CFB Week 1: Player Matchup Preview

You had your starter last week. Now it’s time for the mains. Week 0 was a tasty offering to whet the appetite, but College Football has served up a juicy steak in the form of a star-studded week 1.

Considering college teams’ seasons can live or die on one result, the heavy-weight matchups in Week 1 could have profound implications.

Not only that, but on an individual basis, NFL draft prospects will, in some cases, face their most significant test straight out of the gate. Here are four matchups we will keep our eye on come the weekend.

Michael Mayer v Tanner McCalister

Michael Mayer is considered one of college football’s most complete tight ends. He will likely be a Day 1 selection come next year’s draft, and he will want a strong showing against Ohio State to add to his resume. It will be interesting to see how the Fighting Irish uses Mayer, considering he is their primary X-factor on offense.

That versatility makes it difficult to predict who will likely be tasked with defending Mayer most often for the Buckeyes. PFF shows that Mayer spent nearly 50% of his snaps in the slot, so I’ve gone for Oklahoma State transfer Tanner McCalister. 

McCalister was brought in with a particular role for Jim Knowles’s defense. He will play the nickelback position, a spot growing in importance for NFL teams. Being a success in the Big 12 is one thing but McCalister will be keen to show he can be a key piece for the Buckeyes, and Mayer will be a stern test first up.

Kenny McIntosh v Noah Sewell

Much like at Alabama, Georgia running backs must wait their turn. Kenny McIntosh has been no different and has seen his path to a starting job blocked by the likes of Zamir White and James Cook.

Now, he will enter 2022 as the main back along with Kendall Milton. With question marks about the ceiling of QB Stetson Bennett the running game will be the platform on which the Bulldogs offense will be built. McIntosh will look to dominate the Oregon defensive line from the start.

Lining up opposite will be Noah Sewell. The jury appears to be out on Sewell. At 6’2, 253lbs, Sewell is a thumping linebacker who shows good athleticism but some factions believe his surname is pushing some of the hype.

If he plays at his best, the Ducks should have a formidable duo, pairing him with former 5-star Justin Flowe. McIntosh will be a threat as a runner and receiver and should give us a good idea of Sewell’s all-around ability.

Clark Phillips III v Xzavier Henderson

Clark Phillips had an impressive 2021 for Utah. The cornerback contributed two interceptions and nine pass breakups last year. His final coverage grade with PFF was 76.4. Most scouts have been bullish about his ability in pre-season scouting.

The biggest knock on Phillips will be his size. He is listed at a generous 5’10; some teams will have that as a negative. In recent drafts, the likes of Asante Samuel have still produced in the NFL despite a more diminutive stature.

With that in mind, each week Phillips faces a taller receiver it will be worth a look. Florida’s receiving room is relatively inexperienced, but Xzavier Henderson appears to be the player most likely to be the primary target.

The 6’3 receiver will likely take snaps against Phillips and will look to take advantage of the height differential. He only had 26 targets in 2022, but you can expect his workload to increase as the Gators try to showcase QB Anthony Richardson’s talents.

Robert Scott Jr v BJ Ojulari

Sunday night brings us another fantastic game between Florida State and LSU. Robert Scott Jr will line up at left tackle for the Seminoles and will look to show improvement after an up and down 2021.

Scott gave up 25 pressures, including 7 sacks last year. Three of those came in a rough outing against Louisville. That said, he showed steady improvement towards the end of the year and has prototypical size with a 6’5, 334lbs frame. It was enough to land him on Dane Brugler’s top 5 underclassmen tackles going into this season.

Scott was solid vs Duquesne last week, but LSU will be a different kettle of fish. The Tigers boast an impressive defensive front on the interior and on the edge. Defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy will look to occupy blockers and allow the pass-rushing tandem of Ali Gaye and BJ Ojulari to attack the tackles one-on-one.

Ojulari contributed eight sacks and 13 hits in 2021 and will be looking to follow in brother Azeez’s footsteps becoming an early-round selection come April next year.

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at