We are less than two-and-a-half months away from the return of college football; though that may seem like forever, it is right around the corner. As the countdown to kickoff continues to wind down, today, we will look at exciting matchups featuring prospects expected to enter the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kayshon Boutte vs. Alabama’s Defensive Backs
When the LSU Tigers and Crimson Tide meet on November 5, it will be primetime television as usual. Brian Kelly lucked up in his first year as head coach of the Tigers, getting to welcome Alabama to Death Valley, and he also got lucky inheriting one of the best wide receivers in Kayshon Boutte. Since Terrance Marshall decided to opt-out in November of the 2020 season, Boutte has been LSU’s go-to guy, and for good reason. He ended his first year grabbing 14 receptions for 308 yards (an SEC record) and three touchdowns. He led the Tigers in receiving yards as a true freshman and was on pace to repeat that before sustaining an injury against Kentucky that ended his season. On the other side of this matchup is perhaps the best secondary in the country. Safeties Jordan Battle and Demarco Hellams return alongside Brian Branch, Malachi Moore and Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry. Add in transfer cornerback Eli Ricks and the potential for one of the greatest secondaries of all time is there. Alabama’s length and speed are going to give Boutte problems and he has the ability to give problems right back.
CJ Stroud vs. Brandon Joseph
When the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes meet in Columbus to start their season, it will be fireworks. Heisman finalist CJ Stroud will lead Ohio State as he tries to join Cardale Jones as the only Buckeye quarterbacks to hoist the CFP trophy in January. After taking over for now-Chicago Bear Justin Fields last season, Stroud dominated defenses throwing for 4,435 yards with 44 touchdowns and only six interceptions. And he silenced any critics he still may have had in the Rose Bowl, throwing for an insane 573 yards and six touchdowns, despite losing his top two receivers. On the other side, Northwestern transfer Brandon Joseph will look to do what he did in the 2020 Big Ten Championship and stifle an Ohio State quarterback, only this time he will be a part of Marcus Freeman’s first campaign as head coach of Notre Dame. Joseph was arguably the best safety in football during the 2020 season, grabbing six interceptions despite only playing in nine games. Though his 2021 season left some scouts wanting more, his move to South Bend is fascinating, as many expect him to replace first-rounder Kyle Hamilton. Coming out of spring ball, Joseph has a lot of exciting rumors coming out of South Bend, and with him and Stroud leading their respective teams going into the matchup, both players have a chance to separate themselves from the pack on September 3.
Sean Tucker vs. Clemson’s Defensive Line
After breaking Syracuse’s single-season rushing record, Tucker returns as one of the best running backs in the nation. Last season was so dominant for him that he only failed to eclipse 100 rushing yards in three games. When the Orange and Tigers meet in October, he will be looking for a repeat performance of last season when he put up 157 yards. He will have a chance to play against the same defensive line as last year as the Tigers return everyone; the major difference this year, though, is the return of Bryan Breese. After injuring his Achilles early on during last season, the Tigers will welcome him back alongside Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry, who both chose to forego the draft and return. Despite the departure of Todd Bates, the Tigers will lean on their defensive line like the 2017-18 season that ended with Clemson on top of the hill after depending on Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins. Even with names like that, this year’s defensive line has the potential to be better, making this matchup so exciting. Expect an old-school physical game in Death Valley because that’s the way these two teams like it.
- Jun 24, 2022