Who to watch in college football: Thanksgiving Special!!

November 25, 2022

#3 MICHIGAN (11-0) at #2 OHIO STATE (11-0); NOON ET; FOX … Okay, so its not quite THE game of the year in college football, buts its close as unbeaten and third ranked Michigan plays at unbeaten and 2nd ranked Ohio State play for the Big Ten East spot in the conference championship game next weekend. They are also could be very well playing for one of the 4 CFP playoff spots as the loser on Saturday is not guaranteed a slot in the national championship playoff round (more on the below.) And national playoff picture aside there are also a number of intriguing draft-related questions that will at least be asked on Saturday. Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (#7, 6-3, 220), of course is one of the top 2-3 prospects at the position for the upcoming draft. And while he has continued to pile up decent numbers of late, he has struggled to complete 60% of his passes much of this month. There is also a huge question whether Buckeyes’ star OSU WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (#11, 6-0, 200) plays at all. Smith-Njigba was considered to be a top ten prospect heading into the season, but hasn’t played much this fall because of a lingering hamstring injury. That hasn’t the Buckeyes’ offense much as sophomores Marvin Harrison (#18, 6-3, 205) and Emeka Egbuka (#2, 6-1, 205), along with veteran Julian Fleming (#4, 6-1, 205), have more than picked up the pace, although the former two won’t be draft eligible until next year. There is also a big question who runs the ball tomorrow in Columbus as the OSU RB duo of sophomore Treveyon Henderson (#32, 5-10, 215) and veteran Miyan Williams (#3, 5-8, 225), as well as star Michigan back Blake Corum (#2, 5-8, 210) have all been dinged of late.

Whoever does ultimately carry the ball for the Buckeyes will work behind arguably the top OT combination in the country in LT Paris Johnson (#77, 6-5, 310) and massive RT Dawand Jones (#79, 6-7, 350). Johnson is considered to be another OSU top 15 candidate, while Jones isn’t all that far behind. The Ohio State OL also features C Luke Wypler (#53, 6-3, 300), but star OG Matt Jones (#55, 6-3, 315) is questionable. Meanwhile, other OSU players to watch on the other side of the ball include DE Zach Harrison (#9, 6-6, 270), safety Ronnie Hickman (#14, 6-1, 205), and CBs Cameron Brown (#26, 6-0, 190) and CB Denzel Burke (#5, 6-0, 195), although the latter also isn’t draft eligible this year.

Unlike the Buckeyes, the Wolverines don’t have anyone who is a lock to be an opening round pick this year as the team is very young. However, like the Buckeyes Michigan has a typical Big Ten OL anchored by talented C Olu Oluwatimi (#55, 6-3, 310), OG Zac Zinter (#65, 6-5, 315) and LT Ryan Hayes (#76, 6-6, 305), each of who could get some second-day interest. At the same time WR Ronnie Bell (#8, 6-0, 190) and NT Mazi Smith (#58, 6-3, 335) are mid-round candidates. In fact, rising DE Mike Morris (#90, 6-5, 290) could be the Wolverines best prospect for 2023, but he’s another player is questionable for this week, but if he does the ground could tilt when he goes up against the OSU OTs.

NOTRE DAME (8-3) at #6 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (10-1); 7:30 PM ET; ABC … There is a growing buzz around college football that the CFP playoff committee could be hard-pressed to justify putting a one-loss team like the loser in tomorrow’s Ohio State-Michigan that didn’t even play in its conference championship game over a one-loss conference champions. And that makes tomorrow night’s traditional rivalry game against Notre Dame especially important for Southern Cal which likely would be first in line of the one-loss conference champions IF they can run the table these last two weeks. And for those that haven’t seen much of the Trojans this fall, they have a potential top 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, but he has electric speed and quickness when healthy. 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).

Notre Dame has rebounded nicely after losing their first three games of the season by winning their last 8 that included a rather emphatic trouncing of previously unbeaten Clemson. And the Irish have at least a couple of solid first round prospects in star TE Michael Mayer (#87, 6-5, 265), arguably the best player in the country at the position with a top 15 grade, while ER Ike Foskey (#7, 6-5, 265), who has 9.5 sacks this fall, isn’t alll that far behind. In fact, the Irish could conceivably have a third opening round prospect in Brandon Joseph (#16, 6-1, 200), a two-time All-American at Northwestern who transferred across the state line and leads the Irish defense along with veteran CB Cam Hart (#5, 6-2, 195). At the same time, C/G Jarrett Patterson (#55, 6-4, 310) is a second-day candidate who is generally considered to be one of the top 2-3 C prospects this year, although he’ll be at OG if he is able to suit up against the Trojans.