Week 2 of the college football campaign welcomed plenty of surprises and standout performances from the nation’s elite. Texas upset Alabama in the must-watch showdown of the weekend and the Week 3 schedule promises a repeat performance of some kind.
Several ascending college football talents will square off head-to-head. Iron sharpens iron, and we’ve identified three player-vs-player matchups worth monitoring this weekend in college football.
NORTH CAROLINA QB DRAKE MAYE VS. MINNESOTA SAF TYLER NUBIN
Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye entered the 2023 college football campaign with heightened expectations. Maye has long been anointed as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2024 class behind USC’s Caleb Williams. The honest truth is that Maye has been solid, but unspectacular. Through two contests, Maye has thrown for two touchdowns and two interceptions. In Week 2, Maye was unable to separate his Tar Heels from underdog Appalachian State, who shockingly took North Carolina to double overtime.
There’s upset potential looming against Minnesota this weekend. The stingy Golden Gophers defense has allowed a combined 16 points in back-to-back victories over Nebraska and Eastern Michigan. Starting safety Tyler Nubin has been an early-season breakout candidate after recording two interceptions against the Cornhuskers. Nubin will be roaming the defensive backfield while hoping to bait Maye into a mistake. Nubin’s current form could have him flirting with top-64 potential in the 2024 NFL Draft.
ILLINOIS DT JER’ZHAN NEWTON VS. PENN STATE C HUNTER NOURZAD
Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton is one of the most dominant interior linemen in college football. Newton‘s 2023 campaign is off to an outstanding start. The Saint Petersburg, Florida native recorded 2.0 sacks in a 34-23 loss to Kansas last weekend.
Newton is an athletic interior defensive lineman with three-down potential. Combing through his tape highlights flashes of dominance versus the run and pass. That versatility is going to make Newton an extremely appetizing prospect come April.
The matchup with Penn State starting center Hunter Nourzad is intriguing. Nourzad moved from guard to center this season to help the Nittany Lions replace Juice Scruggs, who was a pre-draft riser and was ultimately selected by the Houston Texans in the second round. Nourzad, who was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last year after making eight starts, can enjoy a similar climb up the ranks with a solid campaign.
TENNESSEE QB JOE MILTON III VS. FLORIDA DEFENSE
The Week 3 college football schedule is filled with clunkers. The impending showdown between the 11th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers and their arch-rival Florida Gators is by far the most exciting matchup. Both of these programs are far removed from their glory years, but the nostalgia is indescribable.
The Volunteers were hoping for quarterback Joe Milton III to pick up where Hendon Hooker left off, but that hasn’t exactly been the case. Milton has thrown for 429 yards and four touchdowns through two contests, but Hooker’s ability to take over a game was different. Tennessee disappointingly let Austin Peay hang around last weekend.
Milton will be tested versus this Florida defense. Cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. is a potential breakout candidate in the 2024 draft class. Marshall Jr. is a long, rangy cover man with terrific instincts. Defensive end Princely Umanmielen is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the SEC. Umanmielen recorded his first sack of the season against McNeese State last week. The likes of Marshall Jr. and Umanmielen will be eager to get after Milton in the passing game.
- Sep 29, 2023
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