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Dec. 31 college bowl game live open thread

Six (!) bowl games are on tap for New Year’s Eve. There are going to be a lot of 2019 NFL rookies in action today.

Kentucky Wildcats OLB Josh Allen strip sacks Missouri Tigers QB Drew Lock, Oct. 27, 2018.
Kentucky Wildcats OLB Josh Allen strip sacks Missouri Tigers QB Drew Lock, Oct. 27, 2018.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD)

12pm ET, ESPN

Cincy had a HUGE bounceback season under second-year Head Coach Luke Fickell going 10-2 after three consecutive seasons. That being said, they’re still coming out of that curve on the talent front. The defensive tackle combo of Cortez Broughton and Marquise Copeland might be all they’re ready to send this year outside of UDFAs and those two could also go undrafted as well.

The Hokies are headed the other way. Head Coach Justin Fuentes is in his third year and between the results on the field and the recruiting trail, Virginia Tech is falling out of the status they used to carry as an ACC power. They’ve still got NFL-quality prospects to offer, and three of them will be prime candidates for the Los Angeles Rams: DT Ricky Walker, S Reggie Floyd and EDGE Trevon Hill.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Stanford Cardinal

Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)

2pm ET, CBS

Oh, Pitt. You’re so...Pitt. RB Qadree Ollison is gonna make a roster, but I’m not sure the Rams should even consider a running back this year even on Day 3 given the backlog of Malcolm Brown, John Kelly, Justin Davis and now C.J. Anderson. More relevant would be RT/RG Alex Bookser. He could be an interesting Day 3 OL depth pick.

But no, the better NFL stock comes from the Pac-12’s entrant here starting with WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. He good. He real good. Measurables could be an important factor for him at the combine given how important his size is. Reminds me a lot of WR Jaelen Strong, but I was a fan of his coming out of Arizona St. TE Kaden Smith is keeping the tight end pipeline wide open out of Palo Alto. And yes, RB Bryce Love is a fantastic prospect in his own right. But Rams fans need to keep an eye on LB Bobby Okereke. He’s got a bit of Alec Ogletree in him with a bit more physicality inside that would offer stronger linebacking skills than Cory Littleton. Depth options on the offensive line abound as well.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Oregon Ducks

Redbox Bowl (Santa Clara, CA)

3pm ET, FOX

This game got punched up by the news that Oregon QB Justin Herbert had decided to return to school for his final season thus depriving the QB class of one of its best prospects if not its best outright.

Sparty has a ton of strong depth options this year. Rams fans are certainly going to want to see ILB Joe Bachie, EDGE Kenny Willekes, S David Dowell, DT Raequan Williams, CB Justin Layne and even QB Brian Lewerke as a potential backup option behind QB Jared Goff. Strangely, I’m not sure MSU has any offensive line options despite the history at the position and the fact the Rams just added OL Brian Allen last year. Incoming freshman Devontae Dobbs could change that in a few years, but Head Coach Mark Dantonio could use some more wins on the recruiting the battle for Los Angeles’ own Bru McCoy.

Oregon has plenty for Rams fans to look at. C Jake Hanson, a NorCal native, is one of the better centers in the country. S Ugochukwu Amadi is impressive. LB Troy Dye is a contributor. And EDGE Jalen Jenks is going to be one of the more polarizing prospects in the entire draft. He’s got the build and seemingly the technicals. So why hasn’t he produced more? And I’m high on OL Calvin Throckmorton but mostly because of his name. Throckmorton is a powername. Can’t disregard those.

#23 Missouri Tigers vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)

3:45pm ET, ESPN

This is probably the most fun bowl game today. The over/under is currently at about for the defensive fans out there, don’t check this one out.

Who’s the top prospect for Mizzou? QB Drew Lock? TE Albert Okwuegbunam? DT Terry Beckner, Jr.? Not sure, but it’s not WR Emanuel Hall. He’s an interesting prospect as a lanky sprinter who isn’t a great receiver. That being said, I’d rather not face him as a deep threat often.

And then there’s the Pokes. With just six wins to this point, this could end up the worst year under Head Coach Mike Gundy since his first year in charge back in 2005. Did Twitter go in on him? Yes. Did he care?

There’s not a lot to pull from Stillwater this year. EDGE Jordan Brailford and RB Justice Hill are NFLers. Not sure there’s much else to look for as of now.

#22 Northwestern Wildcats vs. #17 Utah Utes

Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)

7pm ET, FOX Sports 1

If the Liberty Bowl is the shootout to entertain passive observers and casual fans alike, this one is going to be for hardcore draftniks.

We mentioned Northwestern ILB Paddy Fisher from an early mock in August. And CB Montre Hartage has intrigue.

For Utah, there’s not a ton more. RB Zack Moss? EDGE Bradlee Anae? CB Julian Blackmon? LB Chase Hansen? Day 3’s Day 3. So be it.

N.C. State Wolfpack vs. #19 Texas A&M Aggies

Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)

7:30pm ET, ESPN

Now this is draft-heavy.

NC St. WR Kelvin Harmon is a potential first-round prospect as is OL Terronne Prescod. C Garrett Bradbury is an NFL center. And QB Ryan Finley could be one of those developmental options that surprises in the NFL coming in as a backup/threshold competitor.

This is probably considered a down year for A&M from a draft perspective, but don’t consider it to last long ESPECIALLY if they’re going to recruit like they are this year under Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. TE Jace Sternberger could be in the conversation for the best tight end prospect this year. RB Trayveon Williams is one my early Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates depending on where he lands. DT Daylon Mack and DL Kingsley Keke are going to attract attention. And EDGE Landis Durham is going to get pull as an A&M pass rusher.