Today is bitter-sweet as we review the last four bowl games before the College Football Playoff National Championship. Football season is coming to an end and soon we will be getting in gear for draft season.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Georgia Bulldogs
ESPN, 12:00 p.m. EST
The last meeting between these two teams was during the 1983 Sugar Bowl, which Penn State won 27-23 for their first-ever National Championship. Penn State finished fourth in the Big Ten East with a 7-5 record. They have lost three straight games and their best victories were against Rutgers (28-3) and Indiana (29-7). Georgia finished their season with a 9-3 record while placing second in the SEC East
Saquon Barkley is the player to watch for Penn State. He broke the Penn State record for most rushing yards by a freshman with 1,007 yards. He had five games with over 100-yards rushing while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He was accountable for 27.96 percent of his team’s offensive production, which is remarkable for a freshman. He won the Big Ten freshman player of the year award.
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Coming into the 2015 season, quarterback Christian Hackenberg was considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation. His production slipped this season, mostly due to the offensive line’s inability to maintain their blocks. He was sacked 38 times, which is a statistic a quarterback doesn’t want to lead the nation in. The weekly pounding he would receive from opposing defenses caused him to become skittish at reading defenses and making decisions. Even with a down season, he should still be considered one of the top prospects at the quarterback position in the 2016 draft.
Sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin is a player you might want to keep an eye on. He led the team in receiving with 968 yards. He is one of Hackenberg’s favorite targets. He’s very good at getting separation and he has some speed to take the top off the defense.
If you are into IDP then you need to focus your attention on defensive end Carl Nassib. He is leading the nation with 15.5 sacks. He won the Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award, Ted Hendericks award, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy. He’s the stud of the defense and he has the ability to take over games with his pass rushing skills.
Nick Chubb is the man, he is the heart beat of Georgia’s offense. Unfortunately, he’s injured and won’t be playing in this game. If you haven’t heard of him, make sure to keep track of his performance next season. Sony Michel, once a five-star recruit who hasn’t lived up to the expectations, took over the starting running back duties after Chubb’s departure. Michel is currently ranked sixth in the SEC in rushing with 1,076 yards. He has four games with over 100-yards rushing while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
Senior wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is a player that could go late in rookie drafts this spring. He’s a player you will want to study to see if he’s worth your time. He leads the team in receiving with 751 yards.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Kansas State Wildcats vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
ESPN, 3:20 PM EST
Kansas State won their last three games to become bowl eligible. Their best wins were against West Virginia and Iowa State. Arkansas was able to put it together after being shocked in an upset against Toledo during week two. They have won five of their last six games with upsets over LSU and Ole Miss.
Senior wide receiver Kody Cook is the jack of all trades for Kansas. He is a quick slot receiver who has really good hands. He stepped in at quarterback in relief of Joe Hubener to lead the team to a 24-23 victory over West Virginia.
Junior running back Alex Collins is the workhorse for the Razorbacks. He currently ranks third in the SEC in rushing with 1,392 yards. He has nine games with over 100-yards rushing. He is accountable for 27.13 percent of Arkansas’ offensive production. He’s a physical runner, at 5-11 and 215 pounds he’s a load to bring down.
Senior quarterback Brandon Allen leads the SEC in touchdown passes (29), Total QBR (87.2), and yards per attempt (9.08). His best game was against Ole Miss where he threw for 442 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Razorbacks to a 53-52 victory.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon Ducks vs. Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
ESPN, 6:45 PM EST
This game should be a shootout as both teams can really turn up the heat offensively. Oregon ranks sixth in the nation in points per game (43.2) and TCU is ranked eighth in the nation in points per game (41.7). This will be Oregon’s eleventh straight bowl appearance, while this will be TCU’s tenth bowl appearance in the last eleven seasons.
Sophomore running back Royce Freeman is the player you need to keep your eye on when the Oregon offense takes the field. He is the heart and soul of the offense and a highly touted prospect. He was very productive this season. He ranks fourth in the nation in rushing with 1,706 yards. He took claim to a large market share of the offense by providing 30.88 percent of Oregon’s offensive production. At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Freeman delivers a nice blend of size and agility.
Wide receiver Bralon Addison led the team in receiving with 775 yards. He also leads the team in receiving touchdowns with ten. He’s a playmaker and is very dangerous at returning punts. He has the speed to stretch the defense and burn the secondary.
Let’s shine a light on the defensive side of the ball and take a look at defensive end DeForest Buckner. He finished the season with 9.5 sacks and he was second on the team with 58 tackles. He is projected to be a first round draft pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Todd McShay, draft analyst for ESPN, has him being selected twelfth overall in his most recent mock.
Senior quarterback Trevone Boykin is the leader of the TCU offense, passing for 3,591 yards and 31 touchdowns. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who is very successful as a runner with nine rushing touchdowns. His best game of the season came against Texas Tech where he passed for 485 yards and four touchdowns.
Running back Aaron Green is a player you need to track this offseason. He rushed for 1,171 yards and ten touchdowns. He’s a shifty quick back that can also catch the ball out of the backfield. He should be a mid-late round pick in rookie drafts this spring.
Unfortunately, stud wide receiver Josh Doctson won’t be making an appearance in this year’s Alamo Bowl due to a wrist injury that caused him to miss the final two weeks of the season. He was highly productive this season catching 79 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even with missing two games, he still ranks seventh in the nation in receiving yardage. He has accounted for 42.46 percent of TCU’s passing offense and 20.26 percent of their total offense.
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
ESPN, 10:15 PM EST
Fun fact, the Cactus Bowl debuted in 1989 as the Copper Bowl. The last time these two teams met was in 1979; Arizona won that game 42-7. West Virginia is ranked fifth in the Big 12, while Arizona State ranks fourth in the PAC 12 South.
Junior running back Wendell Smallwood is the workhorse back for the Mountaineers. He was second in the Big 12 in rushing with 1,447 yards. He had eight games where he eclipsed the 100-yard mark. He provided 28.81 percent of his team’s offensive production.
Devin Lucien leads Arizona State in receiving with 930 yards and seven touchdowns. His biggest game came against California where he caught eight receptions for 200 yards and three touchdowns. His teammate, running back Richard Demario leads the team in rushing with 1,050 yards and seven touchdowns. Demario has seven games with over 100 yards rushing.