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 Alabama vs. No. 10 LSU, Saturday Nov. 5, 6:00 p.m. CST
Alabama and LSU are two SEC blue bloods, so it’s no surprise their matchup figures to have several future NFL stars.
The Crimson Tide are loaded with NFL talent on both sides of the ball. Bryce Young leads an offense with a potential second-round running back in Jahmyr Gibbs, an athletic move tight end in Cameron Latu, and likely 2023 draft picks up front in left tackle Tyler Steen, left guard Javion Cohen and right guard Emil Ekiyor. Though they don’t have an alpha wide receiver like in recent years past, Jermaine Burton and Tyler Harrell have nice developmental tools. Defensively, Will Anderson projects as a future star off the edge. Henry To’o To’o could be a top-50 draft pick come April, and cornerback Eli Ricks is a potential star coming off of a fantastic outing last week. Their secondary features other draft-eligible studs like safeties Jordan Battle, Brian Branch, DeMarcco Hellams and Malachi Moore, and the defensive line has two healthy potential 2023 draft picks in DJ Dale and Byron Young. That’s not even including their freshmen and sophomores!
LSU’s offense is pretty young, as 6 of their 11 starters are not eligible for the 2023 draft. However, they do have a stud wide receiver in Kayshon Boutte, who has faced some ups and downs in 2023 but has the physical profile of a first-round pick. Jayden Daniels is unlikely to declare for this year’s draft, but he’s still a dual-threat talent worth remembering as a late-round flier going forward. The Tigers have one of the best defensive lines in college football, with Ali Gaye and BJ Ojulari both projecting as draft picks this upcoming year — especially the later, who could go as early as late Round 1 — should they declare. Jaquelin Roy is an explosive 3-technique defensive tackle worth watching, too. LSU has two lengthy and intriguing cornerbacks in Mekhi Garner and Jarrick Bernard-Converse, both of whom seeming like they should be higher on the consensus than they currently are. Safety Jay Ward is also a gifted athlete with great length and physicality as a tackler.
Big Matchup to Watch
Jacob: Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski vs. No. 2 Ohio State, Saturday Nov. 5, 11:00 a.m. CST
I’ve written about Peter Skoronski plenty over the last few weeks, so this highlight isn’t so much about introducing him as it is highlighting a serious chance for him to excel against a great defense.
Ohio State has produced plenty of talented edge rushers in recent years, and this year’s team is no exception. Zach Harrison is a physical specimen with absurd length and athleticism who should be at least a Day 2 selection when it’s all said and done. When Skoronski won’t be going up against him, he’ll likely be facing true sophomore J.T. Tuimoloau, who is coming off of a 3-sack, 2-interception performance against Penn State last week.
If you’d like to read my thoughts about Skoronski, feel free to check my most recent offensive tackle rankings or my pre-Chase Claypool mock draft. Some have speculated Skoronski could make the jump to guard due to his being undersized and rumors surrounding less-than-ideal arm length. Time will tell exactly how long his arms measure out to be — the typical minimum benchmark is 33 inches — but there’s no denying that he has been stellar at left tackle this season. With another strong outing against arguably the best competition he’ll face all year, Skoronski could further make his case as the top offensive lineman in this class.
Jacob: North Dakota State FB Hunter Luepke vs. Western Illinois, Saturday Nov. 5, 1:00 p.m. CST
Stop pretending like you don’t want fullback content. You know you want it.
Hunter Luepke has been the Bison’s leading rusher in five of their eight games to date. He is a tough-nosed runner who plays with equal tenacity both with the ball in his hands and as a blocker. His athletic background is absurd, as he was a two-time state wrestling champion, a three-time all-conference centerfielder in baseball, and a conference champion in the 100-meter dash in high school. His contact balance as a runner is top-notch, and he shows good burst as a ball-carrier and as a lead blocker.
Though Luepke is somewhat unproven as a pass-catcher, he stands a legitimate chance to be drafted in 2023. With a game against 0-8 Western Illinois ahead of him, this week could serve as a chance for him to put up some serious numbers.