College football is back!
As the 2022 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our sporadic NFL Draft coverage over the course of the fall and winter. Whether you’re a fan of the draft or just a college football fan, this series looks to give you an idea of what to watch each week.
Windy City Gridiron’s Lead Draft Analyst Jacob Infante will be taking a look at what to expect in Week 10 of this year’s college football campaign.
Game of the Week
Jacob: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 24 Washington, Saturday Nov. 12, 6:00 p.m. CST
With the college football playoff spots up in the air, a win for Oregon over a ranked Pac-12 opponent could go a long way to aid their chances. On the other side, Washington has the chance to play spoilers in one of the biggest conference games of the year.
After a slow start to the season with a huge loss to Georgia, Oregon has thoroughly outplayed their competition week in and week out. Their defense has the bulk of the team’s 2023 prospects. Cornerback Christian Gonzalez is a lengthy, fluid athlete with great route-recognition skills who projects as a Day 1 starter in the pros. Linebacker Noah Sewell has fallen down my board a little but still should start right away because of his physicality, size and high motor. Defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus is a stout, explosive 3-tech who can play anywhere around the defensive line, and linebacker Justin Flowe is raw but has a very high athletic ceiling. Bo Nix has improved significantly at quarterback since transferring from Auburn, and with his arm strength and athleticism paired with better accuracy, he has been one of the best offensive players in the nation. What Nix lacks in draft-eligible weapons to throw to, the Ducks make up for with his offensive line. Left tackle T.J. Bass, right tackle Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu and center Alex Forsyth could all generate Day 3 consideration from NFL teams.
The Huskies don’t have a bonafide superstar prospect, but they have a handful of potential NFL contributors. Edge rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui is their highest-ranked player on my board, and he’s an explosive defender who plays with a high motor, ideal pad level and a tenacious edge. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has taken a huge step in 2022, as the lefty has improved his accuracy tremendously from his time at Indiana. Around him on Washington’s offense is wide receiver Rome Odunze — a 6-foot-3 weapon with serious athletic tools — and left guard Jaxson Kirkland is a coordinated athlete along the interior. Edge rusher Bralen Trice might not declare in 2023 but has broken out in a big way with 6.5 sacks.
Big Matchup to Watch
Jacob: Louisville OT Trevor Reid and OG Caleb Chandler vs. No. 12 Clemson, Saturday Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m. CST
Louisville has had a solid season and already clinched a bowl game at 6-3, but an upset win over Clemson could propel them into the top 25 and add some momentum to close out the year. The Cardinals have two intriguing offensive linemen in left tackle Trevor Reid and left guard Caleb Chandler. Reid has improved his technique tremendously over the last few years, and he’s a very good athlete with raw power. Chandler is a bit raw from a hand usage and pad level perspective, but he’s powerful, intelligent and blocks with a nasty edge. Reid is the more toolsy prospect, but both warrant consideration in Day 3.
Clemson’s defensive line is six deep with players who could be drafted in 2023. Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and edge Myles Murphy are very likely first-round picks. It’s the depth of the group that’s the most enticing, though. Edge rusher K.J. Henry has looked explosive all year, while Xavier Thomas serves as an athletically-gifted backup. Along the interior, Tyler Davis is a popular name in draft cycles for his power against the run, and backup Ruke Orhorhoro showcases nice juice as a pass-rusher. Louisville’s offensive line will have its work cut out for it, but Reid and Chandler have a chance to significantly improve their draft stock if they perform well.
Jacob: South Dakota State RB Isaiah Davis vs. Illinois State, Saturday Nov. 12, 2:00 p.m. CST
If you like big-bodied running backs who bulldoze their way through defenders with sheer size and speed, Isaiah Davis is your guy.
Through 8 games, Davis has run for 882 yards and 9 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry in the process. He might not impress scouts too much as a pass-catcher, and his lateral agility in the open field is just okay. However, the physical tools he possesses are hard to not fall in love with. He uses his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame to plow through would-be tacklers and bounce off of arm tackle attempts with relative ease. Not only is he a bruiser who thrives in between the tackles, but when he finds an open running lane, he has very good acceleration coming out of the backfield.
The Jackrabbits have had a great season, and Davis has played a big role in their 9-1 campaign, with their only loss coming by 4 points to Iowa in Week 1. With their last game of the year on Saturday against Illinois State, Davis has the chance to finish off a strong year and further propel his draft stock.