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Week 13 CFB preview, prospect spotlight, and open thread

Let’s take a look at which college games and prospects to keep an eye on in Week 13 of the 2023 season.

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Michigan v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

College football is back!

As the 2023 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our 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 13 of this year’s college football campaign.

Game of the Week

No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 2 Ohio State, Saturday Nov. 25, 11:00 a.m. CST

The Game is arguably the biggest rivalry in college football, and that’s reflected by how much talent both Michigan and Ohio State have for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Here’s what I had to say about the Wolverines prior to their Week 11 win over Penn State:

The star of the show at Michigan is J.J. McCarthy, a strong-armed playmaker who has looked much improved in terms of pocket presence and consistent accuracy in 2023. He’s my current QB3 and could solidify himself as a potential top-10 pick in this crucial final stretch of the season. The Wolverines have a stellar backfield duo in running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, both of whom carrying Day 2 grades for me at the moment. They also have speedy receiver Roman Wilson and big body Cornelius Johnson, while their offensive line is once again headlined by NFL-caliber talent with the likes of right guard Zak Zinter, center Drake Nugent and left tackle LaDarius Henderson. On defense, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins carries their highest grade for me as a physical freak with impressive speed and play strength. Linebacker Junior Colson is a rangy tackler at the second level, and edge rusher Josaiah Stewart is a slept-on name in this class. The secondary is also strong at Michigan, with rangy free safety Rod Moore, scrappy cornerback Mike Sainristil and ball-hawking corner Josh Wallace all standing out as future draft picks.

I’ve profiled Ohio State twice this year, once back in Week 4 and another time in Week 8. To mix things up, I’m going to put down which tentative round grade I have on every Buckeyes prospect I’ve scouted for this class.

  • RB Tre’Veyon Henderson (Round 2-3)
  • RB Miyan Williams (Round 5-6)
  • WR Marvin Harrison (Top 3)
  • WR Emeka Egbuka (Round 1)
  • WR Julian Fleming (UDFA)
  • TE Cade Stover (Round 3-4)
  • RG Matthew Jones (Round 7-UDFA)
  • LG Donovan Jackson (Round 2-3)
  • DT Michael Hall Jr. (Round 2)
  • DT Tyleik Williams (Round 3)
  • DT Ty Hamilton (Round 6-7)
  • EDGE J.T. Tuimoloau (Round 1-2)
  • EDGE Jack Sawyer (Round 3)
  • LB Tommy Eichenberg (Round 3)
  • CB Denzel Burke (Round 2)
  • S Lathan Ransom (Round 5-6)

Big Matchup to Watch

Washington State CB Chau Smith-Wade @ No. 4 Washington WRs, Saturday Nov. 25, 3:00 p.m. CST

Much hype has surrounded Washington’s wide receiver trio of Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan. The latter two figure to be late Day 2 selections, while Odunze has a strong argument to be a top-20 pick in the 2024 draft.

One of the defenders Washington State will trust to stop this fearsome group is star cornerback Chau Smith-Wade. He’s a smaller field-side cornerback at 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds, but his explosiveness and intelligence really stand out on tape. His burst coming out of his breaks, his deep speed shooting out of his backpedal, and his downhill speed are all very impressive. Smith-Wade reads route concepts well and showcases good patience through a receiver’s stems, and his consistent effort allows him to make plays on a regular basis. Most of his work figures to come against Odunze and Polk on Saturday, but if he can put together a strong individual performance, it should only help his value as someone I think could develop into a good starting cornerback in the NFL.

Sleeper Highlight

Texas Tech EDGE Myles Cole @ No. 7 Texas, Friday Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m. CST

Cole isn’t a sleeper in my traditional sense, since he’s a Power 5 player instead of a small-school prospect. However, as the second edge-rushing option on a team that barely cracked 6 wins, he’s fallen under the radar more than he probably should.

Currently the 1021st player on the consensus big board at NFL Mock Draft Database, Cole’s ranking will surely rise once more people catch on. He has an 86-inch wingspan (roughly 98th percentile for edge rushers) with a maximum GPS speed of over 20 miles per hour. He’s a former defensive tackle who’s quick enough to rush off the edge but big enough at 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds to rush the passer along the interior in subpackages. Cole plays with a red-hot motor, churns his legs well at the point of contact and offers the raw strength needed to win with power.

Though Cole faces a tough task going up against Texas’ offense, he’s a talented defender with inside-outside versatility who should be able to make his presence felt on Friday. I like him on Day 3 as a toolsy developmental piece.

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