Bowl Game Previews: December 30th

Matt Caraccio


Bowl games are in full swing and for many college players it will be their last competitive football game. I almost can’t fathom how quickly this college football season has flown by but it brings closer my favorite time of the year, draft season. The good news is we will get one more opportunity to be both the judge and jury of prospects. As you watch the bowl games, keep an eye on these skill position players for both your rookie and devy drafts.

Music City Bowl
Notre Dame vs LSU
ESPN 3:00 p.m. EST

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

After starting the year winners of their first six, Notre Dame lost a tight one on the road to Florida State back in mid-October. Losing their five of their final six games, the Fighting Irish are looking for vindication against a formidable LSU team. Some of the key players you need to watch are senior quarterback (#5) Everett Golson, and sophomore wide receiver (#7) William Fuller.

While Everett Golson has been surprisingly benched in favor of sophomore Malik Zaire, he is still expected to play. Golson is known for his big arm and mobility. The 6’1”, 200 pound signal caller out of Myrtle Beach, California was considered a potential Heisman Trophy candidate earlier in the season. After looking good going toe-to-toe with Jameis Winston earlier in the season, Golson was a player on the verge. As the team unraveled down the stretch, the buzz surrounding Golson faded. This will be Golson’s last chance to reclaim his prospect status and elevate his draft stock.

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Fuller is a wide receiver out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who stands at 6’1”, weighing 180 pounds. Fuller finished the season with 71 receptions for 1,037 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, which are fantastic numbers for a sophomore. With a good burst off the line of scrimmage, above average lateral agility, and very good acceleration, Fuller will look to challenge the Tigers’ secondary. I am interested to see how Fuller responds to LSU’s bigger, more physical cornerbacks. How does Fuller handle press coverage? Devy players take note.

LSU Tigers

Les Miles and the Tiger’s ended the season ranked #23 overall in the country. Relying heavily upon their defense, which ranked third in points allowed in the country, the Tigers would like to end the season on a high note. LSU should enter this game feeling confident having defeated Texas A&M on the road in their season finale. With a pair of senior running backs in (#27) Kenny Hilliard and (#18) Terrence Magee expected to contribute, it will likely be “all-world” freshman (#7) Leonard Fournette garnering most of the attention. Fournette, a New Orleans product, stands 6’1” and weighs 230 pounds. Prior to entering college many analysts were saying he was the next Adrian Peterson. In fact, there were even whispers of Heisman before Fournette even took a single carry. Like many lofty predictions, these have yet to be realized – so far. While Fournette’s play on the field did not garner a Heisman trophy this year, his physical gifts are more than apparent. Combining excellent size, with speed and power, Fournette is physically gifted. Coming off a 19 carry, 146 rushing yard effort against Texas A&M, Fournette flashed next level talent when he ran 22 yards for a touchdown while barreling through a 6’2”, 215 pound defensive back. It will be interesting to see what Fournette does for an encore.

In addition to Fournette, there is another freshman catching analysts’ eyes; wide receiver (#15) Malachi Dupre. Although Dupre logged only 14 receptions for 318 yards and five touchdowns, he did average 22.7 yards per reception. The five-star recruit who ranked the fifteenth best player in the country is worth watching in devy formats. Finally, and not least of all, is sophomore wide receiver (#83) Travin Dural. The 6’2” Breaux Bridge product out of Louisiana will look to build on a year where he saw 37 receptions for 758 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. I am interested to see if Les Miles will try and use Dural more creatively considering he was able to gash Texas A&M for 49 yards on just four carries. Dural seems to possess good straight-line speed and some elusiveness as a runner.

Belk Bowl
Georgia vs Louisville
ESPN 6:30 p.m. EST

Georgia Bulldogs 

Arguably one of the best teams in the SEC (finished the season ranked #13 in the country), the Bulldogs had quality wins late in the season against Auburn and the eventual SEC runner-up, Missouri. The loss of Todd Gurley for more than half the season due too injury and suspension showed the college football world that the Georgia was unflappable. Although they finished on a sour note, losing to sixteenth ranked Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs showed their cupboard would be far from empty next season once Gurley enters the draft. Nick Chubb (#27), a freshman out of Cedartown, Georgia, averaged 6.9 yards per carry this season (fifteenth best in the FBS) while tallying 1,281 rushing yards on 186 carries and twelve touchdowns. A thick, well built back, Chubb looks the part of potential stud. It will be interesting to see how he plays against a Cardinals’ defense that ranked nineteenth in points allowed in the FBS.

Louisville Cardinals

After Teddy Bridgewater left for the NFL and the Cardinals joined the ACC this past July, many pundits predicted a significant regression for the Cardinals. Simply expected to vie for respectability under reappointed head coach Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals showed they had other plans. Petrino, who coached the Cardinals between 2003-06, lead Louisville to an outstanding season finishing as the #21 ranked team in the country. Led by potential first round draft pick (#9) DeVante Parker, the Cardinals were a force in their first year as a member of the ACC. While the 6’3” 208 pound Parker needs little introduction, it is hard to ignore what he has accomplished this season. When Parker takes the field today, it will only be his sixth contest of the year! Yes, sixth! However, Parker has already amassed 35 receptions for 735 receiving yards and five touchdowns in his previous five contests. Incredible! It will be interesting to see what type of performance Parker has in store for the Bulldogs’ secondary.

Another player worth watching is sophomore running back (#23) Brandon Radcliff. Averaging more than five yards per carry, the 5’9” Radcliff has posted several big performances this year. Although not worth adding in devy leagues at this point, it’s worth a closer look to see if Radcliff has the goods to be a potential NFL prospect.

Foster Farms Bowl
Maryland vs Stanford
ESPN 10 p.m. EST

Maryland Terrapins

With nice wins against both Michigan and Penn State, coach Randy Edsall led the Terrapins to a seven and five record overall. In conference play, Maryland went four and four in the Big Ten. It is clear the Terrapins will look to make a name for themselves against Stanford on Tuesday. Leading the way will be star wide receiver (#1) Stefon Diggs. Diggs who missed the last few games of the season due to a kidney injury and team rules violation, will look to make his mark before deciding on whether to go pro or return to school. Diggs is a true talent and he will be heavily leaned upon if the Terrapins expect to challenge the stingy defense of the Cardinal. Devy owners should already have scooped up Diggs in their leagues.

Stanford Cardinal

Coming off a massive win against UCLA in their season finale the Cardinal will look to salvage a rather unsavory season. Stanford struggled much of the season against ranked opponents, and senior quarterback (#8) Kevin Hogan will look to lead the Cardinal to victory. Although Hogan finished the season with a reputable 65.7 completion percentage, he was inconsistent most of the year. With a potential stud freshman quarterback waiting in the wings (Keller Chryst – devy players take note), and Hogan having one more year of eligibility, this game could have considerable impact on the Cardinal quarterback situation in 2015. A big reason Stanford had even limited success was do in part by to the excellent play of senior wide receiver (#7) Ty Montgomery. Montgomery led the Cardinals with 61 receptions for 604 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Having missed the season finale against UCLA, the 6’2” product out of Dallas, Texas will look to improve his draft stock on Tuesday, if he’s able to play. A speedster who has been utilized as both a runner out of the backfield and punt returner, Montgomery projects as one of the better wide receiver prospects in this draft. It will be interesting to see how he does against the Terrapins.