This is the day that the rest of college football has been leading up to—specifically, the College Football Semifinals that will decide which teams will play for a National Championship. For those of us who follow the draft, though, it may just be another chance to watch some 2019 NFL prospects take the field for the final time in their careers. Below you’ll find information about each of the bowl games slated for today as well as the main NFL prospects to keep an eye on.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects and enjoy the weekend.
No. 10 Florida vs. no. 7 Michigan
12:00 p.m. Eastern, ESPN
Two teams with elite defenses but inconsistent offenses, The Gators and Wolverines are similar teams on paper and on the field. Florida’s left tackle Jawaan Taylor has become a riser as more analysts watch his tape, but the Gators will only go as far as their defense. On the back end, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a strong safety with some degree of versatility as a “big nickel” linebacker. Pass rusher Jachai Polite is an undersized athletic freak that will test off the charts come February. Michigan’s Rashan Gary is another athletic freak, who can play anywhere on the defensive line, but may be most suited as a penetrating defensive tackle. Running-mate Chase Winovich may be more suited to a SAM linebacker role himself, due to be undersized as a defensive end. Wolverine linebacker Devin Bush is slightly undersized for a middle linebacker, but doesn’t play like it. You’ll see him make tackles all over the field.
South Carolina vs. Virginia
12:00 p.m. Eastern, ABC
The Gamecocks duo at wide receiver, Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards have started to gel in recent weeks. Samuel has come back from injury and demonstrated why he’s been known by scouts as a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Containing them will be the Cavaliers’ Juan Thornhill, a safety with corner-like cover skills. He’s come down with five interceptions this year.
Arkansas State vs. Nevada
9:00 p.m. Eastern, CBSSN
This particular bowl game will be centered around a match-up of two lower-round prospects. The Wolf Pack’s Malik Reed is undersized on the edge, but he has a sack in almost every game he’s played in this season. Staring across from him will be Red Wolves’ senior tackle Lanard Bonner, an East-West Shrine Game invitee.
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. no. 2 Clemson
4:00 p.m. Eastern, ESPN
Both teams are littered with defensive prospects. The Tigers’ entire defensive line is made up of high-level picks, with tackles Dexter Lawrence (who will not be playing due to a failed drug test), Christian Wilkins and defensive end Clelin Ferrell. Somewhat surprisingly, Tigers cornerback Trayvon Mullen may be the best defensive prospect on the field. The Fighting Irish bring NFL talent at all three levels of the defense, including at defensive tackle with Jerry Tillery. Tillery was a threat to rush the passer this season and had eight sacks to show for it. Cornerback Julian Love is one of the more physical corners in the nation and had 15 pass break-ups (!!) this year.
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. no. 1 Alabama
8:00 p.m. Eastern, ESPN
It’ll be strength-against-strength in this year’s Orange Bowl. Few teams have been able to score on the Crimson Tide defense because they’re stacked from top to bottom. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is sure to be a top-five pick, while his running mate Raekwon Davis won’t be far behind. On the back end, Deionte Thompson has rare center-field ability at safety. Offensively, the team brings left tackle Jonah Williams and tight end Irv Smith Jr. to the table—two players ranked among the best at their positions. The Sooners are all about offense, with deep threat Marquise Brown and their guards Dru Samia and Ben Powers.