Today is the official kick-off of the 2013 college football bowl season. There are thirty-five bowl games over the next sixteen days and I am going to attempt to give you a brief preview of every one of them, with a eye on who you should be watching as you prepare for your rookie and developmental drafts in the upcoming months.
Over the next three weeks, I hope to share with you a preview of each of the games that will take place that week. Here we go!
*Note- I have yet to see many of these non-BCS prospects play, but have collected some information from a few different resources that should help your bowl game viewing.
December 21st Bowls
New Mexico Bowl (2:00, ESPN)
Washington State vs. Colorado State
This game will kickoff the bowl season and does feature a couple of prospects that could hear their name called during the NFL draft. Under Mike Leach, it’s no surprise that Washington State has a high-powered offense, though they are a very young team. Quarterback Connor Halliday will throw the ball all over the field and already has thirteen 300-yard passing games this season. The junior quarterback should continue to post some huge numbers, but his thin frame limits his professional upside.
Colorado State has a pair of offensive weapons worth watching. Running back Kapri Bibbs has had a breakout year and leads the country with twenty-eight rushing touchdowns. At 5’11” and just over 200 pounds, the sophomore back has ideal size for the NFL. Also, the Rams have a tight end prospect in Crockett Gilmore who with his big 6’6” frame could be a red zone target as a mid-round draft pick. He’ll also take part in the East-West Shrine Game in less than a month.
Las Vegas Bowl (3:30, ABC)
Fresno State vs. Southern California
This is the marquee matchup of the early slate of games. Fresno State was in the running for a spot in a BCS bowl until they took a crushing late season loss to San Jose State in a high scoring affair that was the ultimate showcase of the Bulldogs quarterback/wide receiver duo. Quarterback Derek Carr is a senior and is expected to be a very high draft pick in May’s draft. Many dynasty owners are hoping he takes his top wide receiver, Devante Adams, with him. Adams though is just a redshirt sophomore, so there is a decision to be made. Adams has over 1,600 receiving yards and twenty-three of Carr’s forty-eight touchdowns on the season. Don’t be surprised to see both of these players as first round NFL draft picks in May.
The University of Southern California had a disappointing season judging by their high standards, but they still managed a 9-4 season and have two wide receivers that you’re likely already familiar with. Marqise Lee is a junior, but is widely expected to turn pro, even after a injury riddled season in which he is second on the team in receptions and receiving yards and tied for third in receiving touchdowns with only two. The criticisms levied against Lee this year are some of the same we heard about Keenan Allen the prior season. Lee could be undervalued in rookie drafts just as Allen was. The Trojans top wide receiver this year is true sophomore Nelson Algohor, who is a player that could see his value really jump in his junior season under new head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Idaho Potato Bowl (5:30, ESPN)
Buffalo vs. San Diego State
For fans looking for high-powered offenses, this will be a game you can avoid. Both teams sport solid defenses and average, at best, offenses. Fantasy owners playing in IDP leagues will want to key in on Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, who could be a top five pick. You’ve likely been hearing a lot about Mack, but Buffalo playing a nationally televised game is rare, so enjoy the chance to see him play.
Buffalo also has a running back to watch in senior Branden Oliver, who has seemingly been around forever and has never really lived up to expectations. Oliver did have another solid season in rushing for over 1,400 yards and fifteen scores against average competition. He will likely be drafted, but may have to wait until day three.
New Orleans Bowl (9:00, ESPN)
Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
You won’t see a lot of future NFL skill position talent in this battle of New Orleans, but there will be one name that will certainly jump out to fans. Tulane’s starting quarterback is Nick Montana, the son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana. It is still uncertain how much, if at all, Montana will play as he’s struggled with injuries all season.
The top prospect for the Green Wave is wide receiver Ryan Grant, who is nearing 1,000 yards on the season and has found the end zone on nine occasions. Along with this bowl game, Grant has been invited to take part in the Senior Bowl to show off his skills for NFL scouts.
December 23rd Bowls
Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (2:00, ESPN)
Ohio vs. East Carolina
East Carolina has been a consistent team all year, while the Ohio Bobcats have struggled of late. I talked earlier about the duo of Carr and Adams for Fresno State and the Pirates have their own dynamic duo, though much less heralded. Quarterback Shane Carden has over 3,800 yards and thirty-two touchdown passes, while his top wide receiver junior Justin Hardy is enjoying his second straight 1,000 yard receiving season. Carden is also a junior and neither player is expected to consider making the jump to the 2014 NFL draft. If they can continue posting their video game stats in 2014, they could be NFL draft sleepers.
Check back for a special mid-week edition of Developing Assets as I preview the week’s remaining bowl games.
The devy rankings will return following the bowl games, but devy drafts got a lot stronger this week as Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has opted to stay in school for his junior season. We are still waiting to hear from several more underclassmen that could make or break the 2014 rookie class.
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