Tensions rise as college football regular season draws to a close
We are nearing the end of the 2023 college football regular season with a lot still at stake when it comes to the College Football Playoff. Even though this week doesn’t bring a ton of firepower, the added tensions still exist.
The week features four top-25 matchups with additional eyes on the PAC-12, and that’s where the week begins.
Twenty-second-ranked Utah heads to No. 17 Arizona for what should be a hotly contested PAC-12 matchup out west. Either team’s chances of making the PAC-12 championship game don’t look good. But there are bowl implications and the game as a whole is intriguing as Utah has pieced together a 7-3 campaign while the Wildcats continue to rack up wins thanks to contributions from both sides of the football at different points in the season.
There’s a chance that newly ranked No. 1 Georgia will get a road test this week when it travels to No. 18 Tennessee. Georgia seems to be firing on all cylinders at the right time, with its offense getting players healthy again. The Bulldogs once again look like a buzzsaw with the Vols reeling after a blowout loss to Missouri a week ago.
The primetime slate features a Sunflower Showdown match between No. 21 Kansas State and No. 25 Kansas. It’s not every day you see these two ranked at the same time, but that’s exactly the situation we see here. Kansas State has bounced back after starting the year at 3-2, while Kansas had to piece together a quarterback revolving door with star Jalon Daniels going down with a back issue earlier this season.
We’re going to spoil the game of the week early here due to the obvious primetime matchup – #5 Washington will travel to #11. Oregon State like an outsider on the road to the Beavers. The Huskies remain undefeated in 2023 at 10-0. While it’s not an impossible race, a loss in this game would seriously muddy the path to the College Football Playoff. Washington has struggled on defense in recent weeks, but its passing game remains an elite unit. This should be a fun game to watch on Saturday night.
With the ranked matchups set, let’s discuss some prospects ready to battle it out in Week 12.
North Carolina QB Drake Maye and WR Tez Walker vs. Clemson CB Nate Wiggins
One of the best players in the country is North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye. Maye is a legitimate candidate to be ranked first overall in 2024. NFL Draft. Maye can make any throw on the field with added athleticism to do the unthinkable. Maye will face one of the best defenses in college football with many ACC prospects on the line.
Maye was joined by his favorite target, Tez Walker, after his initial waiver waiver for his second transfer. An appeal finally allowed Walker to play after missing four games. Walker has now proven himself as one of the best receivers in the country – a silky smooth player measuring 6’3″, 200 pounds. Walker has 600 yards and six touchdowns in six games.
His matchup in this one will most likely be Clemson star cornerback Nate Wiggins. Wiggins did well with another big body in State of FloridaKeon Coleman earlier this season. He now has another showcase opportunity against Walker. Wiggins has tape in the first round and will likely be one of the top corners on the board.
While Wiggins already has a ton of tape to back up his draft status, this is a stellar opportunity for Maye and Walker against an elite defense.
Notre Dame OT Joe Alt vs. Wake Forest EDGE Jasheen Davis
Irish left tackle Joe Alt has a strong case to be considered the second-best offensive tackle in college football behind Penn State star Olu Fashanu. Alt has a beautifully refined technical game for the position and has only improved in 2023 with balance and overall dominance.
He’s going up against one of the most underrated passers in the country, Wake’s Jasheen Davis. The 6’3″, 260 pounder packs a punch. He’ll line up on both sides of the lines of scrimmage, so pure reps against Alt will be important in this matchup. He’s not overly wiry, but the high motor power and the power in his hands appears prominently in his film.
We’ll see if Davis can make a dent in Alt. If he is able to put together effective reps, that could be a feather in his cap for his draft stock. For Alt, we’re just looking to see if this is the normal status quo of dominance this week.
Game of the week
#5 Washington @ #11 Oregon State
7:30 p.m. EST
We discussed this match above, but it’s the only match this week that you’ll probably want to sit down for. The Huskies are road underdogs as an undefeated team – something you’ll rarely see. Washington has a lot to prove on the defensive side of the ball, while the Beavers are disjointed. Oregon State doesn’t have a ton of recognizable names, but they have a bad offensive line and they’ll want to run the football to condense the play.
Washington has one of the best passing attacks in the country behind the arm of signal-caller Michael Penix. He’s joined by the nation’s best pass-catching trio in receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk. McMillan has been hit all year, but that hasn’t been a problem for Penix.
Oregon State left tackle Taliese Fuaga is their star player. He has a chance to be a first-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft. He is the primary COG of a dominant run-blocking unit up front.
Washington’s ability to pass the ball at a high level and the Beavers’ superpower in running the football over a weakened Washington defense display a fascinating mesh of strengths for both teams.