We're back continuing the postseason college football Bowl match-ups. There are four slates of games for our pre New Years' Eve Bowl extravaganza. All four Bowl games will showcase several quality draft-eligible prospects, from three stud quarterbacks in the Birmingham Bowl and Belk Bowl (PAXTON LYNCH ALERT), to a few explosive edge rushers in the Music City Bowl and Holiday Bowl. Enjoy today's Bowl action and the last days of your 2015. Happy New Year 49ers Faithful!
* = indicates junior status
+= injury status
Auburn Tigers vs. Memphis Tigers
Location: Birmingham, AL | Legion Field
Game time: 9:00 AM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Gift suite; ESPN beanie; Ogio backpack; Big Game football.
49er players representing their schools: CB Chris Davis - Auburn; OLB Corey Lemonier - Auburn; OG Jordan Devey - Memphis.
Auburn (6-6) enters the postseason after a lackluster regular season and not quite living up to preseason expectations, which is an understatement if there ever was. The match-up is between two Tigers, but in Auburn's case, it's an opportunity for Gus Malzahn to try an avoid his first losing season as Auburn's head coach. As for the play on the field, there is some questions on who will actually start at quarterback for the Auburn Tigers. Redshirt freshman Sean White has been out with an injury, but appears to be relatively healthy for the game. Replacing White for the last four games has been the junior Jeremy Johnson, who struggled early in the season, but has come on as of late. Malzahn believes both quarterbacks can be an impact for the game and be the driving force to end this disappointing season on a good note.
Auburn Draft Prospects:
WR D'haquile "Duke" Williams, No. 1, 6'2 - 224 lbs., 4.54 40 - (2nd round value dropped to 7th-UFA)
WR Ricardo Louis, No. 5, 6'2 - 215 lbs., 4.47 40 - Auburn (7th)
OT *Shon Coleman, No. 72, 6'6 - 313 lbs., 5.18 40 - (1st)
DT *Montravius Adams, No. 1, 6'3 - 296 lbs., 5.14 40 - (3rd-4th)
DE DaVonte Lambert, No. 6, 6'2 - 282 lbs., 4.89 40 - (7th)
OLB Kris Frost, No. 17, 6'2 - 240 lbs., 4.72 40 - (5th-6th)
ILB Cassanova McKinzy, No. 8, 6'2 - 253 lbs., 4.83 40 - (4th)
CB Jonathan Jones, No. 3, 5'9 - 181 lbs., 4.49 40 - (6th)
CB Blake Countess, No. 2, 5'10 - 183 lbs., 4.52 40 - (7th-UFA)
Memphis (9-3) enters the postseason starting off on a tear winning the first eight games of the season only to lose three out of the last four games down the stretch. Moreover, the Memphis Tigers' head coach, Justin Fuente, took advantage of his winning season and parlayed it into a new head coaching gig at Virginia Tech, replacing the well respected Frank Beamer. The Tigers new head coach, Mike Norvell, leaves Arizona State as their offensive coordinator and at 34, is the youngest head coach in Football Bowl Subdivision. In the meantime, the Tigers co-offensive coordinator, and running backs coach, Darrell Dickey will serve as the interim coach during the Bowl game. With Auburn's starting quarterback in question, Memphis is extremely solid at the position with the fascinating and talented junior, Paxton Lynch. Although Lynch has yet to let his draft intentions known, many experts predict he'll make the leap and could possibly be the first quarterback selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Memphis Draft Prospects:
QB Paxton Lynch, No. 12, 6'6 - 230 lbs., 4.95 40 - (1st)
OT Taylor Fallin, No. 77, 6'6 - 325 lbs., 5.39 40 - (6th-7th)
NC State Wolfpack vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Location: Charlotte, NC | Bank of America Stadium
Game time: 12:30 PM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Shopping trip to Belk department store; Fossil watch.
49er players representing their schools: CB Dontae Johnson - NC State.
NC State (7-5) started off the season with a bang winning four straight games, but after losing the following two games, the Wolfpack alternated a win and a loss each week for the rest of the season. Leading the Wolfpack is impressive senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett showcases an excellent combination of size (6'4" - 235 lbs.), speed, and athleticism with a big arm capable of making all NFL level throws. He displays good patience and solid pocket presence with excellent vision and awareness, superb mobility (very strong and hard to bring down), and improving accuracy. The game will be the sixth meeting between the two teams, and look for NC State to increase the lead in the series which currently stands at 3-2.
NC State's Draft Prospects:
QB Jacoby Brissett, No. 12, 6'4 - 235 lbs., 4.76 40 - (3rd-4th)
OT/OG Joe Thuney, No. 54, 6'4 - 295 lbs., 5.21 40 - (7th)
OG/OT Alex Barr, No. 71, 6'7 - 318 lbs., 5.41 40 - (7th-UFA)
CB Juston Burris, No. 11, 6'0 - 207 lbs., 4.58 40 - (7th)
FS Hakim Jones, No. 20, 6'1 - 205 lbs., 4.63 40 - (7th)
Mississippi State (8-4) is coming into the postseason with a disappointing loss against their instate rivals Ole Miss. Nevertheless, the Belk Bowl will be the Bulldogs' sixth consecutive Bowl and 19th in school history. The Bulldogs also have a very talented quarterback leading the team in senior Dak Prescott. Prescott is a solid mobile quarterback with an improved game in the pocket. He shows good awareness and the capability to go through his progressions, but also explodes out of the pocket using his agility and athleticism to be a playmaker on the field. Prescott displays a good strong arm, nice touch on his throws, patience in the pocket, and is a dual-threat playmaker. Look for the Prescott vs. Brissett match-up to be an outstanding one.
Mississippi State's Draft Prospects:
QB Dak Prescott, No. 15, 6'2 - 230 lbs., 4.72 40 - (3rd)
WR *De'Runnya Wilson, No. 1, 6'4 - 225 lbs., 4.64 40 - (2nd-3rd)
DT *Chris Jones, No. 96, 6'5 - 308 lbs., 5.12 40 - (4th)
+CB Will Redmond, No. 2, 6'0 - 185 lbs., 4.45 40 - (2nd-3rd) Torn ACL.
CB Taveze Calhoun, No. 23, 6'1 - 185 lbs., 4.53 40 - (6th)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Louisville Cardinals
Location: Nashville, TN | Nissan Stadium
Game time: 4:00 PM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch.
49er players representing their schools: DL Tony Jerod-Eddie - Texas A&M.
Texas A&M (8-4) enters the postseason winning three of their last five games, and is competing in their seventh straight Bowl game (longest streak in school history). Although the Aggies finished with a winning record, there was turmoil throughout the season. The locker room was divided and a lot had to do with the decision making in swapping out two former five-star quarterbacks (Kyle Allen and Kyle Murray) in and out of the lineup like a dysfunctional game of musical chairs. Ultimately, the risk did not pay off, since both Allen and Murray decided to leave and transfer away from Texas A&M earlier this month, leaving third string quarterback Jake Hubenak heading into the Bowl game. One thing head coach Kevin Sumlin now has going into the game and into the 2016 season is stability at the quarterback position, forced stability. Nevertheless, the Aggies are looking to win their fifth straight bowl game in the last five seasons.
Texas A&M's Draft Prospects:
RB Tra Carson, No. 21, 5'11 - 235 lbs., 4.63 40 - (6th)
OT *Germain Ifedi, No. 74, 6'5 - 325 lbs., 5.34 40 - (1st-2nd)
OG Joseph Cheek, No. 79, 6'6 - 310 lbs., 5.27 40 - (7th)
C Mike Matthews, No. 56, 6'2 - 290 lbs., 5.16 40 - (7th)
DE *Daeshon Hall, No. 10, 6'5 - 260 lbs., 4.77 40 - (3rd)
P Drew Kaser, No. 38, 6'3 - 210 lbs., 4.97 40 - (7th)
After starting the season with three straight losses, Louisville (7-5) blasted through the rest of the regular season winning seven out of the last nine games gaining a Bowl birth. The Belk Bowl will be the Cardinals 20th postseason appearance and will be the fourth time the two teams have met, where the Aggies lead the series 3-0. The Cardinals have the 14th ranked defense in the nation allowing 323 yards per game; therefore, look for them to take advantage of Aggies' quarterback Jake Hubenak's inexperience. Moreover, keep an eye on junior defensive end Devonte Fields, who has had a resurgence at Louisville after a rocky few years with an injury and off-field issues following a sensational freshman season at TCU in 2012. Look for the Cardinals to get their first Bowl win since 2013.
Louisville Draft Prospects:
DT Sheldon Rankins, No. 98, 6'1 - 303 lbs., 4.92 40 - (3rd)
DT Pio Vatuvei, No. 44, 6'2 - 296 lbs., 5.07 40 - (UFA)
DE *Devonte Fields, No. 95, 6'4 - 254 lbs., 4.74 40 - (4th)
ILB James Burgess, No. 13, 6'0 - 230 lbs., 4.72 40 - (5th-6th)
SS *Josh Harvey-Clemons, No. 25, 6'4 - 230 lbs., - (6th)
National Funding Holiday Bowl
No. 25 USC Trojans vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Location: San Diego, CA | Qualcomm Stadium
Game time: 7:30 PM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; cap.
49er players representing their schools: C Marcus Martin - USC; RB Reggie Bush - USC; CB Marcus Cromartie - Wisconsin.
USC (8-5) is making their 52nd Bowl appearance in school history and 2nd consecutive appearance at the Holiday Bowl. After a tough loss to Stanford at the PAC-12 Championship, the Trojans look to end a rocky season on a positive note. Earlier in the season the Trojans fired head coach Steve Sarkisan; however, much to the delight of USC players, interim head coach Clay Helton was named the permanent head coach of the program. Under Helton, USC has turned into a physical running team taking advantage of a three headed backfield of Justin Davis, Ronald Jones II, and Tre Madden. The Trojans also have been taken advantage of quarterback Cody Kessler's efficiency and impressive accuracy. Kessler's field intelligence has shown throughout the season, where he has displayed great vision, pocket awareness, and sound instincts efficiently passing for the Trojans with a 67.6% passing percentage in 2015. The Trojans will need special performances from their athletically skilled players facing a very stout Wisconsin defense.
USC's Draft Prospects:
QB Cody Kessler, No. 6, 6'1 - 215 lbs., 4.88 40 - (5th)
RB Tre Madden, No. 23, 6'0 - 228 lbs., 4.53 40 - (5th)
FB Soma Vainuku, No. 31, 6'0 - 258 lbs., 4.83 40 - (7th-UFA)
+C Max Tuerk, No. 75, 6'6 - 285 lbs., 5.12 40 - (2nd-3rd) Torn ACL.
DT Delvon Simmons, No. 52, 6'5 - 295 lbs., 5.04 40 - (7th)
DE Greg Townsend Jr., No. 93, 6'3 - 275 lbs., 4.86 40 - (7th-UFA)
ILB Anthony Sarao, No. 56, 5'11 - 235 lbs., 4.73 40 - (7th-UFA)
OLB *Su'a Cravens, No. 21, 6'1 - 225 lbs., 4.58 40 - (1st-2nd)
CB Kevon Seymour, No. 13, 6'0 - 187 lbs., 4.44 40 - (3rd)
Wisconsin (9-3) currently leads the Big Ten with their 14th consecutive Bowl appearance, the longest streak in the conference. The Badgers roll into the postseason winning six of their last seven games, and will be the sixth meeting between the two programs with USC leading the series 6-0. Wisconsin brings a very solid defensive ranking 3rd nationally in total defense (267.1 yards per game) and leads the nation in scoring defense allowing a paltry 13.1 points per game. Two outstanding edge linebackers on display for the Badgers are senior Joe Schobert and junior Vince Biegel (49ers possibility), and combined they wreak havoc on opposing teams where the duo leads the nation in sacks (17.5). Look for the Badgers to control the clock with their running game and impressive stout defense trying to lock down the athletic and explosive Trojan offense.
Wisconsin's Draft Prospects:
QB Joel Stave, No.2, 6'5 - 225 lbs., 4.93 40 - (7th-UFA)
RB *Coreyo Clement, No. 6, 5'11 - 219 lbs., 4.54 40 - (3rd)
FB Derek Watt, No. 34, 6'2 - 232 lbs., 4.78 40 - (6th)
OT Tyler Marz, No. 61, 6'7 - 318 lbs., 5.34 40 - (6th)
OLB *Vince Biegel, No. 47, 6'3 - 246 lbs., - (2nd-3rd)
OLB Joe Schobert, No. 58, 6'1 - 236 lbs., - (3rd-4th)
CB Darius Hillary, No. 5, 5'11 - 185 lbs., 4.52 40 - (7th-UFA)
FS/WR Tanner McEvoy, No. 11, 6'6 - 229 lbs., 4.57 40 - (6th)
SS Michael Caputo, No. 7, 6'0 - 205 lbs., 4.58 40 - (7th-UFA)