Since Christmas is over, the only thing we have to look forward to are the bowl games. Thankfully, we have plenty of college prospects to sift through before we party like it’s 1999 to bring in the new year.
Today’s slate of games sprinkles in a mix of current draft eligible prospects along with some talented underclassmen. Pay attention to these games, because you never know which player will make an impact in your dynasty league in the not-so-distant future.
WALK-ON’S INDEPENDENCE BOWL
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles vs. Florida State Seminoles
ESPN, 1:30 p.m. EST
The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles finished their regular season with an 8-4 record and placed third in the Conference USA West Division. Their offense ranks 33rd in the nation with 438 total yards per game.
They will be playing the Florida State Seminoles, who finished their season with a 6-6 overall record and a 3-5 record in conference play. The Seminoles finished the regular season placing sixth in the ACC Atlantic Division. Their best win of the season came during week 12 when they defeated inner-state rival Florida 38-22.
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Senior running back, Ito Smith, is Southern Mississippi’s main attraction on offense. He has three straight 1,000-yard seasons. With 136 receptions on his career, Smith is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. He owns a 32.15 percent market share of the team’s offensive production. Keep an eye on him because he’s going to be a trendy name that pops up during the draft process.
Another Southern Miss. player to be on the lookout for is junior wide receiver Korey Robertson. He caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He had five 100-yard games too. His best game came against Louisiana Tech, where he caught nine passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. In that game, he managed to catch the game winning touchdown pass.
If you haven’t heard of him, Florida State’s freshman runner Cam Akers is really good and one of the most talented backs in the country. He was a five-star recruit out of high school and was the top running back prospect in his recruiting class. Akers has 930 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and owns a 25.03 percent market share of Florida State’s offensive production.
Junior running back Jacques Patrick is the team’s power back. He’s not a special talent, but a name to keep in mind just in case he comes out for the draft. Patrick could potentially carve out a role at the NFL level as a short yardage and goal line back. He is fun to watch, because once he hits the hole and gets downhill, he’s very tough to tackle.
Due to an injury that prematurely ended Deondre Francois’ sophomore season, Florida State had to settle with less than optimal quarterback play from freshman James Blackman. This caused some of Florida State’s wide receivers to fall down the wayside. Junior wideout Auden Tate might be one of the best wide receivers in this year’s draft. He has the requisite size to be a team’s WR1 at 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds. Tate has the ability to snatch the ball out of the air at the catch point and make clutch catches in traffic. He proved this season that he’s capable of playing through injures. He separated his shoulder against North Carolina State in week four and played through multiple games while dealing with the injury. Tate is a player you will need to take a long look at during the draft process this year.
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Boston College Eagles
ESPN, 5:15 p.m. EST
The Iowa Hawkeyes finished their season with a 7-5 overall record and a 4-5 conference record and placed fourth in the Big Ten West. Their best win came in week ten when they upset the Ohio State Buckeyes with an impressive 55-24 victory.
They will be playing the Boston College Eagles, who finished their season with a 7-5 record and came fourth in the ACC Atlantic Division. They have a 1-4 record in their last five bowl appearances.
Iowa’s senior running back Akrum Wadley is the team’s crown jewel. He finished the regular season with 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns and a 33.06 percent market share of Iowa’s offensive production. Wadley has five games with over 100 yards rushing. Keep an eye on him during this game, because he’s going to be one of the most talked about running backs in this year’s draft class.
Freshman back AJ Dillon rejuvenated the offense this season for Boston College, rushing for 1,432 yards and 13 touchdowns and owning a 30.84 percent market share of the team’s offensive production. His best game of the season came against Louisville when he rushed for 272 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-foot-0 and 240-pounds, Dillon is a big back who can cause all kinds of problems for the defense when he hits the hole and starts running downhill. He also has a little bit of wiggle that allows him to jump cut and slide step away from defenders when needed.
FOSTER FARMS BOWL
Arizona Wildcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers
FOX, 8:30 p.m. EST
The Arizona Wildcats finished their regular season with a 7-5 record and placed third in the PAC-12 South Division. The Wildcats rank third in the nation with 324.4 rushing yards per game. Their offense also ranks 14th in the country with 5,934 yards in total offense.
They will be playing the Purdue Boilermakers who finished their regular season with a 6-6 overall record, a 4-5 conference record and placed third in the Big Ten West Division. Their defense ranks 30th in the nation with 133.3 rush yards allowed per game which also ranks seventh in the Big Ten.
Senior running back Nick Wilson is the player you will need to keep an eye on for Arizona. He’s not on a lot of people’s radars because he missed a few games this year due to an injury. However, he has rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. Wilson is not an overwhelming talent, but he’s a name you should jot down on your watch list during the draft process. He broke out during his freshman year in 2014, accumulating 1,375 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.
From a devy and dynasty perspective, Purdue is very limited when it comes to talent. Junior running back Markell Jones is the player you need to be aware of during this game. He had a quiet season because he missed four games to an injury. Jones broke out during his freshman season, rushing for 875 yards and ten touchdowns while catching 34 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown, totaling 1,114 total yards from scrimmage.
ACADEMY SPORTS + OUTDOORS TEXAS BOWL
Texas Longhorns vs. Missouri Tigers
ESPN, 9 p.m. EST
The Texas Longhorns finished their regular season with a 6-6 overall record and a 5-4 conference record and placed fourth in the Big-12 conference. Their offense ranks 56th in the country with 408 yards per game.
They will be playing the Missouri Tigers who finished their season with a 7-5 record; placing fourth in the SEC East Division. They have one of the most explosive offenses in the country, gaining on average 512 yards per game.
Freshman running back Daniel Young has managed 207 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. He has taken over some of Chris Warren’s workload this season. Texas also has a bevy of young talent at wide receiver. Sophomore Collin Johnson leads the team with 51 receptions and 725 receiving yards. They also have sophomore wide receiver, Lil’Jordan Humphrey who really isn’t ‘’Lil” considering he stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 225-pounds. Both Johnson and Humphrey have the size and catch radius to develop into a dominate force in the distant future.
Freshman receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps is another prospect to take notes on during this game. He flashed a few times this season and his most notable game came against Kansas State when he caught 12 passes for 121 yards.
Sophomore running back Damarea Crockett injured his shoulder against Georgia in week six and hasn’t played since. There’s a chance he might suit up and play in this game. He’s the team’s star running back and has the potential to be one of the top running backs in the country. Last season, he rushed for 1,062 yards and ten touchdowns.
Missouri’s senior wide receiver J’Mon Moore is one of the team’s top players on offense. He’s listed at 6-foot-3 and weighs 205-pounds and has the speed and quickness to take the top off of the defense. Moore has caught 60 passes for 1,017 yards and ten touchdowns while owning a 27.17 percent market share of the offense’s passing production.