NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Penn State and Washington both have a lot of quality players and as a result are in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. There is plenty of talent on the field and NFL scouts will be watching intently. Here are the top NFL draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl:

Washington Huskies 

Vita Vea, DT/NT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Vita Vea (Photo by

Vea is one of the best defensive tackles in the class. He has experience on a three man defensive front, but could easily fit into a 4-3 system as well. Because he plays on a three man front, he doesn’t produce a lot, but he does take on a lot of double teams. This season Vea has 37 total tackles, 5.5 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

He has tremendous size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds and a lot of teams will want to take a chance on him based on that. Vea will likely go in the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Dante Pettis, WR

Pettis produces in a lot of ways for the Huskies. He is a record setting return man and also catches a lot of passes. This season he has 62 catches for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. He has nine career punt returns for touchdowns and is a threat every time he touches the ball.

He has decent size at 6’1″ and 195 pounds, but his speed is his greatest asset. His ability to play on special team elevates his draft stock. Pettis is probable to play in the Fiesta Bowl with a leg injury.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-3rd round

Keishawn Bierria, LB

Bierra has gotten a lot of playing time at Washington. He has 229 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. While he has only played nine games this season, he still has 49 total tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack. His production isn’t great, but he is a good player on a good defense.

He isn’t the biggest at 6’1″ and 223 pounds, but has good enough size. He will be selected in the late rounds of the draft, but will get a chance to make a roster.

Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round

*LB Azeem Victor is out for this game with a suspension.

Other notable Washington prospects: LB Azeem Victor (4th round-5th round), RB Myles Gaskin (5th round-7th round), C Shelton Coleman (5th round-7th round), QB Jake Browning (6th round-undrafted free agent)

Penn State Nittany Lions

Saquon Barkley, RB

Barkley is one of the best prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He will be selected in the top ten and has 3,706 rushing yards, 1,157 receiving yards and 49 touchdowns in his career. Barkley is one of the most complete backs to ever come out of college and is able to do just about everything well.

He is well-built at 5’11” and 228 pounds, which has put him in good position to get drafted early. If he lasts past the top ten picks, it will be a surprise.

Projected draft range: Top 10 pick

Mike Gesicki, TE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Mike Gesicki (Photo by

Gesicki has really produced the past two seasons for Penn State. In his four seasons as a Nittany Lion, he has 1,419 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. This season, he has become a great red zone target and has nine receiving touchdowns.

At 6’5″ and 257 pounds, Gesicki is big enough to handle tight end duties in the NFL. He will be one of the first tight ends selected, but that might mean being taken on day two or three.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Jason Cabinda, LB

Cabinda is the defensive leader of Penn State. He has 281 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his career at Penn State. This season he has 86 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He doesn’t produce as much as other linebackers, but still is one of the best players on the field.

He is 6’1″ and 234 pounds, which isn’t the biggest, but he can be successful. Cabinda is a prime candidate for the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Other notable Penn State prospects: S Marcus Allen (4th round-6th round), QB Trace McSorley (6th round-undrafted free agent), OT/G Brendan Mahon (Undrafted free agent)


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2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview

Two teams that had hopes to make the College Football Playoff will be playing in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl. Both Penn State and Washington stumbled a little bit in the regular season, but were still able to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Here is the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview:

11 Washington Huskies (10-2)

2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview

Jake Browning (Photo by

Washington made the CFP last season, but this year will have to settle for the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. They got to 10 wins on the season and beat five bowl eligible teams. Their notable wins include Fresno State and Washington State.

The offense scores 36.9 points per game and has some stars at almost every position. Their running game is the strong point and averages 189.8 rushing yards per game. Myles Gaskin leads the charge with 1,282 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. His backups, Lavon Coleman and Salvon Ahmed, each have over 300 yards on the season in relief.

Jake Browning still operates the offense and has had an efficient season. He has thrown for 2,544 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions on 68.8% completion. Dante Pettis is his favorite target and makes plays on offense and is a record setting return man. He has 62 catches for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. He has blazing speed and gets separation from anyone covering him.

The defense is one of the best in the country, allowing 14.5 points per game. They have the number one rush defense in the country and are 21st against the pass. Defensive lineman Vita Vea is a big part of helping Washington stop the run. He has 37 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season. He is often double teamed, which frees up teammates to get to the ball.

8 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl preview

Saquon Barkley (photo by

Penn State lost two tough games on back to back weeks to knock them out of playoff contention. They lost at Ohio State and at Michigan State, but won every other game on their schedule to get to 10 wins. Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa are some of their notable wins.

The offense has been great the past few seasons and this year they averaged 41.6 points per game. Their running game has one of the best players in the country in Saquon Barkley. Barkley rushed for  1,134 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, while cementing his status as one of college football’s best players. Quarterback Trace McSorley runs the ball well too with 431 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

McSorley had a great season passing the ball with 3,228 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions on 65.3% passing. He has plenty of good targets to throw to between DaeSean Hamilton, Juwan Johnson, Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki. All of the players listed have over 500 yards receiving. Hamilton leads the team with 747 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Their defense has been elite this season and allows 15.5 points per game. They rank 16th against the run and 47th against the pass. Senior linebacker Jason Cabinda is the leader of the defense and has 86 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season.


Penn State will find a way to get Barkley the football, whether it’s handing it to him, throwing it to him or letting him return kicks. Washington’s defense is good, but Barkley will be the best player on the field. Bryce Love was the last running back that Washington played that was somewhat near Barkley’s ability and Love gashed them for 166 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Expect much of the same.

Penn State Nittany Lions 26 Washington Huskies 21


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Five things to watch for in college football week 9

It is coming down to the end of the season, which means more good games are on the way. Here are five things to watch for in college football in week nine:

1. Notre Dame’s offensive line vs. Bradley Chubb

Week 9 college football

Bradley Chubb (Photo by:

Notre Dame is coming off of a good win against USC and now has a bunch of hype surrounding them. N.C. State only has one loss and will be traveling to South Bend with high hopes. This game will be a marquee win for whichever team ends up winning and the game will be won in the trenches.

N.C. State has one of the best defensive linemen in the country in Bradley Chubb. Chubb has 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the season. He has worked his way into being in the talk to be a first round draft pick. Chubb has been able to help the Wolfpack defense to hold opponents to 639 rushing yards on the season. He and the entire N.C. State defensive line will need to step up to stop Notre Dame’s running game.

Josh Adams has worked his way into the Heisman conversation now. He is a big play threat and has had several long runs for touchdowns. The offensive line has been key in clearing holes for Adams. Both Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson anchor the left side of the offensive line and are probably going to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The team that wins the trenches will win the game and move up in the rankings.

2. Big Ten East Clash

Both teams have been waiting to play each other again after last season. Penn State beat Ohio State, which gives the Buckeyes a reason to want revenge, while the Nittany Lions missed the CFP in favor of OSU, so they will want to leave no doubt who the better team is. This game will be one of the best games of the college football season, so it needs to be watched.

Penn State won big over Michigan and looks like one of the best teams in the country. The offense is star-powered with Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 19 points this season. The Nittany Lions still haven’t won a game over a great team so they have a chance to do that for the first time this year.

Ohio State also hasn’t beaten a good team all season. They have likely been itching for a chance to win a big game since their loss to Oklahoma early in the year. The Buckeyes have the top scoring offense in the country and the tenth best scoring defense, albeit against mostly lackluster competition. These units will be put to the test this weekend against Penn State.

The environment will be electric in Columbus on Saturday and the winner will likely make the CFP this time.

3. important Big 12 Shootouts

There are five teams in the Big 12 with one loss or less and four out of the five will be trying to knock each other off this weekend. While there is still a lot of football to be played, this will be a key weekend to figure out who will be in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia matchup in a game in Morgantown, West Virginia. There will be a lot of offense and passing yards, as both teams are ranked in the top five in scoring and passing yards. Whichever defense can get more stops will win the game and put themselves in a good position in this weird round robin Big 12 setup.

In the other game, TCU will take on the hot Iowa State Cyclones. TCU looks like the best team in the Big 12, with a good offense and defense. They are also the only undefeated team left in Big 12 play. Iowa State has a loss to Texas, but got the big upset win over Oklahoma. The Cyclones have gone to Kyle Kempt at quarterback with Jacob Park on injured leave and Kempt has done well. Iowa State is still a pretty big underdog, but they are used to that by now.

4. Pac-12 after dark games

College football week 9

Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy:

Pac-12 after dark always has wild and crazy games and this week is no different. There are two matchups that will be exciting, while also featuring some of the favorites to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

In the first game, Washington State takes on Arizona. Both teams can put up a lot of points. Washington State has only one loss on the season, coming at the hands of Cal. They are still in good position to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and have a great offense. Arizona is a surprise team that could end up winning the Pac-12 South. They have found new life with quarterback Khalil Tate, who has amassed over 1,000 yards in his three starts. There will be a lot of offense and a lot on the line.

The second game on the docket for Pac-12 after dark is USC at Arizona State. Both these teams, along with Arizona and UCLA, are still vying to win the Pac-12 South title. USC just lost to Notre Dame big time and need to get back on track. That starts with Sam Darnold protecting the football better and the defense being more physical. Arizona State surprisingly beat Washington to get on track. The Sun Devils’ defense has stepped up as of late, giving up 17 points in their last two games.

As crazy as it may sound it is likely the Arizona schools that will provide the biggest competition for USC in the south.

5. USF vs. Houston

USF is a team that a lot of people thought would go undefeated due to their easy schedule. There schedule is a little tougher with the emergence of other teams in their conference. Even so, the Bulls have to win out to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

This week they play a Houston team that was supposed to be one of their toughest games of the season. Houston has stumbled a bit, but it will still be a good test for USF. If the Bulls can win this game they will likely win all others until their regular season finale.

If this result holds to form and there are no upsets in the AAC, the last few games will have a lot riding on them. First USF will play UCF in a rivalry game in a battle of unbeaten teams. The winner will go to the AAC Championship Game to face Memphis, who has only one loss. The winner of that game will likely be in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Buckle up. The last few weeks of college football are going to be wild.

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College Quarterbacks Trending Up Coming into The 2017 CFB Season

It’s the dog days of college football. We are a few weeks from removed spring ball and a few weeks away from the start of the summer practice for your favorite team. And every year the same question is posed: Which college quarterbacks are trending up?

By the end of the college football year come back to this article, and see which college quarterbacks stayed calm in the pocket or got sacked. Let’s get into the list:

Jake Bentley- South Carolina

Photo By: Gerry Melendez/ The State

By the end of the SEC year there were three young quarterbacks emerging onto the scene, South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, Georgia’s Jacob Eason and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Bentley is on my list because he has proven to me to be a more effective passer than those three in only six games. And Gamecock Central‘s Collyn Taylor agrees with me. When we talked I asked him whose skills are you more confident in between these three and he said Bentley.

“I think I’d be more confident in Bentley’s skills. He was supposed to be in high school last season and came in made some phenomenal throws without a good offensive line. He’s shown he has an SEC caliber arm and can learn on the fly. If he continues to develop like he has been, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference next season,” said Taylor.

Last year, Bentley really only had one bad game. When the Gamecocks visited their upstate rival Clemson, no one played well. But besides that game he shows so much promise.

Coming into the season, he didn’t start but when came in he balled out. The first three weeks Bentley did something USC hasn’t seen since 2014, three wins in a row. Remember, this guy still could have been playing in high school. He started the last seven games and won four of those games. His best game being against the Missouri Tigers. He threw for 254 yards on over 70 percent passing (second game in a row he did it) and two touchdowns.

More than anything he has given USC fans something to believe in. From a pure passing set, he is already one of the best QBs in Gamecock history. With the Gamecocks riding in the “Bentley”, they should be fighting for a SEC East title.

Mason Rudolph- Oklahoma State

Photo By: Sue Ogrocki/ AP

From a university in South Carolina to kid from the Palmetto State, Mason Rudolph has been one of my favorite quarterbacks since I saw him take down 4-Star QB and then-Georgia commit Jacob Park from my high school alma mater, Stratford High.

Last year he backed up his good 2015 campaign with a great 2016 campaign. He increased in completion, attempts, yards, touchdowns and QB rating. And also he had less interceptions down from a 9 in 2015 to only 4 in 2016. He has turned it up and has placed OK State back on the map for more than Mike Gundy telling us he is 40.

Last year his most impressive game had to be when outlasted Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech and won 45-44. He had a higher completion rate and more yards (less attempts) than future first rounder Mahomes. Rudolph finished the game with 395 yards on 71.4 percent passing and a passer rating of 213.5.

He is definitely one of the better quarterbacks Gundy has had in Stillwater but there is still one obstacle in Rudolph’s way: Baker Mayfield and his Oklahoma Sooners.

Deondre Francois- Florida State

Photo By: Joe Rondone/ Democrat

From one 10-3 quarterback to another, Deondre Francois had one heck of a start to his collegiate career last year. Freshman Francois jumped out the gate in a neutral site game against of the better college quarterbacks Chad Kelly and came out battered, scarred and victorious.

Even since that first game, fans across the nation could tell he would be special. In one year, he is already the premier quarterback in the ACC. He finished the season with 3350 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also finished the season out strong winning his last five games.

His most impressive game to me, besides the Ole Miss game, was his first trip to Miami against a good talent in Brad Kaaya quarterbacking the Hurricanes. After the halftime break, he came back down 13-3 to rival Miami. In the third quarter, he led his Seminoles down the field twice for two passing touchdowns in consecutive drives. Both drives starting in Seminoles territory.

Last year he won over the fans and his fellow players and this year he has to win some championships. The ACC is his for the taking and if he can win the ACC he will be in the College Football Playoff.

Trace McSorley- Penn State

Photo By: Abby Drey/ Centre Daily Times via AP

Another 10-3 quarterback, Trace McSorley of Penn State. He and coach James Franklin are restoring the winning ways of Penn State. More or less 2016 was McSorley’s “freshman” campaign. In 2015, he only attempted 40 passes. In 2016, he took college football by storm. He finished with 29 touchdowns, 3614 yards and only 8 interceptions. He probably would not like me saying this but he reminds me of the college-Johnny Manziel/Baker Mayfield QB build. All three are short, true dual threat, accurate and flamboyant. They are big time players and I like that about them.

No better game speaks to that then the 2017 Rose Bowl. It was such a beautiful game. Going back and forth, tooth and nail with the USC Trojans on the biggest stage Penn State has been on in a while. Even though he fell short, he impressed many that night. He finished with 254 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. From 11:44 left in the second quarter to 1:55 left in the third quarter, Penn State scored on seven straight possessions. McSorley had all five of his touchdowns in that span.

Many Nittany Lion fans will remember his three interceptions but he had a adjusted QBR of over 70 and a completion rate over 60 in the game as well.

But the quarterback on the other side of this game might be trending even higher than McSorley.

Sam Darnold- Southern California

Photo By: Mark J. Terrill/ AP

The name everyone has been waiting for: Sam Darnold of Southern California. He didn’t start until Week 4. And since Week 4, the Trojans have not taken an L. Darnold led the Trojans to nine straight wins, which is the second longest active winning streak in college football. In that nine game span, only two games were decided by less than 10 points. He finished the season with 3086 yards, 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on over 67 percent passing.

Just like Trace McSorley, his best game was the 2017 Rose Bowl. He had 453 yards passing, five passing touchdowns and one interceptions. His most important passing touchdown came late in the fourth quarter. He drove his team 80 yards down the field in 39 seconds to tie up the game with his fifth passing touchdown. Eventually, Matt Boermeester would hit the 46-yard field goal and win the game.

Coming into his redshirt sophomore year, he is expected to lead the Trojans to their former glory. Also he has the expectations of being the odds on favorite as the best quarterback coming into the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s see if he can keep trending up this season.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 Rose Bowl Preview

The Big Ten Champion, Penn State Nittany Lions, match-up with the USC Trojans in the 2017 Rose Bowl.

USC Trojans

USC is one of the hottest teams in the country right now after winning eight straight to end the season and finished at 9-3. Their losses were all to good teams. Despite their record, they have only won two games against bowl eligible teams on the season.

Rose Bowl

Adoree’ Jackson (Photo courtesy:

The Trojans started winning games after Sam Darnold took over. He has thrown for 2,633 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Darnold has done all this while completing 68% of his passes. He adds some mobility with 236 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dareus Rogers are the two best receivers for Darnold. Smith-Schuster is a good NFL prospect, but only has 781 receiving yards on the season. The good news is that he has nine touchdowns on the season. Rogers has 654 yards and three touchdowns.

Running back Ronald Jones has had a fantastic season with 1,027 yards rushing and 11 scores. Other running backs have helped the Trojans rush for a total of 2,487 yards, but Jones will see most of the carries.

The Trojans gives up an average amount of passing yards per game at 225. The rush defense is good and gives up 134 yards per game.

Adoree’ Jackson is one of the best athletes in college football and has four interceptions this year. He won’t just have an impact on defense as he is great at returning kicks and punts, as well as lining up on offense occasionally.

Penn State Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions are also on a hot streak and have won nine straight games to sit at 11-2 for the Rose Bowl. Their losses came to Michigan and Pittsburgh. They have key wins over Ohio State, Temple, Minnesota, Maryland, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Rose Bowl

Saquon Barkley (Photo courtesy:

Trace McSorley’s emergence has been amazing and has led to Penn State being good. McSorley has thrown for 3,360 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season. He has only thrown five interceptions on the season. His completion percentage of 58% isn’t great, but it doesn’t hurt as bad as turning the ball over would.

There are a lot of receivers that McSorley can go to, but Chris Godwin is his best target. Godwin has 795 yards receiving and nine touchdowns this season. They have a lot of big play threats with nine receivers with a long reception of 40 yards of above.

At running back, Penn State has one of the best players in the country Saquon Barkley. He has 1,302 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. At 5.3 yards per carry Penn State can lean on him to pick up tough yards.

Penn State has an above average rush defense that allows 154 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is good and gives up just 199 passing yards per game.

Linebacker Brandon Bell has fought injury this season, but has stepped up when healthy. He had 18 total tackles twice this season, once coming in their big game against Ohio State.


USC has too many play-makers on both sides of the ball. Adoree’ Jackson will make plays on defense and in the return game to help the Troans get the win.


USC Trojans 34 Penn State Nittany Lions 25


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