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2023 NFL Draft: Week 12 college football preview & live chat

The Pac-12 has the week’s lone pair of spotlight games

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 15 LSU at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College football Week 12 is going to give fans the opportunity to catch their breath some. It’s been a wild season, with plenty of ups and downs, and storylines around the country. Only two matchups are on display this coming week—both of which are Pac-12 games.

Tenth-ranked Utah travels to No. 12 Oregon in a game that could certainly determine who is headed to the Pac-12 championship game. The Utes have been rolling to the tune of four straight wins, including delivering the first loss of the season to USC. Oregon just lost their second game of the year where they were stunned by Washington. The Ducks’ passing defense has been a struggle all season.

Seventh-ranked USC faces No. 16 UCLA in what will be the most anticipated battle for the victory bell in years. Two of the most storied programs in college football will put on a bit of a Big 10 preview. The Trojans boast one of the best offenses in the sport led by sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams. Star wide receiver Jordan Addison played sparingly last week after being put on the shelf with an injury in the middle of October. UCLA, in comparison, also has an elite offense. The Bruins’ combination of elite running back Zach Charbonnet and dynamic quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has unlocked one of the single best rushing offenses in the country. Don’t expect that to slow down against a USC defense that has especially struggled in recent weeks.

Let’s talk some prospect matchups for Week 12.

LB Drew Sanders (Arkansas) vs. Ole Miss Rushing Attack

One of the more intriguing prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft is Sanders. The Alabama transfer has found a home at Arkansas, where he’s able to use all of his gifts to create problems for opposing offenses. Arkansas’ secondary has dealt with the injury bug this year, and it’s Sanders who’s been forced to pick up a lot of slack. He’s the best playmaker on defense—doubling as the second-leading tackler and the leading sack-getter on the team. Sanders aligns off the ball and as a pass rusher, where he can show off just how athletic and twitchy he is.

Ole Miss has one of the best rushing attacks in the country, and Lane Kiffin isn’t afraid of the analytics—his willingness to run the ball down the throat of defenses has been extremely effective. Freshman phenom Quinshon Judkins is leading that charge, even more so following a knee injury to 2023 draft-eligible talent Zach Evans. No matter if it’s Evans or Judkins, not many teams have been able to stop the Rebels when they want to run the football.

OT Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland) vs. Ohio State’s pass rush (Zach Harrison)

Duncan is a vaunted tackle prospect who plays in a bad offense. The Terrapins were looked at as a team with a bunch of offensive firepower entering the season—but that hasn’t materialized. While Maryland is pretty bad, Duncan is pretty darn good. He gets the opportunity to play against Zach Harrison—who is extremely difficult to deal with because of his physical abilities.

Harrison is one of several talented defensive linemen on the Buckeyes. It will be fascinating to see the two of them go at it in a game where Ohio State is favored by four touchdowns. I’m looking forward to seeing how Duncan handles the sheer size of Harrison in the trenches.

Underclassman Watch — LB Harold Perkins (LSU)

We need to talk about something. It can no longer be ignored. LSU linebacker Harold Perkins is taking college football by storm, and he looks like a lock to be a future top-five pick in the NFL Draft. The class of 2022 five-star, Perkins singlehandedly lifted his team to victory against Arkansas a week ago thanks to his four sacks on the Razorbacks’ extremely athletic quarterback, Malik Hornsby. Hornsby had been known as perhaps the fastest quarterback in college football, despite being a backup to regular starter K.J. Jefferson. Jefferson was unable to play in this game, and Hornsby did very little with his legs thanks to Perkins.

Not many people can keep up with Hornsby; Perkins did. You can see the special athleticism jump off the screen. Perkins was spying, he was coming off the edge, and he was legitimately bending the corner to get to Hornsby.

Number 40 in Baton Rouge is special, and he’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Game of the Week: No. 7 USC @ No. 16 UCLA

Saturday, 8:00 p.m. EST, FOX

This is game of the week just because of the simple fact that it has an outside chance to be the highest-scoring football game of the season. Neither of these defenses present much resistance, and the offenses sure are fun.

On offense for the Trojans, it starts with sophomore all-star Caleb Williams at quarterback. Williams has a good chance to be the first signal caller selected in the 2024 Draft. He’s a fantastic watch.

Jordan Addison is one of the best 2023 NFL-draft-eligible players regardless of position. He’s duking it out for WR1 honors. After being out for a couple weeks with injury, Addison’s workload could see an uptick in such a crucial game.

Andrew Vorhees is one of the better interior offensive linemen in the country. He mans the left guard spot for the Trojans. His stopping power to move defensive linemen off their spot stands out in a big way on film.

UCLA’s key prospects are also their best running threats with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet.

Thompson-Robinson is having his best college season as he continues to chain highlight plays together regularly. His trademark in 2022 has been his ability to hurdle defenders. He’s slight of frame and an older prospect, but his athletic ability and accuracy (71% completion percentage) have been aspects of his game that stand out.

Charbonnet’s top-end speed is barely average, but his short-area explosion and his ability to run with purpose is what makes him special. The Michigan transfer is a bigger back who has one of the more powerful jump cuts you’ll see in college football. USC is going to have to remain contained and be committed to their run fits with a back who likes to deceive at the line of scrimmage.