The college bowl season is fast approaching the big time games, with New Years Eve bringing the playoff semifinals. We will get a whole lot of big name programs in action starting today, through the New Years holiday weekend. For December 30, we are splitting this into two threads. The first thread will cover the first four games, and one prospect in particular. The second thread will cover one game featuring an old friend.
The latter thread will cover Michigan vs. Florida State in the Orange Bowl. This first thread is for the first four bowl games of the day, including a notable Sun Bowl between North Carolina.
Autozone Liberty Bowl: Georgia (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6)
Time: 9 a.m. PT
TV channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
The 49ers have plenty of pass rush needs, and TCU could offer up a potential specialist in Josh Carraway. Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner put together a look at prospects to watch today, and had this to say about Carraway:
He has a quick first step and could fill the role of a pass-rush specialist in the NFL, but his shortcomings against the run likely make him a Day 2 or 3 pick. Watching him rush Bulldogs QB Nick Eason and try to stop Chubb and Co. will be a good test. This might not be a top-flight, SEC-elite line Carraway is going against, but he can help boost his stock by applying consistent pressure here.
Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 18 Stanford (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4)
Time: 11 a.m. PT
TV channel: CBS
It’s Mitch Trubisky day. If you have been tracking the UNC quarterback much of the season, you likely have a fairly settled opinion of him. If, like myself, you have not watched a lot of college football, this might be your first chance to see a guy in discussion for being the first quarterback off the board.
Pro Football Focus put together a look at notable stats from each bowl game this week, and for the Sun Bowl, they pointed out that Trubisky has an adjusted completion percentage of 68.6 percent when under pressure, which is second-highest in the country. They had this to say about the UNC quarterback
Trubisky is one of the better quarterbacks in the country when under pressure. He averages 6.6 yards per attempt and generally does a good job of getting the ball into the hands of his receivers. He only takes a sack on 15.2 percent of the plays where he’s under pressure, which is a very good mark. He’s also good when he extends the play, as his 110.4 QB rating on throws that take longer than 2.6 seconds ranks 10th in the country.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Nebraska (9-3) vs. No. 21 Tennessee (8-4)
Time: 12:30 p.m. PT
TV channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Another bowl game, and more potential pass rush help. We’ll want to keep an eye on Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. PFF ranks Barnett third in their “pass rush productivity” score. It is one of their signature stats, as opposed to their grading. PFF had this to say about him:
It’s no secret that Barnett is one of the best edge defenders in all of college football. He has 12 sacks and 64 total pressures for the Volunteers defense. He also has 13 pass rushes where he’s beaten his man but no pressure could be recorded (due to a quick pass or scramble). Barnett has also missed just four tackles all season, one of the lowest among interior defenders.
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: South Alabama (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
Time: 2:30 p.m. PT
TV channel: ASN
More potential pass rush help in this one, with South Alabama outside linebacker Randy Allen as a potential player to watch. PFF’s stat of the game points out Allen’s 65 total pressures, which are tops among college outside linebackers. They had this to say about Allen:
Allen is a pass-rushing machine for the Jaguars, with 11 of those 65 pressures resulting in sacks. He didn’t get that many pressures just based on volume either. His pass-rushing productivity of 15.9 ranked sixth at his position. He’s a difference-maker for the Jaguars defense, and can take over a game all by himself with his pass rushing.