This week college football Bowlapalooza proceeds through teams that were runners-up in their respective conferences or simply just competitive. Towards the end of the week, we’ll even be treated to at least one game between two ranked teams. Below you’ll find information about each of the bowl games slated for the week as well as the main NFL prospects to watch.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects and enjoy the weekend.
A game centered around UCF’s offense facing Marshall’s defense, it’s fitting that there are a pair of prospects on either side. UCF’s Gabriel Davis has already announced that he’ll enter the draft, with this game servicing as his swan song. Davis is a 6’3”, 212-lb receiver who caught 72 passes for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season and is one of the more physical prospects at his position in this class. He looks like a solid mid-round player. Marshall will try to counter with cornerback Chris Jackson—one of the more experienced defenders on the team with a ton of passes defensed this season.
Another game featuring a strong defense vs. high-powered offense, Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense is extremely fun to see in action. The players who make it work include quarterback Cole McDonald and diminutive-but-quick receiver Cedric Byrd. Both look like lower-round or even undrafted players, but in the right system Byrd could be dangerous. BYU’s defense has two players who have the potential to be selected in the draft in beefy defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga and tight end Matt Bushman, who hasn’t yet declared but said he will after this Bowl game.
Louisiana Tech vs. Miami
Thursday, 4:00 PM Eastern, ESPN
Despite a disappointing season where they finished 6-6, Miami still has a decent handful of NFL prospects. That includes pass rusher Trevon Hill, who unfortunately chose to sit out the Bowl game. Linebacker Shaq Quarterman has great stopping power and instincts, but probably doesn’t have the speed to be a full-time starter in the league. Lousiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson, who has already declared for the draft, is one of the better ballhawks in college football and looks like a starting nickel corner in the league.
Pittsburgh vs. Eastern Michigan
Quick Lane Bowl
Thursday, 8:00 PM Eastern, ESPN
Both teams have above-average cornerback prospects, with Pittsburgh’s Dane Jackson and Eastern Michigan’s Kevin McGill. Both are 6’ or above and physical enough to play man coverage. McGill could end up being a better fit at safety in the NFL as he plays the ball really well in the air, and has five interceptions and 19 pass breakups in his past three seasons.
North Carolina vs. Temple
Friday, 12:00 PM Eastern, ABC
North Carolina’s prospects are all on the defensive side of the ball, including safety Myles Dorn and defensive tackle Jason Strowbridge, who will be participating in the Senior Bowl in January. Temple also sports an impact defender of their own in linebacker Shaun Bradley. If Bradley can test well at the combine, his draft stock could shoot up quickly, as he is a very solid tackler.
Michigan State vs Wake Forest
Friday, 3:20 PM Eastern, ESPN
Both teams sport what look like second-day defensive line and pass-rushing prospects. For Wake Forest, edge rusher Carlos Basham Jr. isn’t flashy on tape, but he has sneaky speed and at a listed 6’5” and 275 lbs, really neat size for the position. So far, he has the look of a second-rounder. For Michigan State, Kenny Willekes and Raequan Williams are elite run defenders, but their draft stock will depend on how much they can effect the pass. For his part, Willekes has nine sacks on the year.
No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Friday, 6:45 PM Eastern, ESPN
As usual, Oklahoma State specializes in offensive skill prospects and this year is no different. With receiver Tylan Wallace injured, running back Chuba Hubbard carries the offensive load. The draft-eligible sophomore leads the country in rush yards and has 20 touchdowns. The Texas A&M defense will need a big game from defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, a hugely disruptive three-tech defensive tackle, who has already declared.
Two teams that feature contrasting styles, USC’s offense is predicated on big pass plays delivered by their trio of elite receivers, including Michael Pittman Jr. The senior has dominant hands, jump-ball ability and has been one of the bigger risers of the college football season. Iowa, by contrast, relies on their balanced pro-style attack helmed by quarterback Nate Stanley. Despite low numbers, Stanley might get himself drafted based on a handful of complete performances played throughout his career.
Air Force vs. Washington State
Friday, 10:15 PM Eastern, ESPN
Washington State’s Anthony Gordon has been getting hype as the next Gardner Minshew II, mostly by virtue of playing for the same alma mater and being an accurate passer. It’s questionable if he’ll even enter the draft, but there are some decent traits to work with.