We have some intriguing prospects set to square off in “home” games in today’s bowl action.
Louisville at #23 Mississippi State NOON ESPN
Location: EverBank Field Jacksonville, FL
- Louisville travels a short distance to Memphis to take on a disheartened Bulldogs program that lost its starting QB and head coach. The Cardinals tied for third place in the ACC Atlantic division with a 8-4 record. Funny enough that all four losses were to division teams. Junior CB Jaire Alexander has elected not to participate in this game. The Bulldogs lost Dan Mullen to Florida and hired Penn State OC Joe Moorehead who revitalized a struggling PSU offense under James Franklin.
Louisville prospects to watch
1. Lamar Jackson 6'3 212 QB Junior
- Jackson is an electric playmaker that can score from anywhere on the field. Still inconsistent as a passer but has improved a lot in terms of pocket awareness, reads, and general football IQ. Elite speed and agility. The 2016 Heisman winner was a finalist this year. I can see him being a much better passing Colin Kaepernick.
Mississippi State prospect to watch
1. Martinas Rankin 6'5 315 OT RS Senior
- Rankin is one of the more underrated tackle prospects in the country. He doesn't get a lot of hype as others but he does the job very well. I watched him some against Georgia and that fearsome defense, he didn't get beat once. Athleticism is a plus. Footwork is above average. Mirrors and guides the defender away like its nothing. Rarely gets beat in leverage. He should be getting more recognition.
Iowa State vs. #20 Memphis 12:30 PM ABC
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis, TN
- Memphis gets another home game against a quality program. The high octane Tigers offense meets up with the Cyclones who can go blow for blow. Both head coaches were getting some looks on the coaching carousel before ultimately deciding to stay at their schools. It is quite remarkable what Matt Campbell has done in Ames. He took down two top five teams. Mike Norvell did a solid job of maintaining what former HC Justin Fuente built at Memphis. Which offense will get going first?
Iowa State prospects to watch
1. Joel Lanning 6'2 236 QB/LB Senior
- Lanning has been a revelation at linebacker this year after being a QB for most of his stay in Ames. It's remarkable how fast his transition to the position has been. He did play both offense and defense on occasion this year (notably against Oklahoma). Could be a steal of a prospect in the later rounds.
2. Allen Lazard 6'5 222 WR Senior
- A big physical receiver that can go up and get it. The biggest knock on him is his testing numbers i.e. 40 time. Not the fastest guy out there so it will be very interesting to see how he runs. He's a former four star recruit that chose to stay home for college instead of leaving for bigger programs. Has increased his touchdowns every year.
Memphis prospects to watch
1. Anthony Miller 5'11 190 WR RS Senior
- Miller is the all time leader in just about every receiving category for the Tigers. He's a good route runner with a ton of speed. He's been underrated this year but I consider him as one of the best receivers in this class. Hands are a plus. Multiple 200+ yard games are on his resume. He has 234 receptions for 3,535 yards and 36 touchdowns thus far. First round lock at this point.
#11 Washington vs. #9 Penn State 4:00 PM ESPN
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium Glendale, AZ
- The Huskies and Nitanny Lions are set to do battle to determine which animal is the most dominant. Washington finished second in the Pac-12 North by virtue of losing to Stanford. Penn State finished second in the Big Ten East by losing to both Ohio State and Michigan State consecutively. Star RB Saquon Barkley struggled in both games. The Huskies have some talent left over on the defense to make him miserable. How will PSU find some offense after their OC left for Miss State?
Washington prospects to watch
1. Dante Pettis 6’1 195 WR Senior
- Pettis may be the most underrated receiver prospect in this year’s class due to Washington’s low profile. He’s an elite athlete and dynamic return man. Deep speed is something to behold. Pettis is a proven special teams ace with a record nine return touchdowns to show for it. He's struggled some as a receiver this year due to being the main target and attracting a lot more coverages.
2. Viti Vea 6’5 340 DL Senior
- Vea is a very big man. At a listed 340, he slots in as a classic nose tackle type. He’s made an impact as such. Probably one of the better defensive tackle prospects this year. Living up to the recent legacy of standout Huskie DTs. He's very fluid in his movements despite his size. Probably needs to lose some weight.
Penn State prospects to watch
1. Saquon Barkley 5'11 229 RB Junior
- Barkley has suffered a bit of a downturn in fortunes recently as injuries and lack of production have come up. He's still a good back nonetheless. A bigger back but he has plus athleticism and vision. Instincts are a plus as well. He was the presumptive favorite for the Heisman until Ohio State's defense got a hold of him.
2. Marcus Allen 6'1 207 S Senior
- Allen is one of the more underrated safety prospects in the class. He's the leader of the Penn State defense. A sound tackler. Tackling machine with 313 total tackles so far. A great athlete with plus instincts. Ball skills are above average. It will be interesting to watch how he does during the offseason process.
#6 Wisconsin vs. #10 Miami 8 PM ESPN
Capital One Orange Bowl
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
- The always there Badgers travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes in a true road game. I understand the ACC commitments to the Orange Bowl but having Miami play another home game isn't a good look. The Hurricanes had to play an immense 11 weeks in a row due to real life hurricanes affecting their schedule. They have a two game losing streak to break. Wisconsin went undefeated until the Big Ten title bout against Ohio State. Watch out for star freshman RB Johnathan Taylor.
Wisconsin prospect to watch
1. Troy Fumagalli 6'5 244 TE RS Senior
- Fumagalli burst onto the scene last year in the bowl game against Western Michigan and never really left. He's a quintessential Wisky tight end. Good pass blocker. Plus route runner. Among the best tight ends in the country. Could be a Day 2 pick with some help.
Miami prospects to watch
1. Shaq Quarterman 6'1 240 LB Sophomore
- He's one of the best linebackers in the country, regardless of draft class. He's that good. A monster in the middle and the leader of the Canes defense. A tremendous athlete for his size and can cover sideline to sideline with little issue. A talent that should go pro next year.
2. Chad Thomas 6'6 275 DE Senior
- Thomas is the Hurricanes' best defensive lineman and has been for a number of years now. He's a quick twitch athlete with a bit of power in his game. He really didn't get going until his junior season due to the talent above him. Has posted double digit sacks the past two years. A former five star recruit.