Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl 1 PM ABC
#14 Michigan at #19 Florida
Location: Florida Citrus Bowl Orlando, FL
- The Wolverines travel to Orlando and take on the home state Gators. Michigan had a successful debut 2015 under first year head coach and Michigan alum Jim Harbaugh even with the defeat to the hated Buckeyes. They finished third in the Big Ten East division, finishing a game out from the lead. The Wolverines were led by Iowa transfer QB Jake Rudock. While they were able to muster some sort of offense, the Gators were not once starting QB Will Grier was suspended for PEDs. Florida struggled to get any offense against a dominant Tide defense in the SEC title game. HC Jim McElwain has his work cut out for him in the coming years.
Michigan prospect to watch
1. Wayne Lyons 6'1 196 CB RS Senior
- Lyons was a transfer from Stanford who chose Michigan to once again play for Jim Harbaugh. He has the frame to fit as a boundary corner and the confidence to play outside. Tackling skills are above average. Great at jamming receivers at the line.
Florida prospects to watch
1. Vernon Hargreaves III 5'11 198 CB Junior
- The best pure cornerback prospect in the class. He was the Gators' best defender at times. The definition of shutdown corner. Instincts are good. Size is another plus. He's had to cope with being the leader of an exhausted defense due to the Florida's totally and utterly inept offense. He and his defensive teammates held up as long as they could in the SEC title game but the game was fait accompli as soon as the ball was kicked off.
2. Johnathan Bullard 6'3 283 DL Senior
- The Gators' best lineman and one man show due to significant injuries on the line. Strength is a big factor in his game. Power moves are very good. Holds up at the point of attack and doesn't get lost in the wash. Played through nagging shoulder and knee issues so toughness isn't an issue. Projects as a five tech in a 3-4.
Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl 1 PM ESPN
#8 Notre Dame vs. #7 Ohio State
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
- The much depleted Fighting Irish travel to Glendale to take on a Buckeyes squad that was looking to being in Glendale next week instead of New Year's Day. Notre Dame's 2015 story is full of close calls, including a close one against #1 Clemson. Ohio State looked lethargic and uninterested all year, needing several heroic performances from star RB Ezekiel Elliott to rescue victories. Which Buckeyes team will show up? Who will act like they want to be there instead of the NFL Draft? Will the Irish have enough firepower to keep up?
Notre Dame prospects to watch
1. Jaylon Smith 6'3 235 OLB Junior
- The 2015 Butkus Award winner. Smith might be the most explosive linebacker in this year's class. He's an dynamic athlete with incredible range. A hard hitter as well. Fundamentally sound tackler. Drop back ability is elite. Could be Lavonte David 2.0. Will test off the charts at the Combine.
2. KeiVarae Russell 5'11 196 CB RS Junior
- Russell spent 2014 as a redshirt due to his academic misconduct case. He came back with a vengeance in 2015. Possesses good size for a corner. Has the ability to keep up with any receiver. Ball skills are above average. He is likely done for the year with a broken leg suffered late in the year.
3. Ronnie Stanley OT 6'6 315 RS Junior
- Played like a top 25 pick in 2015 but was a little less than ideal in maintaining consistency. Clemson was a bad game for him while the others were pretty solid. He needs to stay in school to rebuild his stock somewhat.
4. Will Fuller WR 6'0 184 Junior
- Fuller has been a very good receiver for the Irish, who have suffered through some catastrophic injuries. Helped the progression of QB Deshone Kizer significantly. A deep threat that can run with the best of them. He has said that he will return for his senior season.
5. Nick Martin OL 6'4 302 RS Senior
- The Irish's best and most consistent lineman. Position versatile as he's played both center and guard but stuck with center this year. 2016's best center prospect. Younger brother of Cowboys' lineman Zack. Could be an early round pick.
6. C.J. Prosise RB 6'1 220 RS Junior
- Prosise transitioned to running back after spending his previous three years as a receiver. He put up a pretty good season given his switch. A capable receiver (obviously) out of the backfield. He's still learning the nuances of the position but flashed some good things. Missed one game as he went through concussion protocol against Wake Forest.
Ohio State prospects to watch
1. Ezekiel Elliott RB 6'0 225 Junior
- Elliott has been the entire Buckeyes offense at times this year, rescuing OSU from defeat several times with monstrous performances. He has elite vision and instincts. Athleticism is very good. A potential red flag was brought up when he openly questioned the play calling after the defeat to Michigan State in front of the entire assembled media.
2. Taylor Decker OT 6'7 315 Senior
- Decker has been a steadying force for the inconsistent Buckeyes offense. He's the best senior prospect in the class. Compares to Taylor Lewan favorably.
3. Michael Thomas WR 6'3 210 RS Junior
- Devin Smith who? Thomas was the best receiver for the Buckeyes this year after patiently waiting his turn. He stood out against Virginia Tech's CB Kendall Fuller (who some say that he's in the running for best corner). A vertical threat with solid hands. Martavis Bryant with much better route running coming out of college.
4. Joey Bosa 6'5 275 DE Junior
- Bosa didn't have that dominant year everyone expected on the stat sheet but he helped free up his teammates to make plays elsewhere when they felt like playing up to expectations. He has a pretty good arsenal of pass rushing moves and countermoves. A skilled end prospect and one of the better ones in recent memory. Fits the 4-3 more than 3-4. Considered by many as the top prospect regardless of position in the entire country.
5. Vonn Bell 5'11 205 S Junior
- He's an above average athlete with NFL quality instincts and vision. A hard hitter with good tackling form. Bell's reaction time is good. He's more of a strong safety at this point but is capable at both safety spots. Frame needs some work, however.
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual 5 PM ESPN
#6 Stanford vs. #5 Iowa
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
- The reigning Pac-12 champion Cardinal travel a few miles south to Los Angeles to host the Big Ten runner up Iowa Hawkeyes (no, Steve Harvey, Iowa did really finish second). Stanford is up to its usual tricks by being a SEC style team in the spread pass centric Pac-12. Led by Heisman finalist RB Christian McCaffery, the Cardinal look to close out 2015 with a win in a traditional Pac-12 v. Big Ten matchup. Iowa suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. Despite the many overtures from the NFL and other programs, Stanford HC David Shaw has elected to remain at Stanford. Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz was recently named the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year.
Stanford prospects to watch
1. Kyle Murphy OT 6'7 302 Senior
- Murphy might take the Combine by storm with his athleticism. He has quick feet and surprising agility. Arm length is good. Weight distribution is good as well. His problem is that he needs to play more physical at the snap.
2. Kevin Hogan 6'4 225 QB RS Senior
- Hogan possesses an above average arm that will get him places in the NFL but needs to work on becoming more consistently accurate. He has some ability to land those critical "touch" passes and has really improved in that area so far this year outside of the opener where he was horrendous all around. A better athlete than most will give him credit for. Pocket awareness isn't as ideal since he hasn't had to deal with a "busy" pocket since the Stanford OL has been good so far. At this point in the year, Hogan is my third best quarterback on the board in a very weak class. Needs to show out during the offseason draft circuit to sneak into the early rounds.
3. Aziz Shittu 6'3 279 DE Senior
- He was named to the All Pac-12 first team, which is a considerable accomplishment given the talent in the conference at his position. Possesses good fundamentals as a run stopper, having a good tackle form and ball skills. Solid pass rusher although stats don't bear that out. Not the best athlete but fundamentals is one of the more impressive attributes in his game. It allows him to get by with less than ideal physical tools. A pure 4-3 end prospect at this point.
Iowa prospect to watch
1. Desmond King 5'11 200 CB Junior
- Might be the most underrated corner prospect in the country. Led the Hawkeyes to a berth in the Big Ten title game and an undefeated regular season. Not the most explosive athlete out there but is very fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game. A willing tackler as well. Runs the route for the receiver at times. Could be the best corner in 2017 should he elect to stay in school.
Allstate Sugar Bowl 8:30 PM ESPN
#16 Oklahoma State vs. #12 Ole Miss
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, LA
- The 2015 season was a lot of what ifs and what could have been for both of these high octane offenses. Oklahoma State was in the catbird’s seat to clinch the Big 12 title had they not blown two losses to Baylor and rival Oklahoma late. Ole Miss just missed out on being in the playoff over Alabama had they just beat Arkansas in what could be the craziest non-special teams play of the year. The Rebels would’ve gotten in over the Tide since they beat Alabama head to head. Both teams average over 40 points a game. They also average well over 480 yards per game. If you were bored watching the Crimson Tide juggernaut roll over Michigan State, this game is the antidote. Didn’t have enough fireworks go off when the clock hit midnight? Well, this battle in New Orleans will surely provide some more for you.
Oklahoma State prospect to watch
1. Emmanuel Ogbah 6'4 275 DE RS Junior
- Ogbah is the Big 12's most talented pass rusher and has the stats to back it up. Led OSU in tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles. Lateral agility is a major plus to his game. Arm length is another positive. Arsenal of pass rush moves are above average although he leans on his strength rather than finesse at times. A fast riser up the boards.
Ole Miss prospects to watch
1. Laquan Treadwell WR 6'2 210 Junior
- In the argument for best receiver in the country. He possesses good size and has excellent hands. Route running is good as well. The leg injury has sapped his athleticism somewhat so he has to focus on the fundamentals more to get by. He's a top 15 pick should he declare.
2. Laremy Tunsil OT 6'5 305 Junior
- He was great when he came back from suspension from receiving illegal benefits as constituted under NCAA guidelines. The suspension is a big factor for me in any evaluation, not just his. Also, the reason why he got the suspension in the first place features an significant off field issue. The story goes that Tunsil was defending his mother from his stepfather and the dad blurted out to authorities that Tunsil was receiving the aforementioned benefits. Which the dad vehemently denies. Too much drama for my tastes.