The bowl game action continues on Boxing Day, with a couple of star-studded college teams in action. Here’s the preview of today’s slate.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL: West Virginia vs. Utah
1:20 p.m. ET on ESPN at Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas.
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With injuries to star quarterback Will Grier and running back Justin Crawford, the Mountaineer wide receivers should be the main attraction in this game. All-American David Sills has recently announced he will return to college to give himself another year of experience at the position. If Sills’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he made national headlines by committing to USC back when he was 13 years old, at quarterback.
Sills, 6’4 and 205 lbs., led the nation with 18 touchdown catches this season. With another year of college ball together, Grier and Sills should put up huge numbers once again in 2018-19, and then be major players in the 2019 draft.
Speaking of David Sills, check out this ridiculous toe-tapper.
He’s no joke, and not only because of this. pic.twitter.com/wEbbeEzwqM
— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) November 11, 2017
Junior wideout Gary Jennings and senior Ka’Raun White have also had terrific seasons. Jennings led the team in receptions and receiving yards with 94 receptions for 1,030 yards while White tallied up 978 yards and 11 touchdowns of his own.
After a nine-win season on the back of now-49er running back Joe Williams in 2016, Utah has had a down year in 2017 finishing at just 6-6. The Utes have leaned on RB Zack Moss, who has totaled over 1200 yards on the year, and receiver Darren Carrington.
Carrington, another familiar name, is more known for his explosive seasons at Oregon. He was dismissed from Oregon due to a DUI incident, after leading the Ducks in receiving in 2016. Specializing in big plays down the field, the 6’2 burner has racked up at least 600 yards in each of his four collegiate seasons. Carrington is an NFL talent but will likely slide down draft boards thanks to the DUI. Look out for him as a late round receiver or UDFA this off-season.
Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois
5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan.
There isn’t as much firepower in this matchup. Duke utilizes a big running-back-by-committee approach with two backs and QB Daniel Jones both garnering over 100 carries on the year.
The NIU offense is led by freshman QB Marcus Childers, who has boasted a 15-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio to go along with over 450 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. NIU’s leading rusher Jordan Huff is injured and will be out for the contest.
NIU redshirt sophomore DL Sutton Smith is a name to remember. Named an All-American last week, Smith led the country in tackles for losses with 28.5, including a program-record 14 sacks.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA
10 p.m. ET on ESPN at Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona.
Clearly, QB Josh Rosen is the must-see TV here. The NFL draft is right around the corner and Rosen is the odds on favorite to be the number one 0verall pick. He can make every throw on the field and his ability to read a defense is what every offensive coordinator wants to see. Despite a poor run game and offensive line, Rosen has amassed 3,717 passing yards, a 26-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the year.
Jordan Lasley has really benefited from being Rosen’s go-to guy at receiver. Rosen looks to Lasley in nearly every big situation. Lasley had a breakout year in 2017 with 60 receptions, 1,136 yards and 8 touchdowns on over 18 YPC – all of that in only eight games. Lasley is only a junior, but I would not be surprised if he were to declare after the huge season, especially if/when Rosen declares for the draft.
Unlike UCLA, Kansas State has struggled to find consistent quarterback play this season. Jesse Ertz has taken the most snaps, but he will miss the bowl game with a knee injury. Freshman Skylar Thompson is thought to be the quarterback of the future for the Wildcats. He has led the team to late season wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
Look for junior wideout Byron Pringle to get involved early and often. Pringle is averaging over 25 yards per catch, to the tune of 705 yards and six touchdowns.
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