Happy New Year! We have an action packed bowl schedule to kick off 2018!
Michigan vs. South Carolina NOON ESPN2
Location: Raymond James Stadium (home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF) Tampa Bay, FL
- The Hit. Part Two. South Carolina and Michigan meet once more after that fateful hit that had the internets abuzz a few years ago. Expect the clip to be played endlessly. South Carolina posted a 8-4 record, which was good for second in the SEC East. Michigan put up the same 8-4 record but was really inefficient doing so. They struggled with massive injuries and are currently on a two game losing streak. Jim Harbaugh still hasn't beaten Ohio State.
Michigan prospects to watch
1. Maurice Hurst 6'2 280 DL RS Senior
- Hurst has been a rising star this year for a fearsome Wolverines front seven. He's very quick for his size and is very fundamentally sound like most Michigan defenders. Short area burst and lateral agility are pluses. He's the anchor on the line. Possibly the best true 4-3 defensive tackle in this year's class. First round lock.
2. Mike McCray II 6'4 248 LB RS Senior
- The leader of a depleted but still talented Wolverines defense that has been a chore to play against. A Big Ten legacy as father played for the rival Buckeyes. An above average athlete and fundamental tackler. He's rarely out of position on most plays. Very good day three prospect.
3. Rashan Gary 6'4 287 DT Sophomore (2019)
- Gary has more than lived up to his top ranked billing. Had a somewhat disappointing freshman season but has exploded onto the scene as a sophomore. He's going to be a star next year as a junior.
4. Mason Cole 6'4 297 OL RS Senior
- Cole is the most experienced lineman for Michigan as he has 51 starts under his belt. Position versatile as he's played center and guard. One of the top center prospects in the country. Possible day 2 pick.
South Carolina prospect to watch
1. Skai Moore 6'1 218 OLB RS Senior
- Moore is one of the more productive linebackers in the entire country. He's an above average athlete that has plus instincts. Questions about his frame will persist if his measurements are correct. He just screams a Titans pick as the production is the off the charts are good. Moore has posted 346 tackles, five sacks, and 14 interceptions. He covers sideline to sideline very well.
#12 UCF vs. #7 Auburn 12:30 PM ESPN
Chik Fil-A Peach Bowl
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United)
- UCF is trying to send off former HC Scott Frost the right way as he has taken the Nebraska job (the worst kept secret in college). Frost is coaching the bowl game. The Golden Knights are undefeated with a 12-0 record. Auburn finished the regular season with a 10-3 record and an SEC West title thanks to beating Bama in the Iron Bowl. Expect a fun one in Atlanta with these two high octane offenses.
UCF prospect to watch
1. Mike Hughes 5'11 191 CB Junior
- Hughes transferred to UCF from North Carolina. He sat out last year due to the transfer rules. One of the more intriguing corners to watch as he doesn't have as much experience as others. The Golden Knights' best defender at times.
Auburn prospects to watch
1. Jarrett Stidham 6'2 214 QB RS Sophomore
- On a good day, Stidham is one of the best QBs in the country. On a bad day (aka against really good defenses like Clemson), he's just a guy. He really should have selected another school as it will take a long time if ever to shake loose of the bastions of poor QB development that are the Baylor and Auburn programs. Arm talent is a plus. More athletic than given credit for.
2. Kerryon Johnson 5'11 212 RB Junior
- Johnson became the workhorse back for the Tigers ever since Kam Pettway went down with injury. He's a very fluid athlete and is a physical runner. A plus receiver out of the backfield. Workload is a concern as he currently is on pace to double his workload every year. Really has had two outstanding years of production to show for it. Is dealing with a shoulder injury so his availability will be an issue in today's bowl game.
3. Tray Matthews 6'0 209 S RS Senior
- Matthews has had an interesting career arc. He originally signed with Georgia but was dismissed from the program for multiple violations of team rules so he transferred to Auburn. Has kept a low profile ever since arriving on the Plains. Funny note: He was one of the defensive backs that gave Auburn a game winning touchdown in 2013 as a member of the Dogs. Is limited to being a strong safety at the next level due to a lack of athleticism.
#14 Notre Dame vs. #17 LSU 1 PM ABC
Citrus Bowl Pres. by Overton's
Location: Camping World Stadium. Orlando, FL
- Two of the bluest of blue blood programs travel to Orlando and visit the Mouse House. ND put up a 9-3 record that features losses to Georgia, Miami, and Stanford. It was a slog at times on offense as QB Brandon Wimbush struggled to get moving. LSU posted the same 9-3 record but was in contention for the SEC West until they met Alabama. They did beat Auburn so there's that. The Tigers offense is experiencing internal problems as OC Matt Canada is expected to resign due to conflicts with Coach O meddling in it. Which of these power programs can get 2018 started off right?
Notre Dame prospects to watch
1. Mike McGlinchey 6'8 312 OL RS Senior
- Has played both left and right tackle in career. A massive mountain at tackle. Experienced as a RS Senior. He's the best tackle in this year's class. Fundamentally sound. Doesn't get beat often. Would've been a top 15 pick had he decided to go pro as a junior. Has been just as good as advertised in 2017.
2. Equanimeous St. Brown 6'5 204 WR RS Sophomore
- A playmaker in the short and deep passing game. The injury history is a little worrisome as he missed 2015 with a shoulder issue. An athletic freak with good fundamentals. It's not fair what he can do to defensive backs. 2017 hasn't been a good season for him due to ineffectiveness at the quarterback position and injury. A potential game breaker on any play if the QB play is above average.
3. Quenton Nelson 6'4 330 OL RS Junior
- Nelson is the country's best guard prospect, no questions asked. He's a brick wall and defenders rarely beat him. Footwork excellent. IQ is a plus. He's the best guard prospect in a number of years. A Chance Warmack level of prospect.
LSU prospects to watch
1. Derrius Guice 5'11 218 RB Junior
- Leonard Fournette who? Guice served as Fournette's talented understudy before taking over full time this year. He overshadowed his predecessor at times last year. An elite athlete at the position. Vision and instincts are major pluses as well. Liable to score from anywhere on the field. He has been in and out of the lineup at times due to a myriad of injuries and is likely to play in the bowl game.
2. DJ Chark 6'3 198 WR Senior
- Chark is the Tigers main receiving threat as he broke out in 2017 with 35 receptions for 811 yards thus far. Athletically, he's one of the best in the class. He can get going in a hurry. LSU used him some as a runner during his junior season. A deep ball specialist with pretty solid footwork. He has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl.
#3 Georgia at #2 Oklahoma 5:00 PM ESPN
Rose Bowl Game pres. by Northwestern Mutual
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
- It's the Rose Bowl, enough said. The first semifinal game features the Heisman winner against a very stingy Bulldogs defense. Baker Mayfield is purportedly ill with flu like symptoms so the Michael Jordan Flu Game potential is there. It will be interesting to see how the awards circuit affects him. Georgia is building a monstrous powerhouse under Kirby Smart not seen since the Nick Saban early Bama days. Can the Dawgs muster enough stops to keep their offense in it?
Georgia prospects to watch
1. Roquan Smith 6'0 225 LB Junior
- Smith might be the best linebacker in the SEC if not the whole country. He has really blossomed under the stewardship of HC Kirby Smart. He is the defensive leader for the Bulldogs fearsome stop unit. A tackling machine with great fundamentals. Position versatile as he can play both in and out. I have size concerns as he is only a listed 225 (which isn't too light by any means but still). Could consider going pro early.
2. Nick Chubb 5'10 225 RB Senior
- Two words: He Back. Chubb is back to being the NICK CHUBB that we know after struggling with post injury recovery last year. He's threatening UGA's career rushing records held by the venerable Herschel Walker. He's been that good. Made a smart business decision (in hindsight) to return for a senior season. Medicals will be interesting to keep an eye on during the offseason process.
3. Lorenzo Carter 6'5 243 EDGE Senior
- Carter has finally solidified his presence as a defensive force as a senior after showing glimpses in the past. A former five star recruit that took some time develop into the monster that he is today. Can be used as both an end and outside linebacker. Has lined up pretty much everywhere. Best suited as a standup OLB in the pros.
4. Davin Bellamy 6'4 245 OLB RS Senior
- Bellamy is a former five star recruit that got going during his junior season but really has developed nicely as a senior. Fundamentally sound as most Bulldog defenders are under Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker. He doesn't have the production numbers but is generally a reliable defender that eats up blocks so that teammates can go make plays.
Oklahoma prospects to watch
1. Baker Mayfield 6'1 215 QB RS Senior
- He's a dynamic athlete that can play QB with the best of them. A divisive figure within the scouting community due to athleticism and size. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He's just so much fun to watch. I think he can be Russell Wilson 2.0 at the next level. He's had some issues with being too confident (see antics against Kansas and the post game flag plant against Ohio State). Off field incident this past offseason involving alcohol in which he was tackled by the police.
2. Mark Andrews 6'5 254 TE RS Junior
- The best tight end prospect in the nation without question. He's been a force to deal with for the majority of his career. A great athlete. Route running is a plus. The 2017 Mackey Award winner. Mayfield's top target.
3. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 6'0 240 OLB RS Senior
- OO has been a pleasant surprise this year for the Sooners. He's developed into one of the best pass rushers in college football. Every game that I've seen of him, he's made plays. Very good first step. Football IQ is a plus. Dominated Texas like it was nothing. Should be drafted high. A high riser up the boards. Watch more of him and you'll fall in love with his potential.
#4 Alabama vs. #1 Clemson 8:45 PM ESPN
Allstate Sugar Bowl
- The Trilogy. These two programs have provided us with two very entertaining games thus far, can they give us one more? Clemson QB Kelly Bryant has done an admirable job doing the near impossible. Nick Saban is still Nick Saban. Can the time off help the Tide figure out the Clemson offense? Bama is dealing with yet another coordinator departure as Jeremy Pruitt was hired as the Tennessee head coach. Will that affect the Tide as it did last year?
Alabama prospects to watch
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick 6'1 203 DB Junior
- The nation's best cornerback / safety prospect and it isn't particularly close, either. Impact day one starter even as a freshman. Elite athlete. Position versatile as he played safety a ton last year after Eddie Jackson went down with injury. He's good. Not much left to be said. Possibly the most talented of the Bama corners of recent lore.
2. Calvin Ridley 6'1 188 WR Junior
- The Tide's WR1 this year. Pretty good athlete. Outstanding route runner. Above average blocker. Has varied from WR1 to WR4 depending on which report you read. Has improved upon 2016 numbers but still dealing with Jalen Hurts's inconsistencies and more attention due to being the guy. He should declare for the draft.
3. DaRon Payne 6'2 308 DL Junior
- One guy leaves for the NFL, the next guy comes in and balls out. The machine that is the Bama defensive linemen room continues with Payne. Above average athlete. Has really stood out thanks to Da'Shawn Hand's injury. Has posted 94 tackles and five sacks thus far. Fits perfectly as a 3-4 defensive end. He will have some questions to answer about going pro early.
4. Rashaan Evans 6'4 234 LB RS Senior
- Evans is a beast. He got next in the long line of great Tide linebackers that are inevitable pros. He is a playmaker all over the field and the stats show it. Had a monstrous season all year. He very well could be my favorite linebacker in this year's class. LB1 regardless of outside and inside.
Clemson prospects to watch
1. Mitch Hyatt 6'5 304 OT Junior
- The best tackle in the class and it isn't particularly close. He has started at left tackle since he first stepped on campus and hasn't looked back. Very fundamentally sound. One of the most dominant left tackles that I've seen in a long time.
2. Deon Cain 6'1 190 WR Junior
- It can be argued that he's one of the fastest deep threat receivers in the country. A terrific overall athlete with much better route running skills than anticipated. He has been relatively quiet in 2017 due to QB issues. Is he the next stud receiver from Clemson to go pro early?
3. Christian Wilkins 6'4 300 DL Junior
- Has played both tackle and end in his career. Great athlete. Impressive tackling skills. The general for the feared Tigers defense that has shown very little regression from last year. Work ethic and character are pluses.
4. Dexter Lawrence 6'4 340 DT Sophomore
- He hasn't been the dominant freshman that took the country by storm last year but still one of the best as a sophomore. He should declare as a junior next year.
5. Austin Bryant 6'4 265 DE Junior
- Very good athlete that sat behind some big league talent until this past year. Has really exploded onto the scene this season. Development will be interesting in that he might go pro but he should stay in school for a senior season. Still improving upon a pass rushing arsenal. It remains to be seen if he is just a one hit wonder or if he can progress further.