Well, we're getting into the good stuff now. Six bowls today and we're approach the first look at the peak of the season on Tuesday.
Still, we're into some goodness today with two disappointing themes: injury and faded programs.
St. Petersburg Bowl (11am ET, ESPN)
Connecticut (6-6, AAC) v. Marshall (9-3, CUSA)
Not a ton here outside of some late day 3 options. Connecticut FS Andrew Adams is a possibility as are Marshall's OT Clint Van Horn and RB Devon Johnson.
Program-wise, it was perhaps a step back for Marshall this year after two seasons of double digit wins under Doc Holliday, though the loss of QB Rakeem Cato was always going to be a challenge. Connecticut, on the other hand, is just now growing into AAC football after two poor years in the conference's first seasons. Perhaps, though, the jump from a 2-10 2014 season to 6-6 this year is indicative of where Bob Diaco is taking the program.
Hyundai Sun Bowl (2pm ET, CBS)
Miami (8-4, ACC) v. Washington St. (8-4, Pac-12)
Another light one for the 2016 NFL Draft, though Rams fans will want at Miami WR Stacy Coley. A big recruit out of high school, Coley had a very impressive 2013 true freshman season. A big setback as a sophomore in 2014 saw a bit of a return to grace in 2015, though QB Brad Kaaya, who himself is a top option from the 2018 QB class, isn't overly locked into Coley. FS Deon Bush is also a legit NFL prospect.
For Wazzu, WR Gabe Marks is also in the draft mix. G Joe Dahl should also draw attention from the Rams.
Program-wise, the latter of today's two themes applies to Miami. For two and a half decades, Miami was one of the biggest programs in college football, both at the level itself and as pertains to the NFL. And yet Miami has finished the season ranked in the top 25 just once in the last decade and that was in 2009. And while Al Golden wasn't able to help them return to prominence, Mark Richt (fresh off his Schottenheimer-fueled firing at the University of Georgia) is returning to his alma mater he once quarterbacked to help lead them as head coach in 2016. Washington State has stuck with Mike Leach to their first winning season with him in four years. Having finished with the best passing yards per game rate in all of college football, you have to wonder if bigger success is coming next year to Pullman.
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (2:20pm ET, ESPN)
Washington (6-6, Pac-12) v. Southern Miss (9-4, CUSA)
The top option from the Huskies is probably OLB Travis Feeney, though WR Jaydon Mickens might get more attention from Rams fans. TE Joshua Perkins and DT Taniela Tupou are late draft options too.
Southern Miss doesn't offer much for this spring outside of RB Jalen Richard who himself is probably a fringe UDFA.
Program-wise, the concerns are growing behind HC Chris Petersen. After turning Boise St. into a national powerhouse, an 8-6 2014 and a successive 6-6 record thus far isn't impressing many. Todd Monken, on the other hand, is making the turnaround a reality at Southern Miss. He took over following the disastrous 0-12 season in 2012. Going 1-11 in year one and 3-9 in year two showed just how devoid of talent the roster was, but at 9-4, Monken is making good on the promise he offered as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (3:30pm ET, ABC)
This is perhaps the most suitable prospect scouting of the day with Indiana's OT Jason Spriggs and QB Nate Sudfeld prime potential targets for the Rams. Duke S Jeremy Cash would be an interesting option as well to watch, but he underwent wrist surgery and is done for the year.
For Indiana, it's their first bowl game since 2007 and just their second since 1993. This isn't your father's Big Ten. Duke, meanwhile, is having a golden era finding their fourth consecutive bowl game under HC David Cutcliffe.
Camping World Independence Bowl (5:45pm ET, ESPN)
Tulsa (6-6, AAC) v. Virginia Tech (6-6, ACC)
Perhaps my favorite sleeper candidate of the day is Tulsa WR Keyarris Garrett. He could creep into Day 2 discussions with a good combine season.
The headlines, though, will all focus on Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer and his final game. He'll be without his top NFL prospect, CB Kendall Fuller, the fourth footballing Fuller out of Virginia Tech: Vincent played at Tennessee under Jeff Fisher for years as a safety, Corey is a WR with the Lions, and Kyle was the Chicago Bears' first round selection as a cornerback in the 2014 NFL Draft. DT Luther Maddie is a fair NFL prospect himself, though it'd be very Fisherball to stack up at DT at this point...
With Beamer retiring, Virginia Tech will turn to former Memphis Head Coach Justin Fuente to take over. Tulsa is now on their fourth coach in 12 years, flirting with periods of major success in Conference USA before moving to the AAC in its second season in 2014. DE Ken Ekanem had a strong 2014, though his 2015 has disappointed. A poor showing against Ohio State alone might be justification enough to see him back for his senior season.
Foster Farms Bowl (9:15pm ET, ESPN)
The best prospect of the day is UCLA LB/RB Myles Jack. Of course, we are fated to say such a thing when he is injured, out with a knee injury from back in September. His combine medical check is (a) incredibly important in general but also (b) perhaps quite important regarding the Rams. If Jack's knee checks out well, he could be a top 10 pick and keep more fitting Rams prospects on the board. UCLA DT Kenny Clark and RB Paul Perkins will also be names popping up frequently in the months ahead. WR Jordan Payton is a name to remember as a mid-round Rams option as well. And while this season perhaps got away from HC Jim Mora, true freshman QB Josh Rosen makes the Bruins' future very, very bright. CB Ishmael Adams might have fans, though he'll probably return for a final season.
Nebraska, on the other hand, might not have a single player taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. Bo Pelini had Nebraska on the fence for years between their former glory days and the failures that preceded him under Bill Callahan. Mike Riley, now in charge, has to be disappointed with the record in 2015, though it did take him a couple of years to build out his program at Oregon St.