Golden Bears need big days from defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan if they hope to slow down the USC offense. Both guys are big, physical five-technique defensive ends who match up well against the Trojans’ undersized offensive tackle tandem of Charles Brown and Tyron Smith.

Miami vs. Oklahoma
(Saturday, 8 p.m. EST, ABC)

What to look for:

• How well will the Oklahoma offense handle the speed of the Miami defense? Sooners QB Landry Jones has looked better in recent weeks against the likes of Idaho State and Tulsa. Miami’s team speed will be quite the test for an Oklahoma offensive line that struggled to keep QB Sam Bradford clean against the edge speed of BYU.

• Is the blueprint for stopping QB Jacory Harris and the Miami offense now out there after last weekend’s blunder at Virginia Tech? Unfortunately for Oklahoma, the answer is no. Harris had every reason to struggle against the Hokies. He was on the road and playing against an aggressive Bud Foster defense in terrible throwing conditions. I expect the Oklahoma defense to bring a lot of pressure, but at home in the warm Miami weather, Harris should have a good game throwing the ball and making plays in all areas of the pass game.

• One of the key matchups scouts will be watching is Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy against Miami OG Orlando Franklin. Both are very highly rated junior prospects who have the ability to make the leap to the next level at the end of the season. This will be a great tape to watch when evaluating both players.

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