Who to watch in college football: November 18th

November 16, 2023

#5 Washington (10-0) at #11 Oregon State (8-2); 7:30 PM ET; ABC … Washington looks like it has pretty much locked up a spot in next month’s Pac-12 conference championship game – likely a rematch against Oregon – however, the Huskies need a win in Corvallis in order to keep their CFP playoff hopes alive. And Corvallis has become a very tough out for visiting teams as the Beavers have emerged as one of the surprise teams of the year in college football. Indeed. both their losses this fall have been by three points against ranked teams on the road. Certainly, pro scouts will be paying attention as the Beavers have some quality players especially upfront on an offensive line that includes OTs Taliese Fuaga (#75, 6-6, 335), one of the hottest OL prospects in this year’s draft class, and versatile veteran Josh Gray (#67, 6-4, 305). They have helped former Clemson star QB DJ Uiagalelei (#5, 6-4, 225) enjoy something of a bounce-back year in which he is on pace to throw for almost 3,000 yards and has 20TD passes against just 4 picks, although as a sub-60% passer is probably still more of a later round draft prospect. Same for ERs Andrew Chatfield (#10, 6-1, 255) and John McCartan (#6, 6-5, 260) who spearhead the defence. The Beavers’ best prospect, though, is sophomore RB Damien Martinez (#6, 6-0, 235) who is averaging 6,6 yards per carry and is already over 1,000 yards on the campaign.

Of course, it will be another week under the microscope for Washington QB Michael Penix (#9, 6-3, 215), who is having a very Heisman-worthy season as he leads the country in passing with almost 360 passing yards per game; he’s also completed 68% of his throws, while throwing for 26 scores. Pro scouts, though, are a little more divided on Penix, who is a very accurate, instinctive passer, but has a somewhat complicated injury history and isn’t very mobile.

It certainly hasn’t hurt Penix’ chances that’s he’s throwing to one of the better receiver corps in the nation featuring Rome Odunze (#1, 6-3, 215), who appears to be in the mix to be one of the first 4-5 receivers off the board next April, rising junior Ja’Lynn Polk (#2, 6-2, 205) and veteran possession receiver Jalen McMillan (#11, 6-0, 195). The Huskies offence also features one of the hottest offensive linemen in this year’s draft class in LT Troy Fantanu (#55, 6-4, 320), another potential first-rounder, although he may have to ultimately kick inside as he lacks prototype length for an OT. For good measure, the Huskies also have one of the better rush-end pairs in college football in DEs Bralen Trice (#8, 6-4, 275) and Zion Tupuola-Fetui (#4, 6-4, 255). Indeed, the Huskies’ DEs versus the Beavers’ OTs should be one of the better individual match-ups on this week’s college schedule.

#1 Georgia (10-0) at #18 Tennessee (7-3); 3:30 PM ET; CBC … This will be the 3rd straight week the tw0-time defending national champions have been scheduled against a ranked opponent, although this week they’ll have to do it on the road at Tennessee after holding serve the past couple of weeks at home against Missouri (31-21) and Mississippi (52-17). And Georgia will have both TE Brock Bowers (#19, 6-4, 230) and OT Amarius Mims (#65, 6-6, 320), the Bulldogs top two prospects for 2024, back in the lineup for a second straight game after both missed extensive time with injuries. It hardly seemed to matter, though, as the Dawgs just kept rolling along, in large part because they still win mostly with defence. Indeed, Georgia appears to have quality prospects at just about every position on the D with the headliners including DT Nazir Stackhouse (#78, 6-2, 320), LBs Jamon Dumas-Johnson (#10, 6-1, 245) and Smael Mondon (#2, 6-3, 225), CB Kamari Lassiter (#3, 6-0, 180) and safeties Javon Bullard (#22, 5-11, 105) and Tylee Smith (#23, 5-10, 205). However, the unit’s best prospects are actually sophomores DE Mykel Williams (#13, 6-5, 265) and S Malachi Starks (21, 6-1, 205), both of whom figure to be elite prospects in 2025. Meanwhile, players to watch when Georgia has the ball include C Sedric Van Pran (#63, 6-4, 310), arguably the top prospect at the position for the upcoming draft, along with OT Xavier Truss (#73, 6-6, 320) and WR Dominic Lovett (#6, 5-10, 190).

For its part, Tennessee likely won’t have anyone selected in this year’s opening round, but do have several decent second-day candidates including DE Tyler Baron (#9, 6-5, 260), RB Jaylen Wright (#0, 5-10, 210), a speedster who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry to date this fall, and OLB Aaron Beasley (#6, 6-1, 225), while QB Joe Milton (#7, 6-4, 235), C Cooper Mays (#63, 6-3, 305), TE Jake Warren (#87, 6-5, 255), DT Omarr Thomas (#21, 6-3, 320) and S Jaylen McCollough (#2, 6-0, 210) head a large contingent of later round or free agent possibilities. At the same time, the Vols’ best prospect may be sophomore DE James Pearce (#27, 6-4, 245) who leads the team with 8 sacks on the year but won’t be draft eligible until 2025.

Bonus coverage: There’s actually a 3rd game this week involving ranked teams when #22 Utah (7-3) plays at #17 Arizona (7-3) that doesn’t necessarily impact on the conference race, but does feature maybe the most intriguing one-on-one match-up of the week when Utah DE Jonah Ellis (#83, 6-2, 250), who is second in the country with 12 sacks, goes up against Arizona OT Jordan Morgan (#77, 6-5, 325) arguably the fastest rising offensive lineman in this year’s draft class. Unfortunately, the game with a 3:30 KO is only available on the Pac-12 Network.