I’m going to cover the “other” Bowls for Saturday, leading up to the Final 4 games later in the day.
PEACH BOWL Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, GA
Noon/ET ESPN FLORIDA (9-3) vs. MICHIGAN (10-2)
The Wolverines come into this game with that, all too familiar, bad taste in their mouths of a loss to Ohio State, in their Big Ten finale. HARBAUGH is still winless in that series, and will have his troops whipped into a frenzy. Two key defenders will be missing for Michigan, in DE RASHAN GARY to NFL Draft prep, and LB DEVIN BUSH to a lingering injury. They are both Top 50 Draft prospects and coming out early. RB KARAN HIGDON, who will be playing in the SR BOWL, will also be missing to focus on NFL Draft prep, as will OT JUWANN BUSHELL-BEATTY, who will be playing in the SHRINE GAME, but whose reason for deciding not to play in the PEACH BOWL is unclear at this time. To my knowledge, the rest of the Wolverines will be playing. This team plays ball control Offense, and aggressive Defense. It should be noted that their only 2 losses came at the hands of Top 10 teams, in Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Wolverine draft prospects include:
#83 ZACH GENTRY TE 6’8/262 JR
#15 CHASE WINOVICH DE/ER 6’3/255 SR BOWL
#90 BRYAN MONE DT 6’4/320
#24 LAVERT HILL CB 5’11/181 JR
#22 DAVID LONG CB 5’11/187 JR
#14 JOSH METELLUS SS 6’0/204 JR
#23 TYREE KINNEL FS 5’11/201 SHRINE
Florida looked to be lost in space in Fall 2017, when the program parted ways with HC Jim McElwain. They lured former MEYER OC, DAN MULLEN, back to the Swamp, and he took (basically) McElwain’s players, and jumped from 4-7 to 9-3. Gators fans are excited and optimistic that MULLEN will put them in perennial SEC double-digit win mode, and I agree. Florida is ripe with young football prospects, and if MULLEN can recruit the cream of the crop, just in-state, he’ll win most Saturdays. He has already transformed QB FELEIPE FRANKS, #13, from a lost puppy, into a solid, if erratic, double threat QB. They can run and pass for a balanced O, and the D has a swarming front, and an elite DB group. I am not aware of any missing player defections at this point.
Gators prospects to watch include:
#25 JORDAN SCARLETT RB 5’10/215 JR
#89 TYRIE CLEVELAND WR 6’2/205 JR
#73 MARTEZ IVEY OT/G 6’5/315
#65 JAWAAN TAYLOR OT 6’5/340 JR
#92 JABARI ZUNIGA DE 6’4 257 JR
#96 CECE JEFFERSON DE 6’1/242
#99 JACHAI POLITE ER/DE 6’2/260 JR
#11 VOSEAN JOSEPH LB 6’1/226 JR
#33 DAVID REESE LB 6’0/240 JR
#23 CHAUNCY GARDNER-JOHNSON DB 6’0/207 JR DECLARED
BELK BOWL Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC
NOON/ET ABC SOUTH CAROLINA (7-5) vs VIRGINIA (7-5)
Logic would tell me that even though the Gamecocks are an SEC team, this game will finish well below the Peach Bowl in the tv rankings, in a competing time slot.
South Carolina has lost too many close games to ranked opponents, but overall, HC Will Muschamp has done a solid job since taking over a sagging program in STEVE SPURRIER’s last few seasons. Injuries hurt on a weekly basis. The GAMECOCKS top weapon, and highest ranked prospect, will not play in this game. WR/RS DEEBO SAMUEL is already prepping for the NFL Draft.
Top Gamecocks prospects include:
#19 JAKE BENTLEY QB 6’4/225 JR
#89 BRYAN EDWARDS WR 6’3/215 JR
#78 ZACK BAILEY OG 6’5/310 INJ SHRINE
#74 DENNIS DALEY OT 6’5/310 SR BOWL
#3 JAVON KINLAW DT 6’5/305 JR
#4 BRYSON ALLEN-WILLIAMS LB 6’1/230
#9 KEISEAN NIXON CB 5’10/195 SHRINE
#16 RASHAD FENTON CB 5’11/185 SHRINE
#22 STEVEN MONTAC S 5-10/190
VIRGINIA was one of the pleasant surprise teams in the country this past season. A 6-7 record in 2017 turned into 7-5 this year, and the team looked vastly improved, until it ran out of gas and lost it’s last two games to the ACC TECH’s. A key to the contest will be which QB BRYCE PERKINS, #3, plays like. When he’s on, he’s a dangerous run/pass threat, but a turnover machine, when he’s not. Which guy shows up?
Other Cavalier prospects include:
#4 OLAMIDE ZACCHEAUS WR/RS 5’8/190
#10 JORDAN ELLIS RB 5’10/215 SHRINE
#46 EVAN BUTTS TE 6’4/250
#94 DYLAN THOMPSON DT 6’5/295
#13 CHRIS PEACE LB 6’2/245
#34 BRYCE HALL CB 6’1/200 JR
#21 JUAN THORNHILL FS 6’0/200 SR BOWL
ARIZONA BOWL ARIZONA STADIUM TUSCON, AZ
1:15PM/ET CBSSN ARKANSAS STATE (8-4) vs NEVADA (7-5)
I fear this one gets totally lost in the shuffle of Bowl mania. Not much of the nation gets fired up over teams from the Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences facing off. To top it all off, the pro prospects are few and far between in this one, so let’s cut to the chase and just mention the hand full of guys you might want to eyeball from a scouting standpoint.
MALIK REED #90 OB NEVADA 6’1/235
He moved from DE to OLB for his senior season. He’s a developmental prospect, URFA or Round 7, but has enough quickness and natural pass-rush ability to, at the least, be an edge-rush specialist in the NFL, if he can also parlay his play to excel on Special Teams.
JUSTICE HANSEN #15 QB ARKANSAS STATE 6’4/220
He has nice size and some mobility to, at the least, extend plays. He shows good accuracy, and has improved in that area every season. He passed for over 3,000 yards and 27 TD’s in 2018. He doesn’t have a great arm, but could develop into an NFL backup in the right situation.