Bowl Fest Dec. 31, 2018

By | December 30, 2018

The first hundred or so Bowl games are in the books… thank goodness. I am finding the new phenomenon of players leaving their teams, and heading for Performance Camps to prepare for the Draft, more annoying than I originally thought it would be. I went to Orlando last night to the Camping World Bowl game. It was an entertaining game, and as a transplanted New Englander, my rooting interest was high for Syracuse, since they were the Northeast’s most successful D1 team when I was growing up. But clearly, the WVU Offense was severely hindered by the absence of one Will Grier, QB for the Mountaineers. I don’t think I like this new trend much at all.
Now, on to the New Year’s Eve Day games on Monday, December 31st.

MILITARY BOWL NAVY-MARINE CORPS MEMORIAL STADIUM, ANNAPOLIS, MD
NOON/ET ESPN CINCINNATI (10-2) vs. VIRGINIA TECH (6-6)
The Bearcats, under HC Luke Fickell, were one of the surprise teams in the tough AAC, with their double-digit Win total this season. They have a nice diverse Offense, but it was their defense which keyed many of their Wins. The D allowed 10, or fewer, points in 5 games this past season, including 2 shutouts, but their Offense was not too shabby either, scoring over 30 points in 7 games. Though not Draft eligible, their top RB MICHAEL WARREN, #3, developed into a major weapon. This team has developed nicely in the short time HC Fickell has been in charge, (2 years). They went 4-8 in his first year, in 2017.

BEARCAT pro prospects include:
#1 KAHLIL LEWIS 6-0/195 WR
#83 JOSIAH DEGUARA TE 6-3/243 (JR)
#75 CHRIS FERGUSON OT 6-5/303
#70 DINO BOYD OT 6-4/300
#56 KYLE TROUT OG 6-6/318
#51 KIMONI FITZ DE 6-3/257
#96 CORTEZ BROUGHTON DT 6-2/290 SHRINE GAME
#44 MARQUISE COPELAND DT 6-2/287 GRIDIRON SHOWCASE
#11 BRYAN WRIGHT ILB 6-3/235 (JR)
#32 JAMES WIGGINS FS 6-0/202 (RSo)

VIRGINIA TECH had to reschedule a 12th game, (lost to hurricane season), to beat Marshall, and become bowl eligible. A big blow was the loss of soph starting QB JOSH JACKSON, without whom the team went into a 4-game losing stretch to start the second half of their 2018 schedule. The best news for Hokies fans should be the solid freshman class, which saw lots of playing time in 2018. Combine them with a return of JACKSON, hopefully, and 2019 could be a big bounce back campaign. For right now though, HC JUSTIN FUENTE would settle for a bowl win over Cincy, but I don’t see that happening.

HOKIE prospects to watch include:
#32 STEVEN PEOPLES RB 5-9/222
#61 KYLE CHUNG OG 6-3/310
#74 BRAXTON PFAFF OG 6-5/315
#69 YOSUAH NIJMAN OT 6-7/314 INJ NFLPA BOWL
#8 RICKY WALKER DT 6-2/300 SHRINE GAME
#99 VINNY MIHOTA DT 6-5/297
#21 REGGIE FLOYD SS 6-0/222 (JR)

—————————————————

SUN BOWL Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
2PM/ET CBS STANFORD (8-4) vs PITTSBURGH (7-6)
This game is a battle of teams who both surprised with their 2018 seasons. STANFORD was expected to challenge for the PAC-10 North, but fell well short of those expectations. A big factor in their 4-loss season was the absence of star RB BRYCE LOVE, who missed more time than he spent actually playing, because of an ankle area injury, which actually started in 2017. It was eerily similar to the final season of a guy named McCaffrey in 2016. LOVE is skipping this contest, hoping to get healthy for the Senior Bowl in late January. Watch the play of their talented and deep TE corps, not to mention WR ARCEGA-WHITESIDE, #19. However, the biggest surprise for the Cardinal, perhaps, was their Defense, which clearly under achieved. In 5 games, they allowed over 30 points, losing 3 of those games. They have the horses to handle PITT, including Draft eligible QB KJ COSTELLO, #3, who is a RSo. This big guy can sling the ball and is still improving.

CARDINAL pro prospects include:
#3 K.J. COSTELLO QB 6-5/215 (RSo)
#22 CAMERON SCARLETT RB 6-1/216 (JR)
#6 REAGAN WILLIAMS FB 6-3/220
#19 J.J. ARCEGA-WHITESIDE WR 6-3/225 (JR)
#2 TRENTON IRWIN WR 6-2/204 NFLPA BOWL
#82 KADEN SMITH TE 6-5/252 (RSo) INJ
#75 A.T. HALL OT 6-5/299
#71 BRANDON FANAIKA OG 6-3/315
#73 JESSE BURKETT C 6-4/300 SHRINE GAME
#20 BOBBY OKEREKE ILB 6-3/234 SR BOWL/NFLPA BOWL
#32 JOEY ALFIERI OLB 6-3/239
#13 ALIJAH HOLDER CB 6-2/188 NFLPA BOWL
#5 FRANK BUNCOM FS 6-2/206 (JR)
#14 JAKE BAILEY P 6-2/202 SR BOWL/NFLPA BOWL

PITT surprised a lot of folks when they went on a 4-game winning streak, starting with an upset of Duke, back on Oct. 27th, but they are now coming off of two season ending losses to MIAMI and Clemson. As you can see below, they are not shy on talent, but do lack a little thing called consistency. If their OL gets their act together they have a really good RB tandem in OLLISON #37 and HALL #22. Just before that winning streak, they almost upset Notre Dame in a 14-19 contest. PITT will have to be on top of their game to beat Stanford, but if the Cardinal sleepwalks through this contest, they could be in trouble.

PANTHER pro prospects include:
#30 QADREE OLLISON RB 6-2/225 SHRINE GAME
#22 DARRIN HALL RB 5-11/225 SHRINE GAME
#35 GEORGE ASTON FB 6-0/240 NFLPA BOWL
#2 MAURICE FFRENCH WR 5-11/190 (JR)
#78 ALEX BOOKSER OG 6-6/315 SHRINE GAME
#66 MIKE HERNDON OG 6-4/310
#8 DEWAYNE HENDRIX DE 6-4/265
#17 RASHAD WEAVER DE 6-5/260 (RSo)
#23 OLUWASEUN IDOWU OLB 6-0/230
#25 ELIJAH ZEISE OLB 6-2/240
#3 DAMAR HAMLIN FS 6-1/195 (JR)

__________________________________

REDBOX BOWL Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CAL
3PM/ET FOX MICHIGAN STATE (7-5) vs OREGON (8-4)
Going into the 2018 season, I thought a young, but talented, Spartans team would be a 10 Win team, and perhaps challenge for the Big Ten East title, after a 2017 campaign at 10-3, with 19 starters returning. However, lots went wrong for the team. Perhaps the biggest surprise, was the regression of QB BRIAN LEWERKE, #14, who was a major force in 2017. Half of their 12 game schedule saw the Spartans score less than 20-points, while their Defense was holding their own, only allowing more than 30 points only once.

SPARTAN draft prospects to watch include:
#14 BRIAN LEWERKE QB 6-3/220 (JR-RETURNING) INJ
#3 L.J. SCOTT RB 6-1/225 (JR-DECLARED) INJ SR BOWL
#25 DARRELL STEWART WR 6-2/217 (JR)
#81 MATT SOKOL TE 6-6/260 SHRINE GAME
#48 KENNY WILLEKES DE 6-4/260 (JR)
#99 RAEQUAN WILLIAMS DT 6-4/300 (JR-RETURNING)
#72 MIKE PANASIUK DT 6-4/285 (JR-RETURNING)
#35 JOE BACHIE ILB 6-2/238 (JR)
#5 ANDREW DOWELL OLB 6-1/225
#27 KHARI WILLIS SS 6-0/215 SR BOWL/NFLPA BOWL
#6 DAVID DOWELL FS 6-1/196 (JR)

The DUCKS did about what many expected in their first year under new HC MARIO CRISTOBAL, coming off of a 7-6 season. Big news for the Ducks, and football fans, is the announcement this week that JR QB JUSTIN HERBERT, #10, who is ranked by most Draftniks as the next top QB for the NFL Draft, will return to college for his senior season in 2019. The biggest factor in that decision is his desire to play with his younger brother, who is coming to Oregon as a frosh TE next season. OREGON is a nicely balanced team with weapons on both sides of the ball. HERBERT has a nice group of receivers to throw to (see below), and a versatile RB stable. I truly expect this to be a most entertaining game, and a scout’s delight. I have few questions about their O, but their D has left a bit to be desired, getting pushed around by big, physical teams, and the Spartans, under HC DANTONIO, play smash-mouth football. For those not familiar with the Spartans style of play, be prepared for some smash-mouth, borderline dirty football.

DUCK pro prospects include:
#10 JUSTIN HERBERT QB 6-6/233 (JR-RETURNING) INJ
#13 DILLON MITCHELL WR 6-2/189 (JR)
#27 JACOB BREELAND TE 6-5/248 (JR)
#85 KANO DILLON TE 6-5/265 INJ SHRINE GAME
#54 CALVIN THROCKMORTON 6-5/318 OT (JR-RETURNING)
#66 BRADY AIELLO OT 6-7/310 (JR)
#75 DALLAS WARMACK OG 6-2/328 (JR)
#97 JALEN JELKS DE 6-6/245 INJ SR BOWL
#35 TROY DYE ILB 6-4/224 (JR)
#11 JUSTIN HOLLINS OLB 6-5/242
#7 UGO AMADI FS 5-10/201

PIGSKIN & LP