Test day for NFL hopeful QBs

NFL Buffalo

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 16: Mason Rudolph #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrates after a touchdown by Dillon Stoner #17 (not pictured) during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on September 16, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Each weekend, we’ll tell you where and when to watch the top college QBs expected to be available for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Lamar Jackson, (19)Louisville vs. Kent State Noon ACC Network (which likely means online only)

Jackson needs a breather after crashing to Earth last week against Clemson. All they have to do is follow the example of their guests Saturday. 

Kent State opened the season getting whitewashed by Clemson 56-3 and followed with their only win so far: a 38-31 home triumph over FCS Howard.

The Golden Flashes lost last week 21-0 to Marshall, so they have all of three points against FBS teams this year. That means even the woeful Cardinals defense can keep Kent State in check and Jackson likely will be chilling on the sideline before the fourth quarter begins. 

This is the only gimme on the top QB schedule this week and if it’s anything more than shooting skeet for three quarters, it’s a disappointment. 

Sam Darnold, (5)USC at Cal 3:30pm ABC

Both teams are 3-0, but hardly look invincible. Cal has non-conference wins at North Carolina and home for Ole Miss with a less than impressive win over Weber State in between. 

USC handled Stanford, but struggled against unranked Western Michigan and Texas. Darnold made enough plays to win both, but also made enough mistakes to make scouts wonder about his #1 overall status. 

Cal’s first year head coach Justin Wilcox was the USC defensive coordinator in 2014 and 15, but says that won’t give him any advantages. 

Wilcox’s expertise may have Cal 3-0 for the first time in six seasons, but they aren’t much better on defense. The Bears are 114th of 129 teams in total D. 

USC is dealing with four injuries on defense themselves, so Darnold may need to play like a star to keep the Trojans unbeaten. 

Mason Rudolph, (6)Oklahoma State vs. (16)TCU 3:30pm ESPN

The only criticism of Rudolph’s first three games is the quality of competition. That won’t be true this week. 

TCU’s three wins aren’t against anyone special either, but they are unbeaten and a top 20 team. It’s a much more legit test than Tulsa, South Alabama and Pitt. 

The Horned Frogs got whooped 31-6 by the Cowboys last year, but quarterback Kenny Hill is much improved and the offense is much better around him. 

Can TCU survive a shootout with Rudolph and his cast of stars? Probably not, but Rudolph will likely need to play the fourth quarter for the first time all season to prove it. 

Josh Rosen, UCLA at Stanford 10:30pm ESPN

UCLA has the better record at 2-1, but not the better team, at least on paper. 

Stanford is 1-2 after losses to USC and a stunner at San Diego State last week. They’re favored by seven and likely out for blood. 

As Darnold found out two weeks ago, the Cardinal secondary is loaded with NFL talent and would love nothing more than Rosen’s scalp on their wall. 

UCLA lost to Stanford on a touchdown with 24 seconds left last year, giving the Bruins their own bonus motivation. This might also be the best defense Rosen faces all season. 

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