The majority of football fans will no doubt be glued to tonight's NFL opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, but for those of you more interested in college football or scouting for the NFL, there are two college football games on tonight, as well.
Central Michigan at Temple (7 pm EST on ESPNU) is an interesting cross-conference matchup, but the one I'll definitely be focusing on is the SEC showdown between Auburn and Mississippi State.
The Tigers and Bulldogs are two of the chique picks to surprise some people this year in the SEC and it isn't difficult to understand why.
For one, Auburn and Mississippi State won by a combined margin of 101-33 over Arkansas State and Memphis, respectively, last weekend.
More importantly, both rosters are (perhaps surprisingly) full of NFL prospects.
Auburn is historically one of the SEC's top producers of NFL talent, but some might be surprised to learn the Mississippi State actually boasts the more intriguing lineup -- at least among seniors.
Here are the prospects I'll be focusing on in this game:
OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State: Might be the best pass-blocking left tackle in the SEC and that is saying something, as the conference is loaded with talented senior offensive linemen. I rated Sherrod as the 4th best senior prospect in the SEC conference, regardless of position entering the year. He could be the first Bulldog drafted in the first round since 1994.
DE Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State: If Sherrod doesn't make the first round, McPhee might. The highly touted JUCO prospect burst onto the scene last year with 56 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, earning himself All-SEC honors from the conference coaches. McPhee posted a combined 33 sacks over his two seasons at Itawamba JC (Miss)...
OLB K.J. Wright, Mississippi State: An unsung playmaker on this defense, Wright has been one of the more consistent defenders in the SEC over the past two seasons, averaging 77 tackles and 7 tackles for loss each year. He was recognized this summer with preseason All-SEC honors from the league coaches, but he isn't getting the national attention he deserves... yet.
RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I've lised Fannin in the past as a player I feel can enjoy a breakout senior campaign this year. Former Auburn star Ben Tate certainly catapulted up NFL boards with a fantastic senior season and I see the same thing as possible for the versatile and athletic Fannin. He's shown flashes throughout his career, but struggles with fumbles early and injuries late have hampered his progress. At 5-11, 227 pounds he might be the nation's best pass-receiver among the running backs, as his 4 receptions for 65 yards and 2 TDs in the opener against Arkansas State helped prove. He is already Auburn's career leader in receptions for a running back.
OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn: Admittedly, I'm not as high on Ziemba (pronounced Zim-bah) as others may be, but there is no denying his production. Having started 39 games already over his career, Ziemba has earned all-conference recognition from coaches after each of his first three seasons. He's the Tigers' starting left tackle, but might be best served moving back to the right side (where he played as a freshman) or perhaps even moving inside to guard (where he's never played) in the NFL.