10 One-on-One Matchups to Watch in Week 15

Sebastian LenaAnalyst IDecember 5, 2013

10 One-on-One Matchups to Watch in Week 15

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    Will Benjamin (1) be able to propel the Seminoles into the BCS title game?
    Will Benjamin (1) be able to propel the Seminoles into the BCS title game?Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    As college football’s conference championship weekend approaches, there should be several one-on-one battles that are just too close to call.

    In the Big Ten title game, two of the top running backs in the nation will go head-to-head against two elite run defenses. Meanwhile, the SEC title game features two dual-threat quarterbacks that will have their hands tied up with a pair of lethal pass-rushers.

    These are just a couple of the matchups that will have fans on the edge of their seats.

    Join B/R as we take a look at 10 of the battles we should all watch.

QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) vs. DL Silverberry Mouhon (Cincinnati)

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    Can Bridgewater help the Cardinals tame the Bearcats?
    Can Bridgewater help the Cardinals tame the Bearcats?Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 19 Louisville (10-1) at Cincinnati (9-2), Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

     

    The Skinny

    Even though he may be going through a minor slump of sorts, the Cardinals’ Teddy Bridgewater is still one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

    Through 11 games, the junior has thrown for 3,268 yards, 25 touchdowns and three interceptions on 71.0 percent passing. Furthermore, he’s tossed for 250 yards or more in all but three contests this season.

    Cincinnati defensive lineman Silverberry Mouhon might have a thing or two to say about that.

    Thus far, the sophomore has recorded 32 tackles (9.0 for loss), 8.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. He’s a large reason the Bearcats rank No. 22 in the nation in sacks.

    Not to mention, Mouhon does the groundwork that has helped the team’s secondary rank No. 24 against the pass (210.8 YPG). Cincinnati has only allowed 12 passing touchdowns all year on just 57.6 percent passing.

    If Louisville has any hope of earning a share of the conference title, Bridgewater must be able to get past Mouhon and the Bearcats defense.

QB Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois) vs. Bowling Green Secondary

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    Lynch must prove he can throw.
    Lynch must prove he can throw.Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: Bowling Green (9-3) vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois (12-0), Dec. 6, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2

     

    The Skinny

    There’s no doubt that Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch is dominating on the ground.

    The question is: Can he throw?

    Through 12 games, the senior has thrown for 2,457 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions on 64.4 percent passing, but he’s only tossed for multiple scores in a game just six times this season.

    Lynch was especially exposed in Northern Illinois’ win over Western Michigan, 33-14, last week. He was just 5-of-17 for 39 yards.

    Against the secondary of the Falcons, things could get tough for Lynch.

    Thus far, the unit ranks No. 4 in the nation against the pass (161.8 YPG). Bowling Green has allowed just 10 passing touchdowns all year, conceded a meager 5.4 yards per attempt and held opposing quarterbacks to a completion rate of 55.0 percent.

    If Lynch wants to lead the Huskies to a MAC title and BCS bowl, he needs to get it together.

RB Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) vs. DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas)

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    Jeffcoat (left) has been disruptive in the backfield all season long.
    Jeffcoat (left) has been disruptive in the backfield all season long.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 25 Texas (8-3) at No. 9 Baylor (10-1), Dec. 7, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX

     

    The Skinny

    The Bears will hope running back Lache Seastrunk can put an end to the team’s recent struggles.

    In nine games this year, the junior has rushed for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns on 126 carries. He’s topped 90 yards or more in all but two games; however, in one of the two contests Seastrunk missed, Baylor dropped its first game of the season—a 49-17 loss to Oklahoma State on Nov. 23.

    Longhorns defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat will try and ensure that his presence is felt as little as possible.

    Entering Week 15, the senior has tallied 65 tackles (16.0 for loss), 10.0 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass. Not to mention, Jeffcoat is coming off a 10-tackle, 3.0-sack performance just last week against Texas Tech.

    Given Texas’ struggles in stopping the run—No. 78 in the nation—Jeffcoat will need to prevent Seastrunk from finding the holes to take advantage of the vulnerabilities.

    Who will get the upper hand?

RB Tyler Gaffney (Stanford) vs. DE Carl Bradford (Arizona State)

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    Gaffney (center) makes it look easy.
    Gaffney (center) makes it look easy.Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 7 Stanford (10-2) at No. 11 Arizona State (10-2), Dec. 7, 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

     

    The Skinny

    The one constant in what has been an up-and-down season for the Cardinal has been running back Tyler Gaffney.

    Through 12 games, the senior has rushed for 1,485 yards and 17 touchdowns on 284 carries. He’s topped the century mark in six of the last seven games while finding the end zone in all but one contest.

    Defensive end Carl Bradford is sure to make his life difficult on Saturday.

    Entering Week 15, the junior has recorded 49 tackles (16.0 for loss), 7.5 sacks, forced three fumbles and returned his only interception for a touchdown. Furthermore, he’s recorded a sack in all but four games this season.

    Bradford is a large reason for the Sun Devils’ strength against the run. The team ranks No. 27 in the nation (133.8 YPG) while conceding just 3.83 yards per carry.

    It will definitely be a matchup to watch on Saturday.

RB Brennan Clay (Oklahoma) vs. LB Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State)

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    Lavey has been instrumental to the Cowboys defense in 2013.
    Lavey has been instrumental to the Cowboys defense in 2013.Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 17 Oklahoma at No. 6 Oklahoma State, Dec. 7, 12 p.m. ET ABC

     

    The Skinny

    With Damien Williams dismissed from the team, running back Brennan Clay will take center stage.

    Thus far, the senior has rushed for 843 yards and six touchdowns on 134 carries. He dominated in his first appearance as the feature back against Kansas State on Nov. 23, rushing for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

    Cowboys linebacker Caleb Lavey will try and make sure things are a little more difficult on Saturday.

    Thus far, the senior has shown off his versatility, recording 82 tackles (11.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, forcing two fumbles and intercepting four passes. He’ll be a key factor in slowing down a Sooners rushing attack that has been rolling as of late.

    Backed by Lavey’s play, Oklahoma State ranks No. 21 against the run (130.0 YPG). The team has given up just eight rushing touchdowns while conceding only 3.4 yards per carry.

    Can Clay break through?

QB James Franklin (Missouri) vs. DE Dee Ford (Auburn)

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    Franklin (right) has kept defenders on their toes all season long.
    Franklin (right) has kept defenders on their toes all season long.Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 5 Missouri (11-1) vs. No. 3 Auburn (11-1), Dec. 7, 4 p.m. ET on CBS

     

    The Skinny

    With quarterback James Franklin under center, Missouri feels as if it can’t lose.

    In eight starts, the senior has thrown for 1,952 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions on 66.9 percent passing. He’s also added another 412 yards and three scores on 91 carries.

    So it comes as no surprise that Missouri is 8-0 with Franklin in the lineup.

    Auburn defensive end Dee Ford will like to change that.

    Entering Week 15, the senior has recorded 23 tackles (12.0 for loss), eight sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and forced two fumbles in 10 games. He’s been a vital part of an Auburn defense that has bent but doesn’t break in 2013.

    Given that the team ranks No. 100 against the pass (255.7 YPG), Auburn will have to rely on Ford’s ability to push Franklin out of the pocket.

    Otherwise, it could be another field day for Missouri’s quarterback.

QB Nick Marshall (Auburn) vs. DL Michael Sam (Missouri)

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    Can anyone stop Marshall (right)?
    Can anyone stop Marshall (right)?John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 5 Missouri (11-1) vs. No. 3 Auburn (11-1), Dec. 7, 4 p.m. ET on CBS

     

    The Skinny

    Auburn will have its hands full against Missouri as it tries to secure an improbable SEC title and possible berth into the BCS title game.

    Getting quarterback Nick Marshall to click could be the key.

    Entering Week 15, the junior has thrown for 1,627 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions on 59.2 percent passing, but his biggest impact has been on the ground, adding another 922 yards and 10 scores on 140 carries.

    In fact, throughout the last three games, Marshall has rushed for a ridiculous 402 yards and five touchdowns.

    Expect Missouri to look to defensive lineman Michael Sam to shut him down.

    This year, the senior has recorded 42 tackles (18.0 for loss), 10.5 sacks, forced a fumble and returned a fumble for a touchdown. More impressively, he has already tallied three sacks in a game three times this season.

    Behind his play, Missouri has ranked No. 14 against the run (119.1 YPG). The team has allowed just 15 touchdowns on the ground while conceding a meager 3.13 yards per carry.

    Given that Missouri is vulnerable to the pass—No. 112 in the nation—Sam’s ability to get to the quarterback will be key on Saturday.

RB Jeremy Langford (Michigan State) vs. LB Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)

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    Shazier has been a force for the Buckeyes in run defense.
    Shazier has been a force for the Buckeyes in run defense.Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 10 Michigan State (11-1), Dec. 7, 8:17 p.m. ET on FOX

     

    The Skinny

    Running back Jeremy Langford has put the Spartans offense on his back.

    Through 12 games, the junior has rushed for 1,210 yards and 16 touchdowns on 245 carries. Furthermore, he has topped the century mark in seven consecutive games while finding the end zone 12 times in that span.

    On Saturday, Langford will have his hands full with Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier.

    Thus far, the junior has recorded 123 tackles (22.0 for loss) and seven sacks and forced four fumbles. He has been a pest in the backfield and has been instrumental to an Ohio State run defense that ranks No. 5 in the nation (100.0 YPG). 

    Langford will have to be at the top of his game to get past Shazier and a defensive unit that has only allowed seven touchdowns on the ground and concedes a meager 3.02 yards per carry.

RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio State) vs. DE Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State)

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    Hyde (right) will face one of the nation's toughest run defenses on Saturday.
    Hyde (right) will face one of the nation's toughest run defenses on Saturday.Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 10 Michigan State (11-1), Dec. 7, 8:17 p.m. ET on FOX

     

    The Skinny

    The Buckeyes most likely would not be in the place they are without running back Carlos Hyde.

    In nine games since returning from suspension, the senior has played with a vengeance, racking up 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns on 165 carries. Furthermore, he has topped 100 yards in seven consecutive games and 225 yards in two of the last three.

    No matter how deep a hole Ohio State found itself in, Hyde was right there to pull the team out.

    Defensive end Shilique Calhoun and the Spartans run defense will provide Hyde with his toughest challenge yet.

    Thus far, Calhoun has recorded 32 tackles (13.5 for loss), seven sacks and 17 quarterback hurries and forced two fumbles. He’s even returned his lone interception back 56 yards for six.

    Calhoun was especially dominant in a win over Michigan, 29-6, on Nov. 2, tallying six tackles (three for loss) and 2.5 sacks. Michigan State held the Wolverines to a school-low negative 48 rushing yards.

    On the year, the team ranks No. 1 against the run (64.8 YPG). The Spartans have allowed just five rushing touchdowns and concede 2.23 yards per carry.

    This will be a tough outing for both parties.

WR Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) vs. S Jeremy Cash (Duke)

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    Cash (right) has made some pretty big plays in 2013.
    Cash (right) has made some pretty big plays in 2013.Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 15 Matchup: No. 20 Duke (10-2) vs. No. 1 Florida State (12-0), Dec. 7, 8 p.m. ET on ABC

     

    The Skinny

    With a team full of weapons, the Seminoles had a coming out party for yet another one last weekend: wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

    Against Florida’s vaunted secondary, the sophomore exploited the defensive backs. He hauled in nine passes for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns.

    On the season, Benjamin has caught 45 balls for 838 yards and 12 scores.

    This weekend, Blue Devils safety Jeremy Cash will try and put a lid on Benjamin’s success.

    Through 12 games, the sophomore has recorded 109 tackles (7.5 for loss), broken up four passes and tallied four interceptions. Cash has also displayed his hard-hitting ability, forcing two fumbles this year.

    His play will be essential in helping a Duke secondary that has given up 18 touchdown passes this year.

    Stopping Benjamin is just the first step.