Mel's Matchups: Week 1

There are always intriguing player matchups to look for in college football. Often times players who will meet in the NFL first line up across from one another on the college level. Let's take a look at some of the big individual matchups I'll be keeping an eye on from this week's slate of college games:

Minnesota at Syracuse Sat., Sept. 5 Noon ET (ESPN2, ESPN360.com)

Traye Simmons versus Mike Williams:

Minnesota's best defensive player is senior cornerback Traye Simmons and he'll be matched up with junior wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams has tons of physical and athletic ability with prototypical size. Keep an eye on this battle.

Also in this game we'll see some other players with NFL potential. Look for Minnesota senior wide receiver Eric Decker (2008 stats: 84 catches, 1074 yards, 7 touchdowns). He has a chance to be a first- or second-round draft choice. On the other side of the ball, keep an eye on Syracuse's defensive tackle Arthur Jones. He had a dominant game against Notre Dame last year but was up-and-down the rest of the year. He'll have to play a lot more games the way he did against the Irish if he wants to fulfill his hopes of being a high draft choice; otherwise, his stock will drop.

For more matchups from Mel, including a showdown at Michigan, a test for the Irish and senior line battle in Los Angeles, you must be an ESPN Insider.Insider