We’re nearing the end of the 2023 college football regular season with plenty still at stake in regards to the College Football Playoff. While this week doesn’t bring a ton of firepower, the additional tensions still very much exist.
The week features four top-25 matchups with some extra eyes on the PAC-12, and that’s where the week starts.
Twenty-second-ranked Utah heads to No. 17 Arizona for what should be a tightly contested PAC-12 matchup out west. It’s not looking good for either team’s odds to make the PAC-12 Championship game. But there are bowl implications and the matchup as a whole is intriguing as Utah has pieced together a 7-3 campaign while the Wildcats continue to find wins thanks to the contributions on both sides of the football at varying points in the season.
There’s a chance that newly lofted No. 1 Georgia receives a test on the road this week when they travel to No. 18 Tennessee. Georgia seems to be firing on all cylinders at the right time with their offense getting players back and healthy. 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 matchup between No. 21 Kansas State and No. 25 Kansas. It’s not everyday you see these two ranked at the same time, but that’s the exact situation we see here. Kansas State has bounced back after beginning the year at 3-2 while Kansas has had to piece together a quarterback turnstile with star Jalon Daniels going down with a back issue earlier this season.
We’ll spoil the game of the week early here because of the obvious primetime matchup — No. 5 Washington travels to No. 11 Oregon State as a road underdog to the Beavers. The Huskies remain undefeated in 2023 at 10-0. Although not an impossible run, a loss in this game would seriously muddy the path to the College Football Playoff. Washington has struggled on defense in recent weeks, but their passing game is still an elite unit. This should be a fun game to track Saturday night.
With the ranked matchups set, let’s discuss a couple of prospects ready to face off against one another in Week 12.
North Carolina QB Drake Maye and WR Tez Walker vs. Clemson CB Nate Wiggins
One of the best overall players in the country is North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye. Maye is a legitimate candidate to be taken first overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. Maye can make any throw on the field with plus athleticism to pull off the unthinkable. Maye will be facing one of the best defenses in college football with plenty of ACC hopes at stake.
Maye was joined by his favorite target Tez Walker after his original waiver for his second transfer was denied. An appeal eventually allowed Walker to play after sitting out four games. Walker has now proven himself as one of the best receivers in the country — a silky smooth mover at 6’3” and 200 pounds. Walker has 600 yards and six touchdowns through six games.
His matchup in this one is very likely to be Clemson’s star cornerback Nate Wiggins. Wiggins did well with another big body in Florida State’s Keon Coleman earlier this season. He now gets another showcase opportunity against Walker. Wiggins has first-round tape and is likely to be one of the top corners off the board.
While Wiggins already has a ton of tape to back up his draft status, this is a flag-plant opportunity for Maye and Walker against an elite defense.
Tez Walker second TD of the night. pic.twitter.com/I6JZOOSHgD— NMD Grant (@NMDgrant) October 15, 2023
Notre Dame OT Joe Alt vs. Wake Forest EDGE Jasheen Davis
Irish left tackle Joe Alt has a legitimate 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 gotten better in 2023 with balance and overall dominance.
He gets to matchup against one of the more underrated pass rushers in the country with 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 game. He’s not overly twitchy but the high motor and power in his hands show up in a big way on his film.
We’ll see if Davis can make a dent in Alt. If he’s able to put some effective reps together, it could be a feather in his cap for his draft stock. For Alt, we’re just looking to see if it’s the normal status quo of dominance this week.
Game of the Week
No. 5 Washington @ No. 11 Oregon State
We discussed this game above, but it’s the one matchup this week that you’ll surely want to be seated for. The Huskies are road underdogs as an undefeated team — something you’ll rarely ever see. Washington has a lot to prove on the defensive side of the ball, while the Beavers are scrappy. Oregon State doesn’t have a ton of recognizable names, but they have a nasty offensive line and they’ll want to run the football to condense the game.
Washington boasts one of the best passing attacks in the nation behind the arm of signal caller Michael Penix. He’s accompanied by the nation’s best pass-catching trio with receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja’Lynn Polk. McMillan has been dinged all year but it’s been of no issue to Penix.
Oregon State left tackle Taliese Fuaga is their star player. He has a shot to be a first-round selection in this coming NFL Draft. He’s the main COG in a dominant run blocking unit up front.
Washington’s ability to pass the ball at a high level and the Beavers’ superpower of running the football on a weakened Washington run defense displays a fascinating mesh of strengths for both sides.