We hope you’re going to be sitting down this Saturday for what could be the most loaded week of matchups this entire season. It’s a week with six (!!) ranked matchups on the docket and that doesn’t even include a potential preview of the ACC Championship Game between No. 4 Florida State and Clemson. The amount of star-power matchups on display will be a narrative that carries seven months to next April when it’s draft time.
With all of the talent on display against one another in Week 1, there are a ton of things to watch. But let’s highlight three player matchups you don’t want to miss in Week 4. Catch your preview for this week, the game of the week, and drop your thoughts in the comments about the day’s action.
Florida State WR Keon Coleman vs. Clemson CB Nate Wiggins
A battle of potential first-round wide receiver and first-round cornerback is set to take place in the early afternoon when the Seminoles travel to Death Valley and face Clemson. Coleman has been an early season darling after he went for three scores against LSU on a national stage the first week of the season. Coleman offers a unique size and athleticism combination with the traits to win at the catch point. He was a former high-profile basketball recruit who easily could have carved out a career as a high major Division I basketball player. In fact, Coleman played legitimate minutes for notable college basketball blue blood Michigan State before he started lighting up the gridiron for the Spartans.
Wiggins is a freaky athlete in his own right who has a more lanky but long frame. Wiggins has the ability to get sticky in coverage with any player who lines up with him. The question will be whether he can hold up at the catch point against a bigger, physical Coleman. Wiggins is coming off a pick-six last week against FAU and is looking to carry more momentum into Saturday afternoon in a heavyweight tilt.
Texas A&M Wide Receivers (Moose Muhammad III, Ainias Smith, Evan Stewart) vs. Auburn DBs (Nehemiah Pritchett, DJ James, and Jaylin Simpson)
Both of these SEC foes have a real chance to be bottom-half teams in their conference, but they do have a very fun strength-on-strength matchup to watch this week. A&M’s receivers are really legit. Their best — Evan Stewart — is an underclassman, but Smith and Muhammad are both talented draft-eligible prospects. Muhammad hasn’t been able to get going the way he probably wanted to start the season. This is a great showcase spot for him. Smith has had an injury-riddled career, but the utility in the Aggies’ offense has an opportunity of his own to impress.
Nehemiah Pritchett is likely Auburn’s best defensive back. He hasn’t played this year, but he’s a top senior cornerback with a good shot to see his first action of the season against the Aggies. Pritchett is very talented and before any play on the field this year, he looks like a top-100 selection. D.J. James is likely to be his running mate opposite of Pritchett in this one. James already has an interception this year. Safety Jaylin Simpson has All-American hopes with three interceptions including a pick-six already in 2023.
If you’re not tuned in for one of the headliner matchups on Saturday, this is must-see television.
Iowa Swiss Army Knife Cooper Dejean Gets The Chance to Game Wreck Against Penn State
A draft prospect who needs plenty of additional media attention when mentioning the best (and coolest) players in college football is Iowa defender Cooper Dejean. Dejean is one of the most versatile players in college football who can legitimately play anywhere from outside corner to dime linebacker at a high level. Not only can Dejean line up all over the defense, he is also the Hawkeyes’ punt returner.
The Hawkeyes’ offense is clearly outmatched in this game so they’ll need a heroic effort from their defense to give themselves a chance. The manner in which Iowa deploys Dejean in this game could be a difference between a win and a loss. Regardless, this is a ranked matchup you’ll want eyeballs on this weekend — No. 3 on the Hawkeyes’ defense is popcorn viewing.
Game of the Week
No. 6 Ohio State @ No. 9 Notre Dame
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
A Top-10 matchup between two of the most iconic brands in the sport is quite the way to headline a loaded weekend of college football. Both of these programs have legitimate College Football Playoff hopes with a ton of NFL Draft prospects all over the field.
Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman is off to a red-hot start with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions to pair with over 1,000 passing yards. The Irish passing game has a spark for the first time in a long time behind Hartman’s arm.
If all things are equal, running back Audric Estime is one of the top stat producers in the country at his position, rushing for 8.3 yards per carry and over 500 yards at the one-third mark of the season. Estime runs with legitimate power and purpose, and he possesses long speed to pull away from opposing defensive backs.
Left tackle Joe Alt is one of the best at his position in the country. He hasn’t allowed a pressure in 112 pass rush reps this year, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics. Alt will have his hands full with a very good Ohio State defensive line, which has under-produced some in 2023.
When Ohio State lines up on defense, it’ll feature a defensive line full of freaky athletes across from a very stout Notre Dame offensive line. The edge position hasn’t produced sacks early on the year, with former five star underclassmen edge rushers J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer failing to produce a sack in 2023 thus far. Both players had a lot of hype going into the season, which now has faded. This is an opportunity to generate that buzz back once again. The Buckeyes are also very strong on the interior with explosive pass-rush presence Michael Hall Jr. and Tyleik Williams, both of whom have produced a sack this season.
The defensive talent doesn’t stop there for Ohio State. Linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers are legitimate draft prospects. They complement each other well — as Eichenberg is a quick processor and very strong run defender, while Chambers is a player who fits the weakside spot better as a cover and chase player.
Cornerback Denzel Burke is playing football as well as anyone at the position in the country at the moment with four passes defended and a pick so far. Safeties Lathan Ransom and Josh Proctor are downhill strikers and pure playmakers. You won’t find a more fun safety tandem in the country this season.
The Buckeyes, as you may know, are loaded with star power at the skill positions in 2023 — a trend we’ve noticed in the past few years for Ohio State teams. Running back TreVeyon Henderson is a former five-star recruit putting up quality numbers in 2023. He has legit juice, contact balance, and just a great overall skill set at the position.
The true star power is at receiver, led by potential generational talent and NFL legacy Marvin Harrison Jr. on the outside. Harrison does some fantastic things on a football field combining his athleticism, physicality, and size to win in every area as a route runner and ball winner. His co-pilot Emeka Egbuka is no slouch himself. He’s a former five-star tracking for the first round. He’s a quarterback’s friend with baby-soft hands and a true zone-coverage buster. Running third in the group is Julian Fleming who is impactful with the ball in his hands. He’s a threat to create after the catch even if he’s not polished the way Harrison and Egbuka are.
Tight end Cade Stover has NFL size and traits to be a Y-tight end at the next level. He’s been very good as a receiver in 2023 but his first touchdown has eluded him,
Donovan Jackson is one of the most talented interior offensive line prospects in the country. He’s a very good athlete with strong pass-blocking ability. Keep an eye out for how he handles physicality this week.
On Notre Dame’s defense, they’ll have a tall task to reel in the Buckeyes. Former Ohio State defender Javontae Jean-Baptiste has been a factor especially in the run game early on for the Irish. Notre Dame doesn’t have as strong of a defensive line this year, but Jean-Baptiste stands out physically. He’ll surely have a chip on his shoulder against his former team.
Linebacker Marist Liufau is one of the best strikers in college football. He’s a fun watch who plays with his hair on fire. JD Bertrand is another that runs by his side at the linebacker spot.
Cornerback Cam Hart will have his hands full with the receivers on the other side of the ball. The talent exists for Hart who is an impressive athlete with three pass breakups already in 2023.