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Titans Fan Guide: Rivalry Week!

Which programs will further their case for the playoff committee? Which prospects will rise and fall? Rivalry week is always fun for the off the field shenanigans pulled by fans, politicians, coaches and sometimes even players.

Darron Lee. Do want
Darron Lee. Do want
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

#8 Ohio State at #10 Michigan NOON ABC

"The Game"

- The much anticipated showdown between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh is finally here. Possibly the best rivalry in football. The governor of Ohio recently signed legislation banning khakis and Harbaugh went to Bo Schembechler's grave to bust open a buckeye plant with a hammer. Ohio State was defeated by Sparty last week on a last second field goal. After which, the level of selfishness and apathy in the Buckeyes program was conveniently revealed by star RB Ezekiel Elliott. Michigan is coming off a win over Penn State last week. The winner is still alive in the Big Ten East race for a few hours. Several Titans past and present will be watching intently as Eddie George will root on his Buckeyes over Taylor Lewan and Mike Martin's Wolverines.

Ohio State prospects to watch

1. Joey Bosa 6'5 275 DE Junior

- He could be the country's best defensive end prospect. A favorite to win all of the major lineman awards in 2015. Clowney 2.0?

2. Ezekiel Elliott 6'0 225 RB Junior

- Elliott was last seen trampling through both Alabama and Oregon during the playoffs, which he ran for over 200 yards in each contest. Maurice Clarett with better athleticism and less off field baggage. Has elite vision and instincts. Rarely ever takes a loss. Unfortunately we won't be able to see the throwback cutoff jersey as the NCAA has banned those. Draft Status: Declared

3. Darron Lee 6'1 235 OLB RS Sophomore

- Lee is the steady defensive general for the Buckeyes. Has the potential to be a lighter and faster Aldon Smith/Luke Kuechly combo.

4. Adolphus Washington 6'4 290 DT Senior

- Washington has been a force in the middle for the Buckeyes. Really came on last year after two middling years prior. Could be Nick Fairley good if he maintains his junior form.

5. Taylor Decker 6'7 317 OT Senior

- Decker compares favorably to another Taylor in the Titans own Taylor Lewan (I know this is sacrilege in Ann Arbor). The best tackle prospect in the class without question.

6. Cardale Jones 6'5 250 QB RS Junior

- The darling of the Buckeyes' playoff title run came back to school after seriously considering declaring for the draft. Should he start in 2015, he's a much more athletic Byron Leftwich (who has had a pretty decent NFL career all things considered). Can he take the next step in read progression? Draft Status: Declared

7. Vonn Bell 5'11 205 FS Junior

- The former 5 star recruit nearly picked the Volunteers to follow in Eric Berry's footsteps but chose the Buckeyes instead. He's an above average athlete with NFL quality instincts and vision. A hard hitter with good tackling form.

Penn State at #5 Michigan State 3:30 PM ESPN

- Michigan State might be in for a letdown game against the Nittany Lions after an emotional win over the previously undefeated Buckeyes. Penn State is coming in on a two game losing streak. Michigan can wrap up the East division with a win. Penn State is already bowl eligible. This could be QB Christian Hackenberg's last conference game as a member of the Nittany Lions. He's been repeatedly turned into mincemeat by his horrific OL. James Franklin is nothing but a farce of a head coach.

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.

Michigan State prospect to watch

Connor Cook 6'4 220 QB Redshirt Senior

- Cook is the second or third best QB prospect in the nation. He's more than experienced as a RS Senior. Has an above average arm talent but is very scattershot in consistency. He reads the field very well and will take what is given to him in most cases. However, he has a tendency to rely on his arm too much, which leads to a severe breakdown in mechanics. Best case scenario is Jay Cutler without the on and off field antics.

#14 North Carolina at NC State 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2

- The battle between these two traditional Tobacco Road hoops rivals has had some pretty good football games over the years. UNC has already clinched its place in the ACC title game. NC State is bowl eligible. Raleigh has been a tough place for higher ranked opponents as the Wolfpack seemingly play up to the level of competition. UNC needs A LOT of chaos to happen if they want to make it to the playoff. Look for NC State to play the role of spoiler and possibly come out with a home win.

UNC Prospects to watch:

Ryan Switzer WR 5’10 185 Junior

- The last name may sound familiar as Ryan is the grandson of legendary Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry. Switzer is purely a slot receiver and return man in the mold of a Wes Welker as he lacks ideal measurables for the NFL. He has several return touchdowns in his career. Has played both inside and outside receiver positions. It’s highly probable that he stays for his senior season.

Landon Turner OG 6’3 325 RS Senior

- A massive road grader type of guard who needs to refine the technical aspects of his game. Has a good base and lower body strength. Turner’s hand usage is subpar in that he relies too much on his strength. He could be the top senior guard off the board in 2016.

Marquise Williams 6'2 225 QB RS Senior

- Williams might be one of the more underrated quarterback prospects in the draft. He has above average arm strength and is a better athlete than people give him credit for. However, his injury history is a little scary. Inconsistency is an issue as well. Runs Larry Fedora's spread system to perfection.

NC State prospect to watch

Jacoby Brissett 6'4 240 QB Senior

- Think Cam Newton but a much more refined passer with Big Ben's athleticism and you get Brissett. He transferred in from Florida a couple of years ago after losing the competition there.

#22 UCLA at USC 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2

"The Battle for the Victory Bell" "The Battle for Los Angeles"

- The Bruins travel to their crosstown rival Trojans for the right to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference title game. UCLA is coming off a defensive struggle of a win over Utah last week while USC was dominated by Oregon. Much is riding on this game outside of conference implications as LA is very fertile recruiting ground which UCLA has taken over recently. USC is expected to be the biggest program looking for a head coach in the offseason. Interim HC Clay Helton has done an admirable job keeping the ship afloat. Expect UCLA HC Jim Mora to get a few calls about several vacancies. USC wins at home and secures a rematch with Stanford.

UCLA prospects to watch

Paul Perkins 5'11 210 RB RS Junior

- Perkins is probably the nation's most underrated back in the country due to the hype of the backs above him. He's a explosive athlete with very capable hands out of the backfield. Character is excellent as well.

Jordan Payton 6'1 212 WR Senior

- Payton has been the old standby for the Bruins for the past four years. He has great body control and some of the best hands in the country. Needs an excellent 2015 season to move up into the third round range.

Myles Jack 6’1 232 OLB/RB Junior

- A much better athlete than Shaq Thompson. Jack also played at running back in addition to his linebacker duties. He’s much more of a physical presence on defense than Thompson. He likely needs to move back a level into the secondary to safety to have a future in the NFL. Status: INJURED OUT for season and Declared for Draft

Eddie Vanderdoes 6’3 305 DL Junior

- Arik Armstead lite. He could have ended up being a better offensive tackle had he chosen that route. A 5 star recruit who is a big body run stuffer with little pass rush ability. Status: INJURED OUT for Season

Kenny Clark 6'2 310 DL Junior

- Clark has been the Bruins' best defender in 2015. He's played tackle, end, and some nose tackle for UCLA throughout his career. Position and scheme versatile. Possibly the most technically refined defensive lineman in the country. Knows when and how to use power/finesse in every move. Lateral agility is an issue, however. High running motor but that can be exploited against him when he's lost in the wash. Fires off the ball really well for a guy his size.

USC prospects to watch

Cody Kessler 6’1 215 QB RS Senior

- Kessler is the presumptive favorite for the 2015 Heisman as of this writing. He’s limited athletically as a prospect but is more of a game manager type. Pocket awareness is above average as well as footwork. Arm strength is a concern as he lacks it to make the big league throws to the outside. Needs a great finish to 2015 to even merit consideration in the fourth round. I'd have him borderline 7th/UDFA based on his production so far and what I've seen on tape.

Max Tuerk 6’6 285 OL Senior

- Tuerk makes observers harken back to the glory days of former Trojan linemen standouts. He’s been used at every lineman position but his best is at center and left tackle. Long arms and great hand usage. Base and footwork are very good. Intelligence is good as well. INJURED

Su’a Cravens 6’1 225 OLB Junior

- Cravens could be the best defender in the Pac-12. Position versatile as he originally started out at safety before converting to linebacker last year. Athleticism is very good as the hips are fluid and footwork is impressive. Instincts are great as well. Finds the hole in the offensive scheme and attacks it. Pass defense is underrated as he shows an uncanny ability to always find the ball.

#6 Notre Dame at #9 Stanford 7:30 PM Fox

- The Irish travel to Palo Alto in what could be the biggest game in terms of defining the playoff order this year. ND is coming off a poor winning effort against Boston College last week at Fenway. Stanford is coming off a good win over its annual rival, California. The Cardinal have already clinched the Pac-12 North and needs a win plus some serious chaos to make the playoffs. Notre Dame needs a win plus Oklahoma, Alabama, and Michigan State all losing at some point during the next two weeks. They really need to join a conference that has a title game.

Notre Dame prospects to watch

Ronnie Stanley 6’5 315 OT RS Junior

- Stanley could’ve been the first tackle off the board in the 2015 draft had he declared for early entry. He’s the best tackle in the country by far.

Nick Martin 6’3 320 G/C Senior

- Martin is the younger brother of current Cowboys lineman Zack. Nick might end up being a better pro prospect. Can play both guard and center but will likely end up as a guard at the next level.

KeiVarae Russell 5’11 190 CB Senior

- Russell is doing the Everett Golson aka returning from a year long academic misconduct suspension. He has the potential to be the best corner in the country. Revis Island like potential.

Sheldon Day 6’2 285 DT Senior

- Day is this year’s Grady Jarrett in that he can play all of the line positions without losing a step. A still raw prospect that has yet to fully utilize all of his talents. He flashed particularly well against Florida State last year.

Jaylon Smith 6’2 235 OLB Junior

- A tackling machine that could be considered as the best outside linebacker in the nation. The defensive general for the Irish. A smaller Von Miller if you will.

Stanford prospect to watch

Kevin Hogan 6'4 225 QB RS Senior

- Hogan possesses an above average arm that will get him places in the NFL but needs to work on becoming more consistently accurate. He has some ability to land those critical "touch" passes and has really improved in that area so far this year outside of the opener where he was horrendous all around. A better athlete than most will give him credit for. Pocket awareness isn't as ideal since he hasn't had to deal with a "busy" pocket since the Stanford OL has been good so far. At this point in the year, Hogan is my third best quarterback on the board in a very weak class. Needs to show out during the offseason draft circuit to sneak into the early rounds.