After plenty of college football bowl action the past few days, including the first round of the college football playoff, bowl season continues today with yet another slate of exciting match-ups. While quarterbacks, both draft-able and not, will take up a lot of the focus, it’s the offensive and defensive linemen that are reason enough to tune in to most of the games.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects and enjoy the weekend.
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
12:00 p.m. Eastern, ESPN
Most of the prospects in this game will be along the defensive line. Production seems to have eluded Hokies defensive tackle Ricky Walker this year, but his tape is much better than his stats would indicate. The Bearcats depend on their two senior defensive tackles, Marquise Copeland and Cortez Broughton. Copeland had more preseason hype, but Broughton actually is the better pro prospect and was the more productive of the two. Broughton will be participating in the East-West Shrine Game.
Stanford vs. Pittsburgh
2:00 p.m. Eastern, CBS
The Cardinal is usually known for their defense, but this year the prospects to know are mostly on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Bryce Love has had a down year, but he’s still an explosive runner. Tight end Kaden Smith is one of the best receivers at his position in the country, while wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside is an elite red-zone target. The Panthers will look to run the ball down Stanford’s throat with running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. They’ll be helped out by their center Alex Bookser.
Michigan State vs. Oregon
3:00 p.m. Eastern, FOX
Tackle Calvin Throckmorton provides Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with plenty of protection thanks to his elite strength. The Ducks also sport Jalen Jelks along the defensive line, who’s skill set is mostly centered on his ability to hold the edge against the run. Jelks will have his hands busy against LJ Scott, the Spartans’ bruising tailback.
No. 23 Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
3:45 p.m. Eastern, ESPN
Tigers quarterback Drew Lock still has this game and the Senior Bowl to prove he deserves to be a first-round NFL draft pick. His favorite targets are his speedy outside receiver Emanuel Hall and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who will sit out this game with an injury. It will be Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius’s job to keep up with Missouri’s offense, along with scat-back Justice Hill.
No. 22 Northwestern vs. No. 17 Utah
7:00 p.m. Eastern, FS1
Both teams rely on their top-ranked defenses to keep them competitive in games. The Utes are led by a pair of versatile linebackers, Chase Hansen and Cody Barton—but look for safety Marquise Blair. His speed and size is spectacular for a safety. Not many Wildcats players are draft-eligible, but Montre Hartage deserves much more praise as a shutdown college cornerback.
N.C. State vs. No. 19 Texas A&M
7:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN
Texas A&M sports multiple underclassman who, if they declare, could be among the best at their positions come draft time. Center Erik McCoy powered the Aggies’ resurgent running game, while tight end Jace Sternberger exploded on to the scene with more than 800 receiving yards. Sternberger might find himself in coverage against N.C. State middle linebacker Germaine Pratt, who might find it difficult to keep up with the speedy tight end. While the Wolfpack’s season has been a disappointment, seeing quarterback Ryan Finley connect with his favorite receiver Kelvin Harmon will be treat.