NEW MEXICO BOWL Dreamstyle Stadium Albuquerque; 2 PM/ET ESPN
UTAH STATE (10-2) VS NORTH TEXAS (9-3)
Most early Bowls don’t really have a valid reason for their very existence, from a football value standpoint. They feature teams that are basically getting a thank you participation gift from the NCAA. This game differs by having two teams who had very solid seasons. Both teams have solid, reliable defenses, with Utah State having a big advantage with the explosiveness and scoring potential of their Offense. A big factor to try to add in to the equation here, is the loss of HC MATT WELLS, who has accepted the job at Texas Tech. North Texas’ best two prospects to eyeball are #22 E.J. EJIYA/LB and #16 KEMON HALL/CB.
For Utah State, DRAFT prospects feature #10 JORDAN LOVE/QB RSO, #9 DAVID WOODWARD/ILB RSO, #1 RON’QUAVION TARVER/WR, #76 ROMAN ANDRUS/OT/OG, and #42 SULI TAMAIVENA/ILB. Best of all may be DAX RAYMOND/TE #87, a junior who has declared and could be a Round 3/4 draftee.
LAS VEGAS BOWL Sam Boyd Stadium Las Vegas; 3:30PM/ET ABC
ARIZONA STATE (7-5) vs FRESNO STATE (11-2)
This is another decent match-up for an early Bowl contest. FRESNO defeated Boise to win the Mountain West Conference, while the Sun Devils had a solid season in their first run under Herm Edwards as their head coach. I expect FRESNO to put a stinging defeat on ASU, and the PAC-12 as a whole. Unfortunately, the best prospect on either team will not play in this contest. WR N’KEAL HARRY has declared for the NFL Draft and is at a performance camp.
ASU prospects to watch include #5 MANNY WILKINS/QB, #55 CASEY TUCKER/OT, and #95 RENELL WREN/DT.
You don’t win 11 games, including the MW title game over Boise, using just smoke and mirrors. Bulldog prospects to watch include #6 MARCUS McMARYION/QB, #3 KeeSEAN JOHNSON/WR, #9 JEFFREY ALLISON/MLB JR, and #6 TANK KELLY/CB.