While the top 25 college football schedule this weekend isn't worth getting overly excited about, there are good matchups for some of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft.
When it’s all said and done, there’s a case the three quarterbacks listed here will be QB1, QB2 and QB3 in April. They all have opportunities in Week 12 to play against some stout defenses to add to their already impressive resumes.
Let’s take a look at three of the key quarterback matchups in Week 12 of the college football schedule.
3 COLLEGE QB MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Drake Maye vs. Clemson Defense
North Carolina QB Drake Maye is having a tremendous junior season for the Tar Heels. With just a few games left on the schedule before making a decision on the NFL Draft, he’ll get another shot at proving himself against a Clemson Tigers defense loaded with future NFL players.
Maye and the Tar Heels will head into Memorial Stadium this Saturday looking to improve to 9-2 on the season. He is looking to separate himself from Caleb Williams in the QB1 conversation.
Maye is coming off a huge double-overtime win against Duke in which he threw for 342 yards and scored three times in the 47-45 shootout.
Despite Clemson’s fall from one of college football's best teams, the Tigers still hold opposing offenses to 21.2 points per game. Maye has yet to play many top defenses this season, so adding good tape against a defense showcasing NFL-caliber players on it will go a long way.
As a fan of all these top quarterback prospects, I’m excited to watch Maye head on the road in a tough environment and continue to build on his impressive 2023 season.
Caleb Williams vs. UCLA Defense
Whether you have Maye or Williams as QB1 right now is all based on personal preference. Coming into the year, Williams had the consensus QB1 tag. Still, with Maye’s year and some struggles with finding some consistency for Williams, the conversation has gotten much closer than many expected.
Williams can silence a lot of the critics this week with a good outing against a UCLA defense that has played well in 2023. While there’s still no denying the natural talent and traits Williams possesses, this is a prime opportunity to show strides in how he’s dealing with pressure from the pocket and continue to be one of the best off-schedule quarterbacks in this draft class.
The Bruins' defense will put consistent pressure on Williams and the USC offense. Projected first-round pick Laiatu Latu will be an issue for Williams and the USC offensive line. Latu has 12 sacks and lives in the opponent's backfield.
Despite some issues with consistency and trying to do too much, Williams can put a lot of those concerns to rest with a good showing against one of college football’s best defenses.
Michael Penix Jr. vs. Oregon State Defense
With Maye and Willimas dueling it out to be the first quarterback drafted, Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. is in a similar battle with Oregon QB Bo Nix, LSU QB Jayden Daniels and Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy to be the third quarterback drafted.
Penix is making his case to win that title, leading the Washington Huskies to an undefeated 10-0 record. He has had a tremendous season so far, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 3,537 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Penix and the Huskies have two tough games to close out the season, and it starts this week with No. 11 Oregon State. The Beavers' defense has found its stride during the past six games, holding opposing offenses to just 22.3 points per game.
Penix is just a few weeks removed from lighting up a tough Utah defense but will get another opportunity this week to separate himself from the pack with another big game against a respected defense.
Penix has outdueled every top quarterback he’s faced head-to-head this season (Williams and Nix). However, this weekend is his opportunity to put up another strong performance against a defense with the ability to make life difficult on the Huskies quarterback.