It’s make or break time for the 2022 college football season. A pair of potential College Football Playoff defining games are on tap along with a couple other ranked matchups we should keep our eye on in Week 11. Let’s talk about the four ranked matchups of the week and what we need to know about each.
The first ranked matchup of the slate is No. 9 Alabama traveling to Oxford for a battle with No. 11 Ole Miss. Alabama’s playoff hopes are on life support after a heartbreaking loss to LSU in overtime a week ago. There are some questions floating in the ether about this Alabama team’s quit potential and just how energized Nick Saban is at this point in his career.
No. 22 UCF travels to No. 17 Tulane for a battle of the best group of five program in 2022. Ranked games between group of five opponents are few and far between. But this battle has plenty of intrigue with one program hoping to make a New Year’s Six bowl.
A Big 12 battle is brewing between No. 4 TCU and No. 18 Texas as the Horned Frogs hope to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive in Austin. TCU will likely have to win out this season if there is to be a Big 12 representative in the CFP. Both teams have a fair amount of NFL Draft prospects on both side of the ball—more on that later.
The upset-minded No. 25 Washington Huskies are looking to dash No. 6 Oregon’s playoff hopes in Eugene this weekend. Oregon quarterback Bo Nix has been one of the best stories of the entire college football season. Largely a written off commodity, many laughed off Nix transferring from Auburn this past offseason. But Nix has been the one laughing all season long.
Let’s discuss a few of our favorite prospect matchups for the weekend.
Size Clash — 6’4”, 215-pound WR Quentin Johnston (TCU) vs. 5’9”, 190-pound CB D’Shawn Jamison (Texas)
Johnston was not able to finish the game last week due to rolling an ankle that had already been injured. By all accounts, that was not a serious injury and he was held out of the game out of precaution. He gets an opportunity to get after it on a national stage. Johnston has been a big riser after a slow start to his 2022 campaign.
Jamison is one of Texas’s best players. He’s not a perfect prospect by any means, but he has a lot of athletic tools that allow him to succeed and compete on the outside. How Jamison handles the size and physicality of Johnston will be something to watch as Jamison should certainly draw the big-bodied talent on a multitude of reps. We can’t possibly forget one of the most ridiculous interceptions in the history of the sport.
Yes, DB youth can be frustrating. But when Texas coaches talk about the athleticism on the back end, this is what they're talking about. pic.twitter.com/lb9XahS93x— Brian Davis (@BDavisUT) October 5, 2019
LT Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse) vs. EDGE Jared Verse (Florida State)
If you’ve been following along weekly with this series in 2022, you’ve probably noticed that Bergeron has been a staple for his matchups. Bergeron has lived up to many of his tests this season including a battle with Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy. Bergeron will have an opportunity to play against another uber-talented edge rusher on Saturday night.
Verse has been battling through a mid-season injury that forced a brace onto his knee and ultimately limited the amount of impact he was having with his first-step quickness. If Verse is fully healthy, his first step is as good as anyone in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Bergeron will have to deal with the hair-on-fire nature of Verse all night in the Dome.
WR Charlie Jones (Purdue) vs. CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
Two very unfamiliar names before the college football season should now be amongst the “who’s who” of NFL Draft prospects. First, the ascension of Charlie Jones since his transfer from Iowa has been one of the more marvelous individual stories in the sport. Jones, in all likelihood, will surpass the 1,000 yard mark this season, eclipsing his previous season high of 395 yards in 2018. Jones has legitimate vertical ability to give opposing corners issues. He epitomizes the great aspects of the transfer portal.
Witherspoon only has one interception in 2022, but his impact far exceeds that stat. Witherspoon has helped to lead the charge for what has become one of the very best defenses in the entire nation with 11 passes defensed. There is a lot to love about Witherspoon’s game and he seems to be firmly in the mix as a Day Two selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. On film, he looks to have desirable length and a tenacity to plant and stick ball carriers. Witherspoon is one you want on your team when the draft ends.
Devon Witherspoon laying the wood. pic.twitter.com/KKS8ovCQjx— Illinois Football Focus (@IlliniFB) October 9, 2022
Game of the Week: (4) TCU @ (18) Texas
Saturday, 7:30 PM Eastern, ABC
There is no obvious epic matchup quite like last week’s No. 1 Tennesee vs. No. 3 Georgia. But this game has critical Big 12 and playoff implications to it. Let’s dive in further to see what we can expect from Saturday night’s showcase game.
The Texas offense goes as its running backs do. Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson are both surefire NFL backs. Robinson will very likely be the first running back selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. His play gives reason to believe that he’s the best back coming out of college since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Robinson averages nearly six yards per carry and has a chance to eclipse 2,000 yards of offense this season. Johnson is a huge back who averages 6.3 yards per carry. There’s not much dropoff in this two-headed monster of a backfield.
Underclassmen Xavier Worthy and Ja’Tavion Sanders are pass catchers to watch who are 2024 eligible.
TCU linebacker Dee Winters is a fun watch. Winters is undersized but athletic, and brings the thud. He will be forced to miss the first half of this matchup due to a targeting penalty last week against Texas Tech.
The cornerback pairing of Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Josh Newton is a quality one for the Horned Frogs. The two have combined to nab four interceptions and 12 passes defensed this season.
Mark Perry is an impressive athlete on the backend for the Frogs.
When TCU is on offense, we’ve already discussed the importance of Quentin Johnston’s presence on the field. He is a game-time decision for the matchup on Saturday.
Another player to keep close watch on offense is left guard Steve Avila who has played both center in the past and now guard at an extremely high level.
Texas interior defensive lineman Keondre Coburn can only be described in one word—hoss! The 6’2”, 340-pound Coburn has improved as a pass rusher and moves well for such a big man.
Texas has a pair of quality linebackers in Jaylan Ford and DeMarvion Overshown. Both players have some very intriguing physical traits and versatility. The former, Ford, has been wrecking shop all season. Overshown is a physical freak with measurables that will make NFL coaches’ hearts sing. Standing 6’4” and 225-pounds, Overshown is a former safety who moves like that on film. On the hoof, Overshown looks like the perfect modern day Will linebacker.
D’Shawn Jamison’s ability to matchup with Johnston will need binoculars on it all game long.