2017 Cotton Bowl preview

The two winners of the power five conferences that did not make the College Football Playoff will play in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. These teams have played a lot historically, with USC leading the all-time series with a 12-9-1 record. It should be another good one in Dallas. Here is the 2017 Cotton Bowl preview:

USC Trojans (11-2)

2017 Cotton Bowl preview

Sam Darnold (Photo by nj.com)

USC was a trendy pick to make the College Football Playoff, but ended up not being able to live up to expectations. They still won the Pac-12 and got to ten wins, while beating seven different bowl eligible teams. The Trojans lost a close game to Washington State and got blown out by Notre Dame, which cost them their chances to play in the CFP.

The offense has some future NFL players on the unit and score 34.5 points per game. Ronald Jones II and the running game are a huge part of that and average 194.9 yards a game. Jones II has 1,486 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. He is often overlooked because he plays next to Sam Darnold, but is a star in his own right.

Darnold was thought to be the first overall pick, but struggled early on in the season. He has since rebounded and finished well. He has 3,787 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 63.7% completion. After throwing six interceptions in the first three games of the season, Darnold has only thrown six the rest of the season. Deontay Burnett has 74 catches for 974 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the team Other receivers have produced, but will need to step up against Ohio State.

Their defense is average, allowing 26.3 points per game. They rank 56th against the run and 97th against the pass. Defensive linemen Christian Rector and Rasheem Green have created a good pass rushing duo. Rector has 7.5 sacks, while Green has nine. Corner Jack Jones leads the team with four interception. There is talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they are going to be put to the test against Ohio State.

Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

2017 Cotton Bowl preview

J.T. Barrett (Photo by espn.com)

The Buckeyes thought they should have been in the CFP over Alabama, but a loss at Iowa held them back. Other than the loss to Iowa, their only other loss was to Oklahoma. They do have quality wins over Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin on their resume.

Offensively they have stepped up this season by scoring 42.5 points per game. They do have struggles at times, but overall they have had a good year. The Buckeyes do a lot of damage on the ground with 249.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks 15th in the country. J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and quarterback J.T. Barrett create a three headed rushing attack behind Rimington Award-winning center Billy Price. Dobbins has 1,364 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Weber has 608 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Barrett makes the offense dynamic with his running ability with 732 rushing yards and 10 toucdhowns.

Throwing the ball hasn’t been the most consistent thing for Barrett, but he is a very experienced starter. He has 2,939 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 64.7% completion. Barrett threw four interceptions in the loss to Iowa, but otherwise has played well for most of the season. They spread the ball around with eight receivers having over 200 receiving yards. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill are the top receivers with over 500 receiving yards and three touchdowns a piece.

The defense has been really good this season, allowing 19.9 points per game. They rank eighth against the run and 20th against the pass. Their defensive line is one of the best in the country and has helped the Buckeyes get 37 sacks on the year. Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis all are excellent pass rushers that are hard to deal with.

Prediction

Ohio State’s offense will be able to run the ball on USC and will throw to keep them off balance. Darnold has been doing better at protecting the ball, but will be pressured into making mistakes by the Buckeyes’ defensive front.

Ohio State Buckeyes 41 USC Trojans 34

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Arizona Bowl

Utah State and New Mexico State are going up against each other in the 2017 Arizona Bowl. These teams don’t produce a lot of NFL talent, but there are some players from these teams who will be on training camp rosters. Here are the top NFL draft prospects to watch in the 2017 Arizona Bowl:

New Mexico State Aggies 

Jaleel Scott, WR

Scott is the player most likely to get drafted coming out of this game. He has two years of production at New Mexico State and is a big reason why they have one of the best passing attacks in the country. This season Scott has 1,042 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He has shown the ability to make absolutely ridiculous catches this year.

At 6’6″ and 215 pounds, he can be a matchup problem for a lot of smaller corners in the NFL. If he is able to run a good 40 yard dash, the sky is the limit for him.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-6th round

Larry Rose III, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Arizona Bowl

Larry Rose III (Photo by sbnation.com)

Rose has been a big part of the offense during his four year career. He has plenty of reps running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. In his career he has 5,525 yards from scrimmage and 41 touchdowns. This season he has 792 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 474 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.

He is 5’11” and 195 pounds, he will need to add some weight to be an every down back. The good news is that with his pass catching abilities, Rose could play on third downs for a team.

Projected draft range: 7th round-undrafted free agent

Utah State Aggies

Jalen Davis, CB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Arizona Bowl

Jalen Davis (Photo by desertnews.com)

Davis has been getting playing time since his freshman season and hasn’t disappointed. The senior has 11 interceptions, 35 passes defended and four touchdowns in his career. He does it all for Utah State and even has 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks in his career.

He is a little small at 5’10” and 185 pounds, but can add some play strength. At that size, he should also be able to cover the slot. With his production he could be selected on day two if things go his way.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

 

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2017 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl preview

Two .500 teams are going to play in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. Utah State has made several bowl games recently, while New Mexico State hasn’t, but one of the teams will be leaving with a bowl win. Here is the 2017 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl preview:

New Mexico State Aggies (6-6)

New Mexico State is going to their first bowl game since 1960. The Aggies beat the teams they should beat, but were not able to beat a bowl eligible team this season. They may not have many good wins, but getting to a bowl game

2017 Nova Home Loans Arizona bowl preview

Tyler Rogers (Photo by docsports.com)

for the first time since 1960 is a feat in and of itself.

The Aggies score 29.2 points per game, but don’t do much damage on the ground. They average 101.2 yards on the ground per game. Larry Rose III is the leading rusher with 807 yards and nine touchdowns. Jason Huntley has also done some damage with 403 rushing yards.

Passing the ball has been the strength of the team this season. They rank fourth in the country in passing yards per game with 352.6. Quarterback Tyler Rogers has 3,825 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions on 62.3% completion. His go-to-guy is Jaleel Scott, who has 73 catches for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns.

Their defense has been an issue with 30.5 points allowed per game. They rank 65th against the run and 77th against the pass. Sophomore defensive lineman Cedric Wilcotts II has 8.5 sacks on the season to lead the team. With the defense being sub par, Wilcotts will need to pressure the quarterback.

Utah State Aggies (6-6)

2017 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl preview

Jalen Davis (Photo by desertnews.com)

Utah State got to six wins as well and didn’t beat a bowl eligible team either. This is their sixth bowl appearance in seven opportunities since 2011. They missed a bowl game last season, so getting back to it has the program going in the right direction.

The offense averages 31 points per game and 170 rushing yards per game. LaJuan Hunt has 695 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns to lead the team. Other players chip in, but if they are running the ball, odds are it is in Hunt’s or a quarterback’s hands.

Kent Myers started the year as the starter, but that title now goes to Jordan Love. He has thrown for 1,377 passing yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, which is a solid start to a career for a freshman. The ball is spread out in the passing game, but Ron’quavian Tarver and Dax Raymond produce the most. Tarver has 472 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, while Raymond has 414 receiving yards and one touchdown.

They have an average defense that allows 27 points per game. Utah State gives up a lot of yards on the ground and rank 116th against the run. The Aggies are much better against the pass and rank 19th in that category. Senior defensive back Jalen Davis has five interceptions on the season.

Prediction

Tyler Rogers is going up a good passing defense, but should be able to do a solid job against Utah State. Utah State hasn’t been tested by a passing attack quite like New Mexico State’s. Rogers will lead the Agggies to victory for the first time since 1960.

New Mexico State Aggies 33 Utah State Aggies 23

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl

Northwestern and Kentucky will meet in the 2017 Music City Bowl. While these teams don’t usually produce good NFL talent on a consistent basis, there are some players to watch in this game. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl:

Kentucky Wildcats

Josh Allen, DE/LB

Allen has had two really good seasons at Kentucky. In his career he has 20.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. This season he has 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. NFL executives love his versatility, being that he can play both inside and outside linebacker.

He has good size at 6’5″ and 230. With that, and his production, Allen has even seen his name as high as the first round in some mock drafts. That might be a small stretch given the production this season, but he will be taken in the early rounds of the draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Derrick Baity, CB

Baity is only a junior, but may elect to leave for the NFL Draft. In his career he has 108 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and 14 passes defended. He has tons of experience for Kentucky in the SEC, which has seen him go up against some pretty good receivers over the last three seasons.

His biggest asset is his size at 6’3″ and 182 pounds. The length is great for an NFL corner, but he will need to add some strength so that he isn’t pushed off the line of scrimmage.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

C.J. Conrad, TE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl

C.J. Conrad (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Conrad is a good receiving tight end who doesn’t have the best production in his three seasons at Kentucky. That is partially because the last two seasons, Kentucky has emphasized the running game more than the passing game. This season is his best to date with 286 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

At 6’5″ and 245 pounds, Conrad has good size for an NFL tight end. While the lack of production does hurt, teams will look at the tape and see why. He could elect to come back to school for another year and help his draft stock.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Matt Elam, DT

Elam is a former highly-touted prospect, who never really lived up to his potential. Some national pundits have blamed his work ethic or his weight, but the only thing that matters is that he hasn’t produced. In his career he has 50 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

The production is really bad, but his size is what will get him a chance with an NFL team. Elam is 6’7″ and 360 pounds. Those types of players don’t grow on trees and some NFL team will try to mold him into the player he can be.

Projected draft range: 6th round-undrafted free agent

Northwestern Wildcats

Clayton Thorson, QB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl

Clayton Thorson (Photo by insidenu.com)

Thorson is another player that has seen his stock rise this season, but he hasn’t played particularly well. He has 2,809 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. One of the areas he has to work on is making better decisions, because that touchdown to interception ratio is way too close to one. He has completed over 60% of his passes this season.

He has the size to be an NFL quarterback at 6’4″ and 225 pounds. Thorson has some mobility, but has shown improved passing from the pocket, which will appeal to NFL teams.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Godwin Igwebuike, S

Igwebuike is the senior leader on the Northwestern defense. He has 318 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, seven interceptions and 23 passes defended in his career. This season he has 72 total tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended.

At 6’0″ and 212 pounds, size won’t be an issue for Igwebuike. He will likely get drafted in the middle to late rounds of the NFL draft.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Justin Jackson, RB

Jackson is 12th on the all-time rushing list for college football with 5,283 rushing yards. In addition to the great amount of rushing yards, Jackson has totaled 39 rushing touchdowns, 848 receiving yards and one receiving touchdowns. His production is unquestionable, especially against Big Ten competition.

He fits right in the mold of an NFL running back at 5’11” and 200 pounds. The fact that he can make plays catching the football bodes well for his draft stock and future playing time.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

 

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2017 Music City Bowl preview

The Big Ten and SEC will go at it in the 2017 Music City Bowl. Northwestern and Kentucky both had solid seasons and will be looking to cap it off with a win. Here is the 2017 Music City Bowl preview:

Kentucky Wildcats (7-5)

2017 Music City Bowl preview

Benny Snell (Photo by kykernel.com)

Kentucky got to bowl eligibility for the first time under Mark Stoops and beat three bowl eligible teams in the process. The Wildcats were able to beat Southern Miss, Missouri and South Carolina for solid wins. Stoops got the program going in the right direction and now has to sustain it.

The offense scores just 25.9 points per game and is built around the offensive line. Running back Benny Snell is one of the most overlooked players in the country, but produces a lot for Kentucky. He is the SEC’s second leading rusher and has 1,318 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. Snell is a workhorse running back who has 256 carries on the season. Quarterback Stephen Johnson is the second leading rusher with 358 yards and three touchdowns.

Johnson leads the offense from the quarterback position with 2,048 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been great at protecting the football, which is important with a workhorse running back like Snell. Garrett Johnson is the leading receiver with 500 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Tight end C.J. Conrad is a great receiver as well with 286 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

The defense has been an enigma allowing 28.6 points per game. They rank 61st against the run and 112th against the pass. Linebacker Josh Allen has created some draft buzz around his name. The junior has 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks on the season.

21 Northwestern Wildcats (9-3)

2017 Music City Bowl preview

Justin Jackson (Photo by usatoday.com)

Northwestern started off the season with a 2-3 record, but haven’t lost since. They have beaten Iowa and Michigan State for some good wins and they have only lost to bowl eligible teams. A seven game win streak is nice, but getting to 10 wins would be better for the Northwestern program.

Offensively, the Wildcats score 29.7 points per game. They also have a quality running back in Justin Jackson, who ranks 12th on the all time rushing list. This season he has 1,154 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Freshman Jeremy Larkin provides relief with 391 rushing yards on the season.

Clayton Thorson has drawn the eye from NFL scouts and provides a pocket-passer who can run. He has 2,809 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He completes over 60% of his passes, but does need to make better decisions with the football. Bennet Skowronek is the leading receiver with 619 yards and five touchdowns.

The Wildcats’ defense is what has propelled this team to success and allows 19.3 points per game. They rank 10th against the run and 98th against the pass. Freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher looks like he may be one of the all time greats and already has 108 total tackles on the season.

Prediction

Northwestern’s defense will be the key to this game. They will key on stopping Snell and make Johnson beat them with his arm. While pass defense is a liability of the Northwestern defense, Johnson and his receivers haven’t proven to they can beat a team without a solid running game.

Northwestern Wildcats 29 Kentucky Wildcats 24

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl

The Arizona State Sun Devils and the N.C. State Wolfpack will meet in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl. There are some top notch players in this game that will be drafted. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl:

N.C. State Wolfpack

Bradley Chubb, DE

Chubb could have left college after last season, but chose to go back to school for one more year. In his career, he has 54.5 tackles for loss and 25 sacks. This season Chubb has 23 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He has shown the ability to pass rush and defend the run.

He is 6’4″ and 275 pounds which is decent size for an NFL pass rusher. Chubb is currently questionable for this game with an upper-body injury. If healthy he is a sure-fire top 15 pick.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Jaylen Samuels, H-Back

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Jaylen Samuels (Photo by backingthepack.com)

Samuels is a player who does a little bit of everything for N.C. State. He has 2,892 yards from scrimmage and 46 touchdowns in his career. This season he has 934 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. He is a touchdown machine that N.C. State tries to get the ball to as often as possible.

He is 5’11” and 228 pounds, but doesn’t really have a set position. Being a “positionless” player can be both a good and bad thing for a prospect, but he has a lot of production.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Ryan Finley, QB

Finley has seen his stock rise in the past several weeks. He is an efficient passer that has 3,196 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Throughout his career at both Boise State and N.C. State, Finley has proven to complete a high percentage of his passes and also protects the football.

At 6’4″ and 210 pounds, Finley has good enough size to make it in the NFL, but will need to add some weight to prevent injury. While he won’t be one of the first quarterbacks selected, Finley could fight his way onto an NFL roster.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-6th round

Nyheim Hines, RB

The junior running back has had a break out season for N.C. State. Hines has 1,034 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He has also shown a proficiency for catching the ball out of the backfield as well, making him a solid prospect. Hines may elect to go back to school to improve his draft stock more.

At 5’9″ and 197 pounds, Hines can at least carve out a role as a third down back. He also can make a team based on his kick and punt return abilities.

Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round

Arizona State Sun Devils

Kalen Ballage, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Kalen Ballage (Photo by ncaa.com)

Ballage can run the ball well and also has a lot of experience catching the ball. In his career, he has 2,646 yards from scrimmage and 29 touchdowns. This season, he doesn’t get all of the playing time, but still has 738 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.

Even though he can make plays in the passing game, Ballage is actually 6’3″ and 230 pounds. As a big back, who can also catch passes, Ballage will get a shot to make an NFL team.

Projected draft range: 6th round-undrafted free agent

 

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2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl preview

The Hyundai Sun Bowl is played in El Paso, Texas and will feature the N.C. State Wolfpack and the Arizona State Sun Devils. Both teams came up a couple of games short of being able to represent their divisions in their conference championship games. Here is the 2017 Hyunday Sun Bowl preview:

24 N.C. State Wolfpack (8-4)

2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl preview

Jaylen Samuels (Photo by twitter.com)

After losing to South Carolina in the season opener, the Wolpack went on to win their next six games. Their solid wins include: Boston College, Louisville, Florida State and Marshall. Dave Doern has the program heading in the right direction.

The offense averages 30.6 points per game, which is above average. They have a solid running game, led by Nyheim Hines. He has 1,040 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 5.7 yards per carry. His speed makes him a dynamic weapon. Reggie Gallaspy and Jaylen Samuels also get some carries, with both of them having over 350 yards rushing.

Ryan Finley has molded himself into a legitimate NFL Draft prospect after transferring in from Boise State. He has thrown for 3,200 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions this season on 64% completion. Kelvin Harmon is his leading receiver with 993 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but Jaylen Samuels is a matchup nightmare. Samuels has 551 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

The defense has also been decent, allowing 24.8 points per game. They rank 27th against the run and 95th against the pass. Defensive end Bradley Chubb is a great NFL Draft prospect and has dominated this season with 10 sacks. He will have to be double teamed.

Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5)

2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Manny Wilkins (Photo by azcentral.com)

Arizona State has gotten rid of Todd Graham and has brought in Herm Edwards. They beat some solid teams in Arizona, Utah, Washington and Oregon to help them get bowl eligible. While Graham isn’t the answer, it was still a decent season for the Sun Devils.

They score 33.6 points per game, which is a solid mark. The Sun Devils run the ball decently well at 179.9 points per game. Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage split carries in the backfield. Richard has 977 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, while Ballage has 657 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The two are both good college running backs and help keep each other fresh.

Manny Wilkins has had a great season at quarterback for the Sun Devils. He has 2,918 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions on 63.5% passing. N’Keal Harry has been the leading receiver and has 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Their defense is below par, allowing 31.3 points per game. The Sun Devils rank 78th against the run and 119th versus the pass. Senior linebacker Alani Latu has seven sacks on the season and will be tasked with getting after Finley.

Prediction

The Wolfpack have an NFL-caliber quarterback and pass rusher on the same team, which is a good sign. Finley will protect the ball and distribute it to Hines and Samuels to make plays. Chubb will get after the quarterback and make it harder for the Sun Devils to move the ball.

N.C. State Wolfpack 36 Arizona State Sun Devils 32

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Belk Bowl

The 2017 Belk Bowl has some pretty good players in it between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. While there aren’t a lot of players in this bowl game that can make it to the next level, the ones that can are really good. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Belk Bowl:

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Duke Ejiofor, DE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Belk Bowl

Duke Ejiofor (Photo by twitter.com)

Ejiofor put himself on the map after a great 2016 season. The senior has 41.5 tackles for loss and 24 sacks in his career. Although 2016 was his best season statistically, this year he has been solid with 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

He isn’t the biggest pass rusher at 6’4″ and 275 pounds, but should be big enough for NFL standards. It would be a stretch to see him get drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but getting selected on day two is probable.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Cam Serigne, TE

Serigne was thought of as a better prospect before the season started, but will still likely be drafted. He has 1,963 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches in his career. This season he found the end zone the most out of any of his previous years with eight receiving touchdowns.

Height will be an issue for Serigne, as he is 6’3″ and 240 pounds. He won’t create too many match up problems with that size, but has been successful in college without having a great quarterback.

Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round

Texas A&M Aggies

Christian Kirk, WR

Kirk is a supremely talented wide receiver who is going to be an early pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has seen his production go down every year, but it in large part is due to quarterback play. In his career, the junior has 2,667 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. This season he has 730 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Kirk may only be 5’11” and 200 pounds, but he has shown the ability to play on the outside, much like Odell Beckham Jr. He has added value as a kick returner that will help teams get him on the field often. He won’t be waiting too long in the draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Armani Watts, S

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Belk Bowl

Armani Watts (Photo by expressnews.com)

Watts has been playing for Texas A&M for what seems like forever, which is usually the sign of a good player. He has 324 total tackles, 10 interceptions, 17 passes defended, five fumble recoveries and seven forced fumbles in his career. This season, as the undisputed leader of the defense, Watts has 87 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions, two fumbles recovered and three forced fumbles.

He is 5’11” and 205 pounds, but that is good enough to play free safety in the NFL. Watts covers a lot of the field and is able to make a lot of plays on the ball.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

 

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2017 Belk Bowl preview

Wake Forest and Texas A&M will play each other in the 2017 Belk Bowl. Wake Forest is playing in its second straight bowl game, while the Aggies are making their ninth straight bowl appearance. Here is the 2017 Belk Bowl preview:

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-5)

2017 Belk Bowl preview

Duke Ejiofor (Photo by athlonsports.com)

The Demon Deacons beat four bowl eligible teams on their way to seven total wins. Their biggest wins came over N.C. State and Louisville, which shows that they can beat some quality teams.

Offensively, Wake Forest was able to score 33.7 points per game. They were able to lean on the ground game, which ranks 45th in the country in rushing yards per game. Running back Matt Colburn has 745 rushing yards and six touchdowns as the leading rusher. Quarterback John Wolford helps out with 615 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Wolford also leads a pretty good passing attack that averages 266.6 passing yards per game. This season, Wolford has thrown for 2,792 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 63.7% completion. He has protected the football well, which has paid off. Several receivers produce for Wolford, but the leading receiver is Greg Dortch. Dortch has 722 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Tight end Cam Serigne produces in the red zone with eight touchdowns catches this season.

The defense allows 26.3 points per game. They rank 92nd against the run and 103rd against the pass. Senior defensive end is the best player on the defense with 14.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks on the season. He will be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Texas A&M Aggies (7-5)

2017 Belk Bowl preview

Christian Kirk (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Kevin Sumlin is out and Jimbo Fisher is in at Texas A&M. Coaching changes always make a weird impact on bowl games, but Texas A&M should have the talent and matchup to not let it get to them. In their seven wins this season, they were only able to beat one bowl eligible team.

The offense averages 32.8 points per game, but it hasn’t been pretty. Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford provide a decent duo in the backfield. Williams has 733 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Ford has 493 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Quarterback Kellen Mond runs when he can and has 340 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Nick Starkel has been the main quarterback when healthy for the Aggies. He has 1,294 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions on 57% completion. The freshman has played well at times and has had a great receiver in Christian Kirk to lean on. Kirk, despite the inconsistencies at quarterback, has 796 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He is also a huge help in the return game for the Aggies.

Their defense isn’t as good as in years past and allow 28.7 points per game. They rank 64th against the run and 66th against the pass. Armani Watts has been a mainstay in the secondary for four years. This season 87 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions and five passes defended.

Prediction

The Texas A&M defense will make plays to stop Wake Forest and then the playmakers on Texas A&M will do their part. Starkel isn’t the greatest quarterback, but he is serviceable. If Kirk touches the ball a lot, the Aggies will be able to win.

Texas A&M Aggies 29 Wake Forest Demon Deacons 23

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

The 2017 Holiday Bowl will feature the Michigan State Spartans and the Washington State Cougars. Both coaches have created quality programs that have attracted some good talent. With that, some of these players will be playing in the NFL soon. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl:

Washington State Cougars

Luke Falk, QB

Falk has cemented himself as one of the best statistical quarterbacks in Pac-12 history. The senior has 14,481 passing yards, 119 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in his career. He also has 68.3% of his passes in his career. This season he has 3,580 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has been pulled from games for slow starts by Mike Leach, but he is still a good prospect.

He will have to add weight to his 223 pound frame, but is big enough to see over offensive lines at 6’4″ tall. Falk will have to answer questions about why he was pulled from some games and if he can make it in the NFL coming out of Washington State’s system.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Andre Dillard, OT

Dillard is a redshirt junior who may elect to leave school early. He has started the last two seasons at left tackle for the Cougars. While he has a lot of experience pass blocking in Washington State’s system, run blocking is not something he has been given the opportunity to show that he can do on a consistent basis.

At 6’5″ and 295 pounds, Dillard will need to add some strength before getting to the next level. The run blocking and physicality of Dillard will be a concern.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Hercules Mata’afa, DE

Mata’afa has produced since the second he stepped on Washington State’s campus. In his career, t

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

Hercules Mata’afa (Photo by cougarcenter.com)

he junior has 44.5 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. This season Mata’afa has 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Mata’afa doesn’t have the prototypical size for a defensive end in he NFL at 6’2″ and 252 pounds. He makes up for his lack of size with strength and explosiveness. If he produces, no one will care about his size.

Projected draft range: 4th round-7th round

Cole Madison, OT

Madison plays right tackle for the Cougars. He too has gotten playing time since his freshman season and started since his sophomore year. With the same questions about run blocking as Dillard, Madison will likely be picked even later than Madison.

At 6’5″ and 315 pounds, Madison has decent enough size to play on the offensive line in the NFL. He will likely be a late round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

L.J. Scott (Photo by todaysu.com)

Scott is a big, powerful back for the Spartans. The junior has 785 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the season. He has some issues with protecting the football, but has shown an increased role in the passing game this season with 120 receiving yards and a score.

At 6’1″ and 230 pounds, Scott can run with some ferocity, but will need to show he is fast enough to be an NFL running back. If he runs a decent 40 time, he could be selected on day two of the draft.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Brian Allen, OG/C

Allen has four years of production at Michigan State and is now one of the best centers in the country. He hasn’t blocked for an explosive offense, but has plenty of reps for NFL scouts to go over.

His limitation is his size at 6’2″ and 305 pounds. Being a center, that won’t be a huge issue, but it extremely limits the amount of teams that will take a chance on him.

Projected draft range: 7th round-undrafted free agent

 

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