5 Best 1-on-1 Matchups to Look Forward to in 2014 College Football Season
The grueling stretch of the offseason is officially here, which means all anyone can do is pine for Aug. 27, when the 2014 season gets underway.
In the meantime, it's time to examine which one-on-one matchups to look forward to when the season does start. From wide receivers and cornerbacks to quarterbacks and linebackers and everything in between, there will be plenty of star power on the field in 2014.
Which matchups should catch the most attention?
Auburn QB Nick Marshall vs. Arkansas DE Trey Flowers
When: Aug. 30
In a way, the matchup between Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall and Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers is bigger than both players.
It's really about Auburn vs. Arkansas, head coaches Gus Malzahn and Bret Bielema, and the style contrast between hurry-up, no-huddle and grind-it-out teams.
For the sake of picking two players, let's go with Marshall and Flowers.
Can the Razorbacks keep up with Auburn's fast-paced offense? Last year, the Tigers ran a pedestrian 55 plays in a 35-17 win, but racked up 233 rushing yards.
Will Marshall be a major threat for Auburn in this year's game? It could depend on Flowers and how he reads Marshall's decisions. Flowers had 13.5 tackles for loss with 5.0 sacks a year ago.
Flowers has beefed up from last year, too. Bielema told reporters in March that Flowers is up over 280 pounds.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston vs. Clemson DE Vic Beasley
When: Sept. 20
Clemson and Florida State have staged some close and/or exciting games in recent years. The 2013 edition of the game, a 51-14 win for the Seminoles, wasn't one of them.
For that matter, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley was practically a non-factor in that loss with two tackles.
Overall, however, Beasley had an excellent year and was an All-American selection.
Can Beasley make a bigger impact in this year's game against the 'Noles? Last season, the Florida State quarterback threw for 444 yards in the rout.
Baylor WR Antwan Goodley vs. TCU CB Kevin White
When: Oct. 11
Baylor wide receiver Antwan Goodley was one of the most potent receivers in the Big 12—and in the country—last season. But, quick, which team held Goodley to just one reception for 12 yards in 2013?
That would be TCU.
Quietly, former Frogs corner Jason Verrett took Goodley almost completely out of the game. Heading into Nov. 30 matchup, Goodley was averaging 119 receiving yards per game and 20.5 yards per catch.
Not surprisingly, Verrett should be among the first corners taken in this weekend's draft. However, another Frogs corner, Kevin White, isn't too bad either. White finished second on the team in interceptions (three) and pass break-ups (eight) last year.
Undoubtedly, White will draw the responsibility of covering Goodley this year.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota vs. UCLA LB Myles Jack
When: Oct. 11
It wouldn't be surprising at all to see Oregon and UCLA undefeated and ranked in the Top 10 nationally when they meet on Oct. 11 in Los Angeles.
Sophomore Myles Jack may contribute at running back for the Bruins, but his true home is at linebacker and he could earn All-American status. His job will be slowing down Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. In a 42-14 loss to the Ducks a year ago, Jack had four tackles, one of which went for a loss.
Will he be able to post bigger numbers or deliver that momentum-changing interception or sack against Oregon this year?
Michigan State C Jack Allen vs. Ohio State DT Michael Bennett
When: Nov. 8
Ah, yes. Some good old-fashioned in-the-trenches matchups.
The Big Ten East Division title could come down to an early-November game between Michigan State and Ohio State. Last season, the Spartans had perhaps the nastiest defensive line in the country. This year, that could be said about Ohio State.
Leading the Buckeyes along the experienced D-line will be senior defensive tackle Michael Bennett, who was second on the team a year ago in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (seven).
Working the interior of the Spartans' offensive line will be junior center Jack Allen, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media. Allen will be one of the keys to protecting quarterback Connor Cook.
Once again, Michigan State and Ohio State could play a tough, low-scoring game.
Which O-line will be able to protect its quarterback better?
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats reflect university calculated numbers.