Get the chores done early, make sure the pizza is ordered and your favorite beverages are ice cold because Week 6 in college football has a ton of intriguing games from coast-to-coast that are worth tuning in for. As great as some of the matchups are this week though, they might not hold a candle to the games within a game — between players on either side of the ball.
Whether you’re a college football fan, a coach or an NFL scout, here are 10 of the best position vs. position battles of the bunch between offensive stars and their defensive counterparts on the other side:
1. Miami WRs Ahmmon Richards and Braxton Berrios vs. Florida State DBs Derwin James and Tarvarus McFadden
Is this finally the season the Hurricanes can stop their in-state rivals’ streak and come up with a breakthrough win? While much of the focus will be on UM’s new QB Malik Rosier, keep in mind he has two of the best ACC wideouts at his disposal in big-play machine Richards and the elusive Berrios. The flip side for FSU is the Seminole have the best defensive back combination in the country ready to lock down their Sunshine State counterparts. Game on in Tallahassee.
2. Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk vs. Alabama DBs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison
Nick Saban called the Aggies the most talented team he’s faced this year. While that’s not true in the least, the best player he will see very well might be Kirk. The all-purpose weapon is a threat to take one back as both a receiver and on returns, so he’ll be shadowed by one of the best safety tandems in the country that prevent the big play on that loaded Alabama defense.
3. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson vs. NC State DL Bradley Chubb, Kentavius Street. Justin Jones and B.J. Hill
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner isn’t getting as much publicity as he was last season but make no mistake, he’s still the most dangerous player in the country. If the Wolfpack are to have any hope of slowing down the elusive dual threat and keeping their division hopes alive on Thursday, it will all come down to their talented defensive line corralling and pressuring Jackson.
4. West Virginia QB Will Grier, WRs David Sills, Ka’Raun White and Gary Jennings vs. TCU DBs Ranthony Texada, Niko Small, Nick Orr and Ridwan Issahaku
The Big 12 game of the week doubles as one of the best around the country as Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid comes to Fort Worth to face Gary Patterson’s stingy defense. While the Mountaineers boast a quality quarterback and one of the deepest receiving corps in the league, they’ll be tested plenty by the most experienced secondary West of the Mississippi and a group that will trick you into making mistakes on every snap.
5. Utah DL Lowell Lotulelei, LB Kavika Luafatasaga and DB Chase Hansen vs. Stanford RB Bryce Love
Cardinal running back Bryce Love is shooting up everybody’s Heisman list and it’s not hard to see why considering he’s leading the country in rushing at a pace not seen in 20 years. While he’s already faced some solid defenses, it’s a point of pride in Salt Lake City to stop the run and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has the track record to back it up. The Utes will need to have sure tacklers at every single level on Saturday night if they stand any chance in slowing the terrific tailback from the Farm however.
6. LSU LBs Arden Key and Donnie Alexander vs. Florida QB Feleipe Franks and Lamichal Perine
LSU has taken its lumps the past few weeks but the one thing that could help turn around the Tigers’ season is going into Gainesville and pulling out a victory over their SEC rivals. Key and Alexander will play a pivotal role in shutting down the Gators’ offense and forcing turnovers to give LSU’s own offense a short field, which just might be enough in this closely contested series.
7. Northwestern RB Justin Jackson and APB Garrett Dickerson vs. Penn State LB Jason Cabinda and DB Marcus Allen
While Saquon Barkley is the Big Ten running back who gets all the hype, it was Jackson who actually led the conference in rushing a year ago and will present a dangerous test for the Nittany Lions on Saturday. He’s not the only threat to keep an eye out for with the Wildcats though, as Dickerson can score from all over the field to present quite the challenge for a pair of sure tacklers on Penn State’s defense.
8. Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond, RBs Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford vs. Alabama DL Da’Ron Payne, LBs Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans
It hasn’t been easy to get to this point but Texas A&M is 4-1 behind their triumvirate of Mond, Williams and Ford running the football and doing just what they can to get an Aggie victory. Things will be much different when the Crimson Tide come to town however, as their front seven is just as stout as ever and have the No. 2 rush defense in the country.
9. Miami LB Shaq Quarterman vs. Florida State RBs Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers
With James Blackman still figuring out things at quarterback for the Seminoles, it’s not surprising to think the team will be leaning on their one-two punch at running back for some offense this weekend. Looking to fill every running lane and put the game back on the quarterback’s arm is one of the best linebackers in the game with the athletic Quarterman filling every gap he needs to.
10. Colorado State QB Nick Stevens and Michael Gallup vs. Utah State DBs Jalen Davis and Dallin Leavitt
Stevens has thrown for more than 300 yards in every game except one (at Alabama, to be fair) this season and hooked up with one of the league’s best receivers in Gallup last game to the tune of 212 yards and a touchdown. Things figure to be a lot more difficult in a key Mountain West battle against one of the better secondary tandems out west. Davis alone hauled in three interceptions (and two pick-sixes) in a big upset of BYU and is looking especially dangerous to throw on.
Best of the Rest
*Florida State LB Matthew Thomas vs. Miami RB Mark Walton
*Pitt DB Jordan Whitehead vs. Syracuse QB Eric Dungey
*Florida State DB Trey Marshall vs. Miami TE Christopher Herndon
*Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson vs. Boston College DL Harold Landry
*Miami OL K.C. McDermott vs. Florida State DL Brian Burns and Josh Sweat
*North Carolina OL Bentley Spain vs. Notre Dame DL Daelin Hayes
*Louisville DB Chucky Williams vs. N.C. State APB Jaylen Samuels
*Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz, WR Byron Pringle and RB Alex Barnes vs. Texas DL Poona Ford, LB Malik Jefferson and DB DeShon Elliott
*TCU QB Kenny Hill and WRs KaVontae Turpin vs. West Virginia DBs Kyzir White and Dravon Henry-Askew
*Iowa State WR Allen Lazard vs. Oklahoma DBs Jordan Thomas and Will Johnson
*Iowa State RB David Montgomery vs. Oklahoma LBs Kenneth Murray, Caleb Kelly and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
*Nebraska WR De’Mornay Pierson-El vs. Wisconsin DB D’Cota Dixon
*Northwestern DB Godwin Igwebuike vs. Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton and TE Mike Gesicki
*Maryland RB Ty Johnson vs. Ohio State DL Tracy Sprinkle, Jalyn Holmes and LB Chris Worley
*Michigan State RBs L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London vs. Michigan LB Mike McCray, DL Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary
*Utah WR Darren Carrington vs. Stanford DB Alijah Holder
*Stanford DL Harrison Phillips and LB Peter Kalambayi vs. Utah OL Lo Falemaka and RB Zack Moss
*Cal QB Ross Bowers and RB Vic Enwere vs. Washington DB Taylor Rapp and LB Azeem Victor
*Alabama QB Jalen Hurts and WR Calvin Ridley vs. Texas A&M DBs Armani Watts and Priest Willis
*Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson and OT Greg Little vs. Auburn DL Marlon Davidson and DB Tray Matthews
*LSU RB Derrius Guice and OL Will Clapp vs. Florida LB Vosean Joseph and DL Khairi Clark and Taven Bryan
*Vanderbilt RB Ralph Webb vs. Georgia LBs Natrez Patrick and Roquan Smith
*Vanderbilt LB Oren Burks vs. Georgia RBs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb
*Arkansas RB Devwah Whaley vs. South Carolina LB Skai Moore
*LSU WR D.J. Chark vs. Florida DB Duke Dawson
Group of 5
*Boise State TE Jake Roh and RB Alexander Mattison vs. BYU LBs Fred Warner and Butch Pau’u
*BYU OL Tejan Koroma vs. Boise State DL David Moa
*Houston DB Garrett Davis vs. SMU QB Ben Hicks
*Navy LBs D.J. Palmore and Micah Thomas vs. Air Force QB Arion Worthman and RB Timothy McVey
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.