Some interesting matchups today as the bowl season marches on
#24 North Carolina State vs. Arizona State 3 PM CBS
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Location: Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
- The Wolfpack and Sun Devils travel to El Paso to determine who has the better car between Hyundai and Kia. NC State was in the running for the ACC Atlantic division title until a late loss to Wake Forest (The WakeyLeaks revenge tour was a real thing this year). They finished with a 8-4 record. The Pack were competitive in nearly every game save one. ASU, on the other hand, had an interesting time on coaching carousel to say the least. They fired HC Todd Graham and hired the ever loquacious Herm Edwards in his stead. The plan was to hire Edwards as the CEO type and keep the coordinators, only to see both of them leave. What's more is that Graham is coaching the bowl game. The AD was the former agent to Edwards. Make of that what you will.
NC State prospect to watch
1. Bradley Chubb 6'4 260 DE Senior
- Chubb is one of the best defensive ends in the entire country. A pass rushing dynamo. A virtual top 10 lock at this point. Fundamentally sound as a pass rusher. Run defense needs improvement. He's the best 4-3 end in the nation. He has 198 tackles and 25 sacks in his career. It is unclear if he will play due to injury as of this writing.
2. Jaylen Samuels 5'11 228 ATH Senior
- Samuels is the Wolfpack's go to weapon. He's been used as a Swiss army knife of sorts throughout his career. Primarily a running back by trade but has played seemingly everywhere except offensive line and quarterback. Not the fastest athlete out there but in the view that he projects as a tight end / fullback, he has more than enough. Production has been relatively a success as he has a combined 2,892 yards from scrimmage that adds up to 46 touchdowns.
3. Ryan Finley 6'4 205 QB Senior
- Finley is a game manager type that has done well for the Wolfpack this year. He has a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio after transferring to NC State from Boise State. Enough arm talent to make a majority of the big league throws. Projects as a career backup.
Arizona State prospects to watch
1. Kalen Ballage 6'2 227 RB Senior
- He's a big physical bruiser type of back. It can be argued that he is one of the best athletes in the Sun Devil program. An underrated prospect that is one of the best backs in the conference. Above average in the passing game. He's a capable receiver out of the backfield though the stats don't bear it out as much.
2. N'Keal Harry 6'3 216 WR Sophomore
- Harry is physical red zone threat, not to mention one of the better athletes in the country at his position. He's a deep ball specialist that led the Sun Devils in receiving in 2017. Primed for a big junior season in which he could declare early if things go right. A name to watch in 2018.
#8 USC vs. #5 Ohio State 8:30 PM ESPN
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)
- Apparently the Rose Bowl decided to take its talents to Jerry World. This matchup came about due to the Rose Bowl serving as a national semifinal host. Outside of the playoff, this is the premier match of the bowl season. Two blue bloods dueling with two talented but inconsistent quarterbacks leading their programs. USC is the Pac-12 champion while Ohio State was left out of the playoff AGAIN, this time as the Big Ten champion thanks to a blowout loss at Iowa. Should be fun one.
USC prospects to watch
1. Sam Darnold 6'4 225 QB Junior
- Pocket presence had been improving until a shaky OL ruined it. Has all the physical tools to make it in the league. A gamer that refuses to give up regardless of score. He has been hyped up to be a top draft pick for almost a year now. Has been very turnover prone in 2017. Arm talent is above average. It would be one of the biggest shocks if he returns to school for a senior season.
2. Cameron Smith 6'2 245 LB Junior
- Smith is a fast twitch linebacker with a great football IQ. Very athletic and fits the mold for modern day linebackers. One of the best LBs in the country. Tackling machine and fundamentally sound. He has started since Day 1 as a freshman. Has a knee issue (A torn ACL at the end of freshman season) that could come up during medicals should he go pro. He's one of the safest picks to make.
3. Iman Marshall 6'0 200 CB Junior
- Very solid in fundamentals. A great athlete that can keep up with the faster receivers in the nation. Ball skills are on point. CB1 potential and then some. Has been a standout ever since he stepped foot on campus. 2017 has been a rough one for Marshall as he's been in and out of the lineup with various injuries. Probably needs a return for a senior season to prove 2017 was just a bump in the road.
4. Ronald Jones II 6'0 200 RB Junior
- Jones is one of the best backs in the nation that no one talks about. He's a playmaker in every sense of the word. Excellent receiver out of the backfield. A willing blocker when called upon. He can go the distance on any carry. Workload could be a concern as he's logged 572 carries (242 as a junior) for 3,555 yards and 38 touchdowns. First USC back to rush for back to back 1000 yard seasons since a former friend of the Titans, LenDale White.
Ohio State prospects to watch
1. Denzel Ward 5'10 191 CB Junior
- Ward is the next man up in a long line of Buckeyes CBs to stand out before going pro. He's one of the better corners in the country. A track star with a purported sub 4.4 40 speed. A physical player with good ball skills. After further research, I found some inconsistencies in his game. He gets burned far too often for a top corner. Nonetheless, one of the better corners in the class.
2. Sam Hubbard 6'5 265 DE RS Junior
- Hubbard has been on the radar for basically his entire career after being called into duty early replacing an injured Joey Bosa. Hubbard has tailed off somewhat since a hot start but still is considered to be one of the better ends in the class. A physical marvel. Fundamentally sound in both pass and run game.
3. Tyquan Lewis 6'3 265 DE RS Senior
- Lewis has seemingly been in the program for forever now. Experienced in pretty much everything an offense can throw at him. A guy who doesn't mind doing the dirty work for the team. Athleticism is above average. Projects as a 3-4 defensive end.
4. J.T. Barrett 6'1 220 QB RS Senior
- It seems like a generation ago that Barrett burst onto the scene as a freshman leading the Buckeyes on a national title run before getting hurt. He's been through multiple QB competitions since then and has won every single one. An above average athlete with limited improvement as a passer. Inconsistent as they come. Can dominate one game and no show the next. He's graded out to be a priority UDFA due to the severe inconsistencies in his game. The Buckeyes often win despite him instead of because of him.
5. Billy Price 6'3 312 C RS Senior
- Price is the best center prospect in the country and the heir to Pat Elflein, who was one of the better ones as well. He's pretty tall for a center but the height doesn't hamper him getting leverage. Football IQ is very good. Footwork is a plus. Anchors very well. The leader in the trenches.