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Titans Fan Guide: Roaring Rivalries

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Breaking down some of the key prospects in the big ACC/Big Ten/Pac-12 rivalry games on tap

Everett Golson. Can he step up on the big stag?
Everett Golson. Can he step up on the big stag?
Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana at Penn State NOON ESPN

- The Hoosiers travel to (Un)Happy Valley and take on the crestfallen Nittany Lions. Indiana suffered a heartbreaking loss last week to Ohio State in which they led for a vast majority of the game. It came down to a failed 4th and goal attempt. Penn State has been finding new and creative ways to traumatize star QB Christian Hackenberg every week it seems. Which team will pick itself off the mat first to make a run in the Big Ten? Can James Franklin right the ship?

Indiana prospect to watch

1. Jordan Howard 6'1 230 RB Junior

- Howard transferred to Indiana after UAB (temporarily) shut the football program down for financial reasons. He's a big physical back that led C-USA in rushing last year. Howard is off to a good start this year, leading the Big Ten in rushing.

Penn State prospect to watch

1. Christian Hackenberg 6’4 220 QB Junior

- He was a much heralded five star recruit once upon a time with a promising freshman season. Hackenberg has morphed into a carbon copy of Jay Cutler in all facets such as behavior and arm talent. He has turned into a whiny and petulant little child every time a negative play happens. Also like Cutler, possesses a prodigious arm and very little pocket awareness. Combine that with the skittishness of Blaine Gabbert, he would be lucky to get drafted within the first three rounds. The OL being a total sieve has not helped him at all. James Franklin has ruined him completely.

Georgia Tech at #6 Clemson 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2

- The Ramblin Wreck(ed) travels up north to Clemson in what could be the ACC Coastal decider. Clemson survived a furious rally by Notre Dame last week 24-22 after dominating the proceedings early. Georgia Tech desperately needs a win to keep its hopes alive for Charlotte after suffering three consecutive losses. Can the Tigers avoid the trap game blues after a huge win last week? The Tigers also have an additional motivating factor in the tragic flooding that struck its home state of South Carolina.

*Please donate whatever you can to Red Cross in South Carolina’s time of great need*

**For the Tennessee residents in the Nashville area, Vanderbilt is collecting items to transport in their football equipment truck to send to SC**

Georgia Tech prospect to watch

Jamal Golden 5’11 193 S RS Senior

- Golden is one of the best safeties in the ACC. His measureables aren’t the greatest in the world but makes up for it with tremendous instincts and closing speed. Golden is fundamentally sound in all aspects of the defense. Experienced as a kick returner. Has an injury history as he was redshirted in 2013 for one.

Clemson prospects to watch

Mackensie Alexander 5’11 185 CB RS Sophomore

- Alexander is the second best corner in the conference. He boldly claimed that he was the best corner in the ACC and he just might have the skills to back it up. Fundamentally sound and is very coachable. Athleticism is above average as well. However, Alexander is old for a RS Sophomore at 22 years old.

Mike Williams 6’3 205 WR Junior

- The heir apparent to Sammy Watkins has a starting job to call his own after a standout sophomore campaign. Williams is essentially Martavis Bryant 2.0 as his route running skills haven’t fully developed yet and is known as a deep threat only. He could be the nation’s top receiver by the end of 2015. Has very good body control and ball skills. Had a major health scare (was carted off) in the first game due to a collision with the goalpost but should be ready to go tonight.

Jayron Kearse 6’4 205 S Junior

- Kearse is one of the top safeties in the ACC, if not the entire country. Athleticism is off the charts good but he needs to work on fundamentals. Very inexperienced with only 17 career starts. Needs an NFL strength and conditioning program desperately as frame cannot hold up for 16+ games as presently constituted. NFL bloodlines are impressive as any prospect in this year’s class. He’s a cousin of former Miami Hurricane DB Phillip Buchanon (who had a good career with the 49ers after his career with the storied early 2000s Canes teams). The last name should be very familiar to Titans fans as he’s the nephew of former Titans standout pass rusher Jevon Kearse.

#13 Northwestern at #18 Michigan 3:30 PM Big Ten Network

- A battle between two surprisingly good teams with signature wins and losses against the Pac-12. Northwestern’s win over Stanford in week 1 looks a lot better now with the Cardinal in the Pac-12 North driver’s seat. Michigan’s loss to Utah looks legitimate as the Utes are rolling right now. Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines back on its way towards contention. Pat Fitzgerald could be Bill Snyder 2.0 if he keeps this up.

Miami at #12 Florida State 8 PM ABC

- The FSU vs Miami rivalry is the best one in all of college football regardless of record and ranking. The passion between these sides is often unmatched by other rivalry games. Many Noles and Canes literally grew up playing with or against each other from the Florida panhandle to the sunny beaches of Miami. Both programs have sent a lot of good NFL prospects over the years. When both teams are doing well, no other rivalry can top it in sheer numbers of NFL talent, pageantry, and passion. Not even the Iron Bowl. Miami is coming off an embarrassing loss to Cincinnati last week while the Noles let Wake Forest hang around until late in the game. Last year’s game was a nail biter (in a season full of them for FSU). Can the inconsistent FSU offensive personnel not named Dalvin Cook finally get going? Can the Canes rebound with a better showing than last week?

Miami prospects to watch

Stacy Coley 6’1 187 WR Junior

- Phillip Dorsett who? Coley could end up being a better receiver than Dorsett in their Miami careers. He was a highly touted recruit that signed with the Canes despite their uncertain QB situation and NCAA allegations at the time. Needs to improve his consistency in route running and hands. Needs to quit looking for the home run play and takes what the defense gives him. Experienced at both punt and kick returns. Needs to add more muscle to his frame as currently built, he won’t hold up for the rigors of an NFL schedule.

Deon Bush 6’1 205 S Senior

- Bush is a Canes lifer in that he stuck around even with all the negativity surrounding the program. On the field, he could end up challenging for the best safety in the class when it’s all said and done. Miami’s best defender and it isn’t close. Been used in a variety of situations. Needs to hit the weight room along with Coley. Fundamentally sound tackler and is very consistent in pass defense.

Florida State prospects to watch

Everett Golson 6’0 200 QB RS Senior

- Golson is a graduate transfer from Notre Dame who elected to leave South Bend after allegedly falling out with HC Brian Kelly. He has a propensity to turn the ball over at alarming rates, which hasn’t shown itself thus far in Tallahassee. Golson is very scattershot but has enough arm strength to make all the big league throws. Pocket presence is not ideal. Mental toughness is unquestioned. He’s very position specific in that he doesn’t have the ideal measureables to change positions in the pros.

Jalen Ramsey 6’1 204 DB Junior

- Ramsey is arguably the Seminoles’ best player. Athletic ability, instincts, and ball skills are very good. Versatile defender as he’s played safety, corner, and some linebacker. Had a monster 2014 season as a sophomore, winning several games by himself (see Louisville and Miami games in particular). He will play 2015 as a boundary corner exclusively after the pro departure of several teammates at that position. Barring a dip in form and/or injury, Ramsey is likely a top ten pick next year should he take that route. Funny note: Ramsey is also one of kick returners but he has to change his jersey on the sideline before every kick due to the NCAA rule that no two players on the same unit can have the same number. WR Kermit Whitfield also wears #8 so Ramsey has to switch to #17.  He asked permission from former Noles legend Charlie Ward to wear his retired #17.

Terrance Smith 6’4 224 OLB RS Senior

- Smith was the heir apparent to current Jaguar linebacker Telvin Smith. Speed is the name of his game and he brings not much else to the table. Smith is one of two linebackers on the roster currently healthy and active after multiple injuries and transfers. He needs a good 2015 campaign to get drafted late. Projected to miss the Miami game due to injury

Chris Casher DE 6’4 250 RS Junior

- Casher is an above average athlete with very little that could translate to outside linebacker. It was an embarrassing sight when he was ordered to drop back into coverage by DC Charles Kelly (who’s proven to be in over his head but that’s another story for another time). A four star recruit from Alabama. Has some pass rush moves but needs further development.

Roberto Aguayo K RS Junior 6’1 203

- Aguayo is the best kicker in all of college football, no questions asked. Possesses a strong leg and is one of the most accurate kickers in history. He has made four of five kicks from 50 yards and beyond in his career. Hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (150+ tries) so far in his illustrious career. 2013 Lou Groza award winner and runner up for the 2014 award. He actually contemplated declaring for the 2015 draft before deciding to return to school. Could’ve been drafted within the first 3 or 4 rounds had he done so. He has the draft option again this year. Would be the second kicker in school history to declare early should he choose that. (Sebastian Janikowski is the first and only kicker in NCAA history to do so).

#23 Cal at #5 Utah 10 PM ESPN

- The nightcap to a day full of great action is a battle between two undefeated teams in the Pac-12. A lot of potential for #Pac12AfterDark action in this one. Interestingly enough, this is the first time that both teams are facing each other as ranked opponents since Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers duked it out. Utah is coming off a complete destruction of Oregon (in Eugene, no less) two weeks ago while Cal is coming off three straight nailbiting wins. Which talented QB will show up? Can the Utes keep it going all the way to Santa Clara and beyond? Or can the Bears pull off the upset?

Cal prospect to watch

Jared Goff 6’4 210 Junior QB

- Goff is the top draft eligible quarterback in this year’s class. His direct comparison could be the Titans’ very own Marcus Mariota. Goff possesses just enough arm strength to make all the big league throws. Intelligence and system versatility are also a plus. A traditional pocket passer developed in the Texas Tech style Air Raid offense (Sonny Dykes is a Mike Leach disciple). However, Goff has some questions as well, namely can he hold up for the entire season given his frame. Another negative is the system he’s currently in doesn’t bode well for his future given the lack of success from former Air Raid QBs. Is it pure talent or the high tempo spread system making him look good?

Utah prospects to watch

Travis Wilson 6’7 233 Senior QB

- Wilson is pretty much Mike Glennon 2.0 with the injury history. He’s missed a lot of the past two years with various injuries like a broken finger, concussion, and is currently dealing with a shoulder issue. Very inconsistent game and could be a one year hit like Mark Sanchez. Doesn’t have a lot of arm strength and has happy feet in the pocket trying to compensate for the lack of arm talent. Athleticism isn’t the greatest either.

Devontae Booker RB 5’11 212 Redshirt Senior

- Booker was one of the best backs in the country last year and will look for a repeat performance. He’s a bigger back in today’s world and knows how to use his strength to get up field in a hurry. Instincts are very good. Knows what he is as a back and doesn’t dance around looking for a hole. A good receiver out of the backfield.

Bonus game to watch:

Navy at #15 Notre Dame 3:30 PM NBC