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2023 NFL Draft: Championship weekend recap

A wild weekend of impressive games

Kansas v Kansas State Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

College football’s 2022 Championship Weekend was even more wild than anyone could have ever imagined. The College Football Playoff impacts were alive and well as a bit of a nailbiter for CFP Selection Sunday resulted from the wild slate of games.

The biggest impact came in the PAC-12 Championship Game between formerly No. 4 USC and No. 11 Utah on Friday night. Sophomore sensation (and possible Heisman favorite) quarterback Caleb Williams injured his hamstring in the first half and never looked quite right after a highlight-reel run to set USC up with a first down deep in Utah territory in the first quarter. By game’s end, he had trouble even walking. The Utes took full advantage to the tune of seven sacks in this one as Williams refused to leave the game at any point. USC’s worst preseason fears came true as the defense nosedived with the hard-nosed nature of Utah in this one. USC’s lack of a run game and the over reliance on Williams was accentuated with the struggles of the offense in the second half — the Utes had no issues teeing off on countless blitzes of the gimpy signal caller. With the 47-24 loss, USC dropped in the final CFP rankings and missed out on the College Football Playoff.

Top-ranked Georgia handled their business against No. 14 LSU by way of a 50-30 victory. The ‘Dawgs led 35-10 at halftime as LSU starting quarterback Jayden Daniels left the game early due to injury. Something to monitor is Georgia’s defense giving up over 500 yards through the air on Saturday. Georgia now heads to the CFP undefeated and looking like the heavy favorite to repeat as National Champions.

Third-ranked TCU dropped an overtime thriller against No. 10 Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship in a game where the Wildcats ended up being the team favored by game time at noon on Saturday. TCU quarterback Max Duggan put on his cape to will his team to victory, but a clear injury to the Heisman candidate and a goal line stand by Kansas State on the Frogs led to TCU being left in limbo in regards to their Playoff hopes. Luckily, the Frogs were able to stay put in the rankings with their first loss coming in such close fashion to a quality opponent.

The Tulane Green Wave are the Group of Five champions in 2022. An AAC Championship Game decided that Tulane would get the opportunity to play in the Cotton Bowl against USC after a dominant offensive showing that included rattling off over 10 yards per play. We’ll talk more about one who specifically impressed for the Green Wave in this contest in a bit.

The CFB Playoff is set with the four teams: Georgia, Michigan, TCU, and Ohio State.

RB Tyjae Spears (Tulane) needs way more buzz

Spears is one of the most talented backs you don’t know. He had an outside case to be at the Heisman Trophy ceremony for his season and the team’s overall success in 2022. While he won’t be there, nearly 1,400 rushing yards at 6.5 yards per tote with 15 touchdowns is as impressive as it gets for runners in college football. Spears has a lot of James Cook to his game, and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler agrees with me on that sentiment. He has sudden movements and a smooth burst to him that draws intrigue. He’s likely not an every-down runner due to having below-average size. Spears has more eligibility remaining, but there’s not much more for him to do at the college level. Spears should be bound for the NFL.

Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate (Utah) continues to produce in a new place

Diabate is nothing short of intriguing as a linebacker prospect. He’s played a mixture of edge and off-the-ball ‘backer in college. On Friday night, the pass-rush ability was on display as he harassed one of the nation’s top passers throughout the night in the biggest game of the season. Diabate is a transfer from Florida who put up plenty of statistics in the SEC before his move out west. Diabate finished his fourth-year junior season with the Utes. While he could still return, it’s fair to wonder what NFL scouts and personnel are going to think of a 6’3” 220-pound linebacker with his brand of versatility.

Edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) has freaky movement ability

Anudike-Uzomah doesn’t look as tall as his listed 6’4”, but the third-year sophomore is barrel-chested with all of the athletic traits you could ever want out of your edge rusher. Anudike-Uzomah and Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse possess some very similar traits — great motor, gifted athletes, and still undisciplined at times. The latter, perhaps, being a bit more polished at this time. A smart team would be wise to swing on the traits of the Kansas State star late in the first or early second round in April should he declare. He’s a personal favorite on this end. Anudike-Uzomah registered another key sack in the Wildcats’ victory.