It’s officially championship weekend in college football. The schedule has been consolidated significantly with the regular season coming to a close. There are still plenty of fun matchups to note, including a couple of College Football Playoff-defining games. Let’s talk some of the notable games for this weekend.
No. 4 USC was already upset by No. 11 Utah, 47-24, on Friday night. The game turned on its head when Trojans Heisman hopeful quarterback Caleb Williams was hobbled and significantly hindered with his legs throughout the entirety of the second half. Williams had played as well as anyone down the stretch of the season with his dazzling highlight plays in the air and on the ground. Utah preaches team toughness and they bullied the Trojans’ defense throughout the game. USC’s inability to get Utes runners on the ground was a huge difference in the game.
Let’s start with a battle of top-10 programs in the Big 12 Championship game. No. 3 TCU is set to square off against No. 10 Kansas State. The Horned Frogs are slim 1.5-point favorites inside AT&T Stadium tomorrow afternoon. The Frogs are hoping to parlay one of the most storied seasons in the program’s history into a College Football Playoff berth with the win. Star receiver Quentin Johnston is hoping to make his return for the team in purple. This game has true game of the season potential.
The SEC Championship Game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 14 LSU lost some of its luster when the Tigers suffered a shocking loss last weekend against a Texas A&M team that had seemingly quit. LSU is now playing with some house money with their playoff hopes dashed. They have an opportunity to knock down the top-ranked Bulldogs some. It’s likely Georgia makes the playoff even with a loss, but it will be intriguing to see the composure and level of compete from both teams in this game.
The AAC Championship game is a fun rematch from a few weeks ago between No. 22 UCF and No. 18 Tulane. The Knights ran all over the Green Wave last time they saw each other to the tune of over 300 yards on the ground. This should be a fun game with the one implication being group of five supremacy.
The nightcap is the ACC Championship Game between No. 9 Clemson and No. 23 North Carolina. This game has Orange Bowl implications with the winner headed to the New Year’s Six game. Tar Heels quarterback looks like an early draft pick in 2024; he will get a sturdy test filled with a defense of high draft selections. Clemson has come into the game sputtering on offense.
With the main slate of conference championship games set, let’s talk some prospect matchups to watch.
OT Broderick Jones (Georgia) vs. LSU’s Edge Pass Rush Duo (Ali Gaye and B.J. Ojulari)
Jones didn’t draw Alabama or LSU during the regular-season schedule this season, but this will likely be the two best edge rushers that Jones will have faced this season. Jones has looked like a first-round pick in 2022, and a good performance against LSU’s edge talent would only solidify that status.
Underclassman rusher B.J. Ojulari brings a bunch of juice for the Tigers and has proven himself as a fringe first-round talent in 2022. He’s put up 46 pressures this season. He only has five sacks this season, but it doesn’t tell the story of how impactful he’s been in 2022. Ali Gaye, his running mate, is fresh off a Senior Bowl acceptance. Gaye is a very good run defender with fantastic size at the position. Gaye only has a pair of sacks this season, but Gaye is likely to test Jones as a run blocker in this game.
Broderick Jones in pass protection this season:— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 1, 2022
85.4 Pass Block Grade
Zero Sacks Allowed
Zero QB Hits Allowed pic.twitter.com/C5CZB5B9Sm
WR Quentin Johnston (TCU) vs. CB Julius Brents (Kansas State)
Not many cornerbacks on the hoof can matchup with the physical profile of TCU receiver Quentin Johnston. But Kansas State’s Julius Brents is one of the few. Johnston has been battling an ankle injury this season. His status is a bit up in the air, but it seems likely Johnston could give it a go in such an important contest. Johnston moves differently at 6’4” and 215 pounds, and is a nightmare to defend for teams on the back end.
Enter Wildcats corner Julius Brents at a listed 6’4” and 202 pounds — he brings that frame with him on the football field. Brents is a good tackler who could play corner or safety at the next level. Brents has recently accepted a Senior Bowl invitation and gets his second shot at Johnston on Saturday.
Whew -- check out this solo tackle in support by Kansas State CB Julius Brents.— Ian Cummings (@IC_Draft) September 8, 2022
Reminder -- he's 6'4", 204 pounds, with 34" arms. pic.twitter.com/RhN0LWZYFp
WR Charlie Jones (Purdue) vs. CB D.J. Turner (Michigan)
Jones has been mentioned a multitude of times in our college football previews and recaps. He’s been one of the true transfer portal success stories who went from being a bit of an afterthought at Iowa to a successful receiver in the Big 10 who is generating some legitimate draft buzz for himself. Jones is sitting on 1,200 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns after a combined 718 yards through the first four years of his career. Jones has some juice to push vertically and he fully makes the Boilermakers’ offense go. Jones has accepted a Senior Bowl invite.
Cornerback D.J. Turner is a player who has generated buzz throughout the season for the Wolverines. At 6’0” and 180 pounds, Turner possesses fantastic athleticism at the position and has a lot of upside as a man-to-man defender at the next level. The battle between Jones and Turner should be a fun one on Saturday night.