With most of the big rivalry games coming up next weekend, the watchword in college this week is ‘Go west young scout!’ In fact, there are a couple of Pac-12 games between ranked with #7 Southern Cal playing #16 UCLA while #10 Utah will be at #12 in what are almost conference semi-finals. Here’s who we’ll be watching in the two big Pac-12 games this weekend:
#7 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (9-1) at #16 UCLA (8-2); 8 PM ET; FOX … This game is especially important for Southern Cal which still has some hope of getting an invitation to this year’s 4-team national championship playoffs, although they’ll need help from elsewhere. And for those that haven’t seen much of the Trojans this fall, they have a potential top 5-10 prospect in WR Jordan Addison (#3, 6-0, 175) who transferred from Pittsburgh last winter after a dominating season catching passes from the Panthers’ Kenny Pickett. Unfortunately, Addison, who isn’t all that big, hasn’t been as productive this year as he had to deal with a series of dings; in fact, its not clear how much he’ll be able to go against the Bruins. The Trojans also have a couple of very good second-day candidates in DT Tuli Tuipulotu (#49, 6-4, 290), a high energy interior pass rusher who is among the leaders in college football this fall with 11.5 sacks, and veteran OG Andrew Vorhees (#72, 6-5, 325) who could be the first interior offensive lineman off the board this coming April. Meanwhile, other Trojans to watch include LB Shane Lee (#53, 6-0, 245), FS Max Williams (#4, 5-9, 180), and C Brett Neilon (#62, 6-2, 295). Of course, that’s just for the 2023 draft as the Trojans also feature two of the best prospects in the country for the 2024 draft in QB Caleb Williams (#13, 6-1, 215), an exciting dual-threat type who could be in the conversation to go first overall next April, along with WR Mario Williams ( #4, 5-9, 180).
Some of the drama is this game was was erased when UCLA was upset by Arizona last weekend. However, the resurgent Bruins have still been one of college football’s better stories this fall. Certainly, nobody really expected the Bruins to be still in the hunt this deep into the season, but UCLA has been scoring points by the bushel this fall with an offense led by dynamic dual-threat QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (#1, 6-1, 205). Thompson-Robinson is another QB the NFL isn’t quite sure what to make of at this point, but it is hard to argue with his production which includes a lusty 71% completion rate, 20 TDs against just four picks, along with another 460 yards or so and 7 scores on the ground. And if he does end up being selected on the third day this year he could have several new friends join him including RB Zach Charbonnet (#24, 6-0, 220), who already has almost 1,200 rushing yards this fall despite missing a couple of games with an injury as he has averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, rangy WR Jake Bobo (#9, 6-5, 215), a transfer from Duke, gives the Bruins a big-play option on the outside.
#10 UTAH (8-2) at #12 OREGON (8-2); 10:30 PM ET; ESPN … Until last weekend, the Ducks had been thought of as the Pac-12’s best chance to sneak into the CFP playoff, but Oregon became a dropper when they were upset at home by Washington last week. However, they still have a shot at the Pac-12 championship game and maybe a Rose Bowl bid. Its also likely that Eugene will be a popular spot for pro teams looking to upgrade at CB as both teams have a good one in Christian Gonzalez (#0, 6-1, 200) of Oregon and Utah’s Clark Phillips (#1, 5-10, 185), both of whom are legit mid-to-late opening round prospects.
It will also give folks another chance to see what’s going on with Oregon QB Bo Nix (#10, 6-2, 215) who put in three rather nondescript seasons starting at Auburn before transferring west where he has quite literally put up very Heisman like numbers this fall with a 73% completion rate, 24 TDs versus 5 picks, along with over 500 rushing yards. However, the Utes also have a very good dual-threat QB of their own in Cameron Rising (#7, 6-2, 220), a 66% passer with 19 TD passes against just 4 picks.
At the same time, the Ducks’ best prospect along with Gonzalez is MLB Noah Sewell (#1, 6-2, 255), while other Ducks to watch include G/T TJ Bass (#56, 6-4, 315), C/G Alex Forsyth (#78, 64, 315), DT Brandon Dorlus (#3, 6-3, 290), LB Justin Flowe (#10, 6-3, 220) and DJ Johnson (#2, 6-3, 270), a former top-recruit who has shifted back and forth between ER and TE at Oregon. Meanwhile, Utah’s best prospect along with Phillips is TE Dalton Kincaid (#86, 6-4, 240) who had emerged as one of the best in the country in the early part of the season, but has been limited by a shoulder problem of late, while pro scouts will also be watching rangy LB Mohamoud Diabate (#3, 6-3, 230).