INDEPENDENCE BOWL (Shreveport); SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (8-4) vs. FLORIDA STATE (6-6) by 3; 1:30 PM ET; ESPN
After a bit of debate about whether FSU’s schedule actually earned them a bowl bid at 6-6, it appears we are ready to play some football. Southern Miss has been a solid mid-major football program for decades now. Without a doubt their top prospect and weekly performer is RB ITO SMITH #25. He’s short at 5’9, but has a sinewy muscled frame at 195 lbs. His quickness and determination to excel have made him a great collegian and a legit pro prospect. 2017 was his third straight season with over 1,000-yards rushing. He ran for 1321 this season at 5.7 ypc, while scoring 13 TD. He’s likely to be a 3rd Day draftee, but how high may hinge on this game, a scheduled appearance in his hometown Senior Bowl and the Combine. Their next best prospect may be Jr. WR KOREY ROBERTSON, who pulled down 72 receptions this season for over 1,00-yards and 11 TD. Others include, #15 ALLENZAE STAGGERS/WR, #78 DEAN FARRIOR/OG, #3 CORNELL ARMSTRONG/CB and #32 XAVIER THIGPEN/DE/ER, who is scheduled to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The Seminoles will start their new lives without HC JIMBO FISHER. FISHER and his staff got caught with their pants down this past season, when starting QB/FRANCOIS went down against Alabama in the season opener with a season ending knee injury. They were left with a true freshman at the helm behind a very mediocre OL. But their Defense stepped up big time to at least salvage a .500 season. Their top prospect here is S/DERWIN JAMES #3 who has already declared for the NFL Draft. JAMES is likely to be a Top 10 draftee after finishing his rehab season strong. In an injury recovery campaign for him he still had 47 tackles in their last 6 games with 2 INT and 7PD. He’s an elite playmaker and ball hawk. ER/DE JOSH SWEAT #9 has also declared for the 2018 Draft already. I also expect that DT/DERRICK NNADI #91 will have a solid chance to be a First Rounder in April. At 6’1/312 he’s a penetrating gap-shooter who disrupts the pocket continually. Also watch for #16 JACOB PUGH/OLB, #6 MATTHEW THOMAS/OB and #18 Ro’DERRICK HOSKINS LB. This could be a tight ballgame as the Seminoles try to adjust to JIMBO no longer being their leader, but their D is so athletic.
PINSTRIPE BOWL (Yankee Stadium); BOSTON COLLEGE (7-5) vs. IOWA (7-5) by 5; 5:15 PM ET; ESPN
The Eagles have made progress as a football program under HC STEVE ADDAZIO, who has always been known for his tenacious defenses. But this season BC showed some offensive spark, wth 5 of their seven wins coming when they scored over 30 points. The big weapon is their unanimous Frosh All-American RB/A.J. DILLON #2, who ran for over 1400 yards and scored 13 TD. When healthy QB/ANTHONY BROWN #13 (RSFR) provided a nice compliment to DILLON with both his arm and legs. It is hoped that DE/HAROLD LANDRY #7 is healthy for this one. He led the nation n Sacks in 2016 when he was healthy a full season. He basically missed the last month of the 2017 season with lower leg issues. When healthy he teams with Junior DE/ZACH ALLEN #2 to form one of the nation’s best DE combos in the country. ALLEN is not a sack artist, but plays a solid al around DE at 6’5, 275 lbs. BC’s two SENIOR CB both had solid senior seasons and deserve watching. They are #20 ISAAC YIADOM and #5 KAMRIN MOORE. IOWA almost always has a winning record and produces solidly coached players for the NFL. That seems especially true in the trenches and the secondary. This year is no exception. This Hawkeyes crew throttled Ohio Sate 55-24 at the start of November, and that game is probably the biggest single reason that the Buckeyes are not in the Final Four. AKRUM WADLEY/RB #25 is likely their top pro prospect. He topped 1,000-yards this season and has the speed to take it all the way to the house at any given time. But at 5’11/195, he’s not likely to hold up as a workhorse No.1 RB. SEAN WELSH #79 is their top OL prospect at OG. Like many Iowa OL he can also handle other spots along the OL in a pinch. But inside, he’s a solid Day 3 prospect. A couple of blue collar workers in the LB corps should be drafted and are likely to be highly productive in this Bowl game. Former walk-on JOSEY JEWELL is their MLB and is as smart and productive as any LB in the country. He 121 tackles in 11 games this past season. He recorded 7 double-digit tackles games.And he does not have to come out on passing downs. He had 2 INT and 11 PD. He surely deserves Top 100 prospect status. His LB mate BO BOWER #41 is another high FBI over achiever on that D. He was able to record 83 tackles in 2017. He may end up as an URFA but if so, will be quite a bargain or some NFL team as a Special Teamer and versatile back-up Pro LB. Keep your eye on #15 CB/JOSHUA JACKSON, who had a special 2017 season. The Junior had 7 INT, including 3 against Ohio State, and 18 PD. he also came up in support on run defense to record 47 tackles. If he comes out early, which he should, he’s a Top 50 Draft Pick. It may not be the most exhilarating game you will see, but it should be highly competitive with some excellent pro talent on display.
FOSTER FARMS BOWL (Santa Clara); 8:30 PM ET; FOX
ARIZONA (7-5) vs. PURDUE (6-6) by 3
Sorry to say it folks, but this is a pretty blah looking match-up. Both teams were hungry to go bowling this season, and they got the job done, just barely. Both teams have pretty good defenses. If Purdue is to win then their formula of ball control, field position and a stingy Defense must hold up against a pretty fast Wildcats squad. MLB JA’WHAUN BENTLEY #4 is Purdue’s leader on the field. He’s deadly against the run, but also drops well into coverage for his size (6’2/250). He gets plenty of quality help from #13 GLEN ROBINSON/DT and fellow LB TJ McCOLLUM #6, who is headed to the NFLPA game. The Offense is pretty young and doesn’t light up the scoreboard most games. ARIZONA is pretty much a one-man show with all deference to their roster. SOPH QB KHALIL HILL #14 came on as their starting QB as the season went on and ended up rushing for over 1300-yards and 12 TD. He will mix it up with a bit of throwing but his 94 completions and 9 TD/8 INT numbers should clearly indicate he’s heavy on the running side of the equation. A couple of seniors deserve some of your attention though. #78 JACOB ALSADEK/OG and #67 GERHARD de BEER/OT are huge men, who will be at the NFLPA game, and on D their top CB DAVID CRUIKSHANK #9 who is also headed to Pasadena in January. I guess I will assume that the Boilermakers will find a way to shadow HILL and somewhat contain him for the win. If he runs wild Purdue will be unable to keep up however.
TEXAS BOWL (Houston): MISSOURI (7-5) by 4 vs TEXAS (6-6); 9 PM ET; ESPN
A very interesting aspect of this contest is whether or not all of the Draft declared underclassmen will play and get their usual starters’ minutes. As often happens there is a house cleaning underway as “new” HC TOM. HERMAN completes his first season as boss, with an eye toward a Win, but most importantly toward his second season at the helm. $ of the Longhorns’ better players have already declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. They are as follows; P/MICHAEL DICKSON #13, CB/HOLTON HILL #5, S/DeSHON ELLIOTT #4 and OT/CONNOR WILLIAMS #55.To the best of my knowledge HILL, ELLIOTT and WILLIAMS are already at Performance Camps prepping for the Draft. DT/POONA FORD #95 is a senior ad bears watching. He may be a tad short, but he is stout and his coaches refer to him as a leader and an impact player. He gets a lot of penetration for an inside guy. Perhaps their best all-around athlete is LB/MALIK JEFFERSON #46,a junior. Whether or not he comes out early is unknown, but you can’t miss him since he’s likely to have his usual double-digit tackle numbers. MISSOURI is on a roll right now having finished the season with 6 straight Wins. They have good balance on both sides of the ball and some serous prospects to watch. Their QB is DREW LOCK #3, who represents a very strong run/pass option threat. #6 JA’MON MOORE is a serious pro potential WR. He has nice size (6’2/205) and can really stretch a secondary. he’s a smart wideout who responds well when his QB is extending plays. Their best defensive prospect is probably #16 MARCELL FRAZIER DE who is a serious pass-rush threat in the tradition of HARRIS/SAM/SMITH, etc. He’s a bit raw but is an excellent athlete. #38 ERIC BEISEL is a do it all LB, who never seems to hit empty on energy. I am finding this a tough one to predict since both teams are on the uptick. But I will go with MIZZOU despite it almost being a home game for Texas.