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2022 College football, Week 11: Games and players to watch

Who should you be watching today?

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Good morning New York Giants fans!

Happy Saturday and welcome to Week 11 of the 2022 college football season. We’re just at the half-way point of the NFL season, but this is the home stretch of the college season. Not only are rivalry games starting to heat up, but the race for the College Football Playoffs has been absolutely wild over the last few weeks.

Georgia is back on top of the AP Top 25 after their 14-point win over previous number 1 ranked Tennessee. But if anything, that was restoring a bit of order to the chaos. The real upset came when 10th ranked LSU topped sixth-ranked Alabama. That win effectively made the two-loss LSU team spoiler and knocking Nick Saban’s squad out of the hunt for the playoffs. Making things even more hectic, unranked Notre Dame beat fourth-ranked Clemson 35-14, likely knocking them out of the playoffs as well.

As of this writing, the top four ranked teams are:

  1. Georgia
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan
  4. TCU

Will we see anymore upsets today? What will the college landscape look like after tonight is over?

(7) LSU at Arkansas

ESPN - noon

We’ve talked a fair bit about LSU already this year, and their squad is definitely worth watching. Brian Kelly seems to have (finally) hit his stride after stumbling out of the gate — Which wasn’t a great look considering the hype videos LSU put out in the off-season.

The Tigers have plenty of future NFL players on their roster and should be well represented on the first two days of the draft.

Instead, I want to take a moment and talk about Arkansas. The Giants showed a willingness to go off the beaten path in last year’s draft, and the Razorbacks haven’t gotten much discussion compared to the rest of the SEC.

We’ll start up front with the strength of Arkansas’ team: The offensive line. Center Ricky Stromberg will likely be one of the top centers in the upcoming draft and he’s certainly among the most experienced linemen coming out. Stromberg has started 41 games so far and he has solid size (6-foot-4, 315 pounds), athleticism, and football IQ for the position at the NFL level. Right guard Beaux Limmer, a red-shirt junior, has started 25 games over the last three seasons. He’s more athletically built than Stromberg at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, and Limmer generally plays with good technique and mechanics to minimize the impact of his height at the guard position.

Given how much Wink Martindale loves using DBs, Giants fans should probably also pay attention to S Jalen Catalon. Linebackers Drew Sanders and Bumper Pool (who’s a definite All-Name Team nominee) also bear watching as well.

Nebraska at (3) Michigan

ABC - 3:30 p.m.

The game between ninth-ranked Alabama and eleventh-ranked Ole Miss (CBS - 3:30pm) is certainly the bigger game on the schedule, and I don’t blame anyone who would rather watch that game. However, we haven’t talked much about Michigan yet this season.

Michigan spun up into a buzzsaw last year, powered by an absolutely ferocious defense. And while they don’t have talents like Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, or Dax Hill this year, they’re probably a more well-rounded squad overall.

Starting left tackle Ryan Hayes is slated to return to the lineup after missing last week with an injury. Hayes should be a riser over the course of the draft process thanks to his length (6-foot-7 with long arms) and background as a three sport athlete (football, basketball, and baseball) in high school. Linemate Olusegun Oluwatimi is another smart and highly experienced center who could interest the Giants in the middle rounds.

DT Mazi Smith will almost certainly garner plenty of attention over the next several months. He topped Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List” and has, well, freakish power and agility. He’s on record with 22 reps at 325 (not a typo), as well as a 33-inch vertical jump, 9-foot 4 12 inch broad jump. His 4.41-second short shuttle and 6.95-second 3-cone times would have been the fastest at the NFL Scouting Combine last year. He did all that at 6-foot-3, 337 pounds.

The most interesting potential matchup could be between Michigan CB D.J. Turner and Nebraska WR Trey Palmer.

Turner lacks elite size at 6-foot, 185 pounds, but he has certifiably elite athleticism. He was clocked on GPS with a 4.28-second 40-yard dash (topping out at 23.07 mph) and a 6.29-second 3-cone drill. Palmer, a transfer from LSU, has the speed to test Turner. Palmer is a high school track star who won state titles in the 100 and 200-meter dash, and also set a state record in the 200 meter dash.

(4) TCU at (18) Texas

ABC - 7:30 p.m.

Just like the previous time slot, I wouldn’t blame anyone who decides to watch the showdown between (6) Oregon and (25) Washington (Fox - 7:30 p.m.).

But I want to take the time to talk about TCU, who nobody expected to be in position to punch a ticket to the College Football Playoffs. Texas is building a great team and RB Bijan Robinson might be the most exciting runner to come out since Saquon Barkley. This should be a very good test for the Horned Frogs.

TCU’s best draft-eligible players also happen to play at positions of need (or at least interest) for the Giants.

The big question will likely be whether WR Quentin Johnston will play. Johnston has been dealing with a “lower body” injury and left last week’s game against Texas Tech. He’s widely regarded as TCU’s best player and might have the highest upside of any wide receiver in the 2023 draft. Johnston is tall, long, strong, fast, and surprisingly agile for his size. His presence would be huge for TCU’s offense, and he could be a player the Giants target in the draft process to compliment Wan’Dale Robinson.

Center Steve Avila is another big, powerful, smart, experienced, and versatile lineman. The Giants would likely look at him as a center prospect, but he also has the ability to line up at guard. The Giants obviously favor versatility in their offensive linemen, and Avila’s ability to man all three iOL positions would increase his value.

Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson is an undersized by very athletic cornerback with experience in both man and zone schemes. Despite his size (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) he’s at home in press-man coverage and doesn’t back down from bigger receivers. He has plenty of quickness and agility to get — and stay — in phase with receivers throughout their routes, as well as slam the window shut in off coverage. His size (or lack thereof) will likely make NFL evaluators label him a “slot corner only” at the next level.

Fellow CB Noah Daniels has the size, athleticism, and physicality to stay on the outside at the NFL level. He’s much closer to the NFL’s archetype at 6-foot, 195 pounds and reportedly runs a 40-yard dash in the low 4.4’s. Daniels has the fluidity to stay with receivers in man coverage, as well as the quickness to recover if necessary.

His big question — and the reason why he might slip in the draft — is with regards to health. Daniels lost his 2019 season to a shoulder injury and all but four games of his 2020 season to a torn ACL. He has starting ability, and Daniels could become a steal for the right team.

Other games to watch

  • (9) Alabama at (11) Ole Miss (CBS - 3:30 p.m.)
  • (22) UCF at (17) Tulane (ESPN2 - 3:30 p.m.)
  • (25) Washington at (6) Oregon (Fox - 7 p.m.)
  • (19) Kansas State at Baylor (FS1 - 7 p.m.)
  • (23) Florida State at Syracuse (ACC Network - 8 p.m.)
  • Stanford at (13) Utah (ESPN - 9 p.m.)
  • Arizona at (12) UCLA (Fox - 10 p.m.)