Penn State at #1 Ohio State - 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC
DT Anthony Zettel, 6-foot-4, 284 pounds (#98, RS Senior)
Zettel is admittedly one of my favorite defensive tackle prospects in the upcoming draft. I mean, how can you not like a dude that tackled a tree in the middle of the woods just because he needed firewood for a bonfire? That is some grade-A badassery right there.
As a junior last year, Zettel ended the season with eight sacks (3rd in Big 10), 17 tackles for a loss (2nd) and three interceptions (7th). Yes, three interceptions for a defensive tackle, and one of which was a 40-yard pick-six. That has to be a record of some sort.
You have to be pretty strong to attempt to tackle a dead tree. On tape, Zettel fits the bill as a strong and relentless DT and still has room to add some extra weight and muscle. Watch as Zettel tears through a pair of Michigan State O-linemen and forces an incompletion using his impressive strength and violent hands.
That is the work of a high-motor player. It's very rare that you will see Zettel ease up or take a play off.
If you want to see Anthony Zettel at his best, his tape vs. Rutgers was nothing less than sheer dominance. Here are a few GIFs from that game:
Zettel's tape vs. Rutgers will have you believing he is a surefire first-round pick next year. His reaction time off the snap is lightning quick, which allows him to attack before the O-line is even able to react. He's a very versatile player that can line up all over the D-line and has an abundance of pass rushing moves in his arsenal.
However, there are a few wrinkles to his game that may drop him into the Day 2 or 3 range. One of those concerns is the fact that Zettel ends up on the ground way too often. It's a weird knock for a DT, I know, but when it becomes noticeable, it's not something you like to see. This is what had a lot of evaluators concerned with Stanford's Henry Anderson last year.
I would also like to see Zettel be a little more consistent with shedding blocks and using his hands. At times he would shed blocks with ease, like we saw in the GIF earlier against MSU. When he was unable to get a good jump off the snap, he would often stand straight up at a lull. This is a great matchup for Zettel to prove he should be considered a first-round draft pick.
Other players to watch:
QB Christian Hackenberg, 6-foot-4, 228 pounds (#14, Junior)
S/CB Jordan Lucas, 6-foot-0, 199 pounds (#9, Senior)
TE Kyle Carter, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds (#87, RS Senior)
WR DaeSean Hamilton, 6-foot-1, 206 pounds (#5, RS Sophomore)
DT Austin Johnson, 6-foot-4, 323 pounds (#99, RS Junior)
DE Carl Nassib, 6-foot-7, 272 pounds (#95, RS Senior)
CB Trevor Williams, 6-foot-0, 200 pounds (#10, Senior)
DE Joey Bosa, 6-foot-6, 275 pounds (#97, Junior)
Ask just about any evaluator and they're going to tell you Bosa is in their top-5, if not even their No. 1 prospect on the board at this point. He is the perfect blend of being an athletic, strong and technical at the DE position. He succeeds at a variety of different moves as a pass rusher. He can drive OTs back into the QB with his strength and full arm-extension, or can catch you sleeping with a quick swim or spin move.
As a run stuffer, Bosa is extremely disciplined and rarely loses contain. He keeps his head up and uses his awareness to track the ball carrier. He also had an astounding 22 tackles for a loss last year to lead the Big 10. Bosa has also proved that he can play almost anywhere along the line. I was actually most impressed with his ability to rush the passer from the 3-technique. Who knows, maybe he'd be a perfect fit for the Lions to play in Jason Jones' role. He will certainly be on the board when the Lions pick next year at... NUMBER ONE OVERALL, BABY! :(
Other players to watch:
OT Taylor Decker, 6-foot-8, 315 pounds (#68, Senior)
CB Eli Apple, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds (#13, RS Sophomore)
OLB Darren Lee, 6-foot-2, 235 pounds (#43, RS Sophomore)
RB Ezekiel Elliot, 6-foot-0, 225 pounds (#15, Junior)
S Vonn Bell, 5-foot-11, 205 pounds (#11, Junior)
QB Cardale Jones, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds (#12, RS Junior)
QB J.T. Barrett, 6-foot-2, 225 pounds (#16, RS Sophomore)
WR Braxton Miller, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds (#1, RS Senior)
WR Michael Thomas, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds (#3, RS Junior)
DT Adolphus Washington, 6-foot-4, 290 pounds (#92, Senior)
OG Pat Elflein, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds (#65, RS Junior)
ILB Joshua Perry, 6-foot-4, 254 pounds (#37, Senior)
TE Nick Vannett, 6-foot-6, 260 pounds (#81, RS Senior)
And probably 100 more names.
#7 Michigan State at #12 Michigan - 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Michigan State offense vs. Michigan defense
Don't think I forgot about this one, y'all. I know a lot of you are invested in this game as much as I am. I have to say that I'm excited to see the competition back in this rivalry, although I'm not too pleased with how the Wolverines are looking a hell of a lot better than my Spartans. Michigan hasn't given up a single point in three straight games. That's pretty damn good. Despite dealing with a plethora of injuries, Michigan State's high-powered offense will hope to not be the fourth straight team to get shutout by the Wolverines.
I expect a hard fought battle in the trenches with a new and improved Chris Wormley leading the charge for the Wolverines. The biggest strength for Michigan, however, is their linebackers. Both Desmond Morgan and Joe Bolden are having spectacular years and look to try to shut down MSU's feared rushing attack.
For the Spartans, it's all up to Connor Cook to put on a similar performance as he did against Rutgers. When he misses, he misses high, so Michigan should be on high alert. You can almost guarantee a few chances for an interception when Cook's throwing, but also several spectacular throws. It just comes with the product. They're also going to need All-American OT Jack Conklin in the game to combat Michigan's front-seven, along with a healthy LJ Scott, who appears to be the Spartans' best option at RB. Go Green!