One of the best days for bowl-watching this year. I highly recommend grabbing a six-pack and a pizza and vegging out on the couch all day for these games.
DUKE’S MAYO BOWL 12/30 @ 12 pm ESPN
The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is one of my favorites each year because they just get it. The winning coach gets a mayo bath, the social media team promotes endlessly, and it’s usually a pretty good game too. Both teams have plenty of opt-outs and injuries, so playing time in this one could give us a glimpse into these rosters for 2023.
Taulia Tagovailoa, QB – JR: Taulia is probably the best quarterback to play at Maryland this millennium, which isn’t saying much. Rumors that he leaves after this season, but he isn’t going to get a great draft grade so we’ll see him again in 2023.
Roman Hemby, RB – Soph: We expected true freshman Ramon Brown to step in and earn the vacant touches for the Terps, but Roman, not Ramon, made his mark in 2022. Hemby has 1,200 total scrimmage yards this year and has asserted himself as a legitimate devy option heading into 2023.
Jeshaun Jones, WR – JR: Jones has been around forever but hasn’t made the big step we thought was possible after 22/288/5 as a true freshman. With three of Maryland’s top four receivers out of this game (Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus, Jacob Copeland), we’ll see if Jones can put up some decent numbers.
Other: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Octavian Smith Jr., a freshman wide receiver for Maryland. C2C’s own Mike Vallerie has highlighted him as a player he expects to step up in the void left behind by Jarrett, Demus, and Copeland.
tFR Octavian Smith, UMD— Dirty Mike and the Boyds (@FF_DirtyMike) December 2, 2022
Week 13 v. Rutgers
🔹Averaged 22.6 yds per KR (14)
Opportunity. Rakim rumored to portal. Dontay Demus to the draft. There is no clear future to the WR core, let me introduce a guy beating a few year 1 zero marks pic.twitter.com/JNeFZydq3D
NORTH CAROLINA STATE
MJ Morris, QB – FR: Morris stepped up in Devin Leary’s absence and you could barely tell he was a true freshman. After missing some games down the stretch, Morris claims to be completely healthy and I’m assuming he gets the start. Paired with new OC Robert Anae, Morris might be a top-tier option for the next few years.
Jordan Houston/Demie Sumo/Michael Allen, RBs: This backfield has been a mess and I’m not sure anyone is talented enough to establish themselves as a “must have.” I like Allen purely because he’s the youngest of the trio.
Other: As far as I can tell, this is WR Thayer Thomas’ last game for NC State, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to pick a replacement out with him still on the field. Devin Carter is my favorite of the bunch because he’s the most explosive of the group and has a ton of experience.
SUN BOWL 12/30 @ 2:30 pm CBS
As a Pitt fan, I have a rooting interest in this game, but I’m not feeling great about the Panthers’ odds. While UCLA brings all of their main pieces into this one, Pitt is short a starting QB, RB, and is missing several important defensive players, including Sirvocea Dennis, the defensive captain. UCLA head coach Chip Kelly is riding high off one of the biggest recruiting coups of this cycle, as the Bruins flipped five-star quarterback Dante Moore from Oregon just days before the early signing period.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB – SR: DTR has finally run out of eligibility. A UCLA institution, Thompson-Robinson has contributed as a passer and a runner in Kelly’s offense. DTR could be a career backup in the NFL, but that seems like his ceiling.
Zach Charbonnet, RB – SR: Charbonnet rebounded better than expected after he left Michigan. He’s a good athlete with NFL size. He caught 37 passes this season and produced well on those touches. I don’t expect him to get 25+ carries in this one, but we should see him one final time for the Bruins.
Jake Bobo, WR – SR: Bobo has also stated he’ll play. There’s no real NFL fantasy upside here, but he may stick around the league awhile as a special teamer or sa 4th/5th receiver.
Other: We’re all trying to figure out who will be the next starting running back at UCLA. Keegan Jones and TJ Harden should get the first crack at it, although we can’t rule out a transfer at this stage. If Charbonnet’s touches are limited in this one, we may get some more info. We won’t see transfer QB Collin Schlee but he’ll compete with Dante Moore next season. I’m penciling him in as the starter based on the info we have today.
Rodney Hammond, RB – Soph: If not for an injury suffered in the opener against West Virginia, we could be talking about Hammond’s monster season for the Panthers rather than the success that Abanikanda had. Hammond will be the guy in 2023 and will see a large spike in volume this offseason. Expect a nice day from him in this one.
Konata Mumpfield, WR – JR: Mumpfield transferred over from Akron this offseason but never really clicked with Kedon Slovis. He gets to start fresh in 2023 with new QB Phil Jurkovec. He won’t have a big day in this one with Nick Patti getting the start.
Jared Wayne, WR – JR: Did you know that Pitt had a receiver eclipse 1,000 yards this season? No, not the aforementioned Mumpfield. It’s Jared Wayne, the big-bodied possession guy. I wouldn’t expect another season like this one next year, but the floor for the entire receiving corp rises with Jurkovec.
Other: Gavin Bartholomew didn’t have the season we hoped, but probably plays in the NFL some day. Nick Patti is not auditioning for next season, but a big day could be parlayed into a G5 transfer.
ORANGE BOWL 12/30 @ 8 pm ESPN
Orange-ception at its finest in this year’s Orange Bowl. I truly applaud the organizers for making this happen for the first time I can remember. Tennessee and Clemson are the most prominent orange wearers in all of college football. I sent a letter requesting both teams wear orange for this one. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m pretty sure they’re considering it.
If you’re Clemson, you’re disappointed to be playing in this game and not the playoff, especially after how the season began. For Tennessee, this is the best bowl they’ve played for in years. I expect two motivated teams in this game, which is great for entertainment purposes.
Cade Klubnik, QB – FR: We finally get to see Clemson’s QB of the future. Last year’s Elite 11 winner took over the job in the ACC Championship and was impressive. So impressive that he pushed former five-star QB DJ Uiagalelei off the team. This will be his first start in a big moment against a soft defense. I expect Klubnik to play well and cement his spot amongst the best QBs in the 2025 rookie class.
Will Shipley, RB – Soph: While Shipley may not wind up as the second-best running back in the class, he’s still on track to finish as a Day 2 back in 2025. Shipley improved rushing between the tackles this season and finished with over 1,110 yards rushing and 34 receptions for another 200+ yards. Shipley is the most consistent player on this offense will be playing on Sundays.
Antonio Williams, WR – FR: Pretty crazy that two of the most significant players on this team are true freshmen, but it’s true. Williams led Clemson in receiving this year, mostly in a slot role (~85% of snaps) but probably possesses slot/boundary versatility. That’ll be something to monitor later. For now, his athletic ability and shiftiness in space have made him dangerous. There’s a lot of room for growth.
Beaux Collins, WR – Soph: We expected big things out of Collins this season, but Collins did not deliver. His 22 catches ranked fifth on the team, and his 373 yards ranked 4th. I’m worried we’re seeing some stagnation in his development. There’s been a mass exodus of Clemson WRs this offseason, so hopefully, Collins gets a lot of run in this game and flashes.
Other: Soph RB Phil Mafah probably plays in the NFL, but he’s not a leading man here (and won’t be unless something happens to Shipley). He’s a low-end devy priority at this stage. Soph TE Jake Briningstool put up some decent numbers this year but he’s still incredibly skinny for the position. I need to see substantial weight growth by next year to be a believer. We’re all hoping that FR receiver Adam Randall gets involved in this game. Randall got 35 snaps last game but didn’t do anything with it. I’d like to see some production in a game that should be ripe for opportunity.
No Jalin Hyatt. No Hendon Hooker. No Cedric Tillman. Most of the proven talent won’t be playing in this one. That doesn’t mean that the Vols are bereft of talent, though.
Joe Milton, QB – JR: Milton has been around forever at this stage and has the inside track to starting next year. I am decidedly NOT a Milton fan, but Heupel’s offense has worked miracles before and Milton has the inside track to start next year. Milton completed over 60% of his passes for the first time this year and may have the strongest arm I’ve ever seen. So while I’m not acquiring him today, he’s a sneaky add this offseason if everything goes right.
Marquarius White, WR – FR: White is small (5’10, 165 lbs) but incredibly fast. White could assume Hyatt’s productivity in 2023 and beyond, which means he’s a top college fantasy stash for next season.
Bru McCoy, WR – JR: McCoy stepped into Cedric Tillman’s starting spot when he was injured this year but never really had the impact that Tillman did in that role. He gets another chance here to prove he can be a productive member of a high-powered offense.
Jabari Small, RB – JR, Jaylen Wright, RB – Soph: Small and Wright split this backfield evenly this year and were both fairly productive. Without an injury to one, the other is unlikely to hold top value. Both could play in the NFL, but won’t be fantasy relevant.
Other: Freshman back Dylan Sampson flashed a bit this year and figures to be a bigger part of the rotation in 2023. Could true freshman receiver Kaleb Webb flash in this one? Incoming recruit Nathan Leacock will be dressed and warm up with the squad so the pressure is officially on.
GATOR BOWL 12/30 @ 3:30 pm ESPN2
This is one of the weirder matchups of the bowl season. South Carolina ended the year on an absolute tear with big wins over Tennessee and Clemson. With an offensive squad built almost entirely through the transfer portal, did it just take some time to gel?
Notre Dame saw a similar late season resurgence. After dropping games to Marshall and Stanford and playing stinkers against BYU and Cal, the Irish defense got it together and played better in their victory over Clemson and loss to USC.
Audric Estime, RB – Soph: Estime led this room in rushing this year, but it’s an incredibly balanced attack overall. At 227 pounds, Estime is the best in short yardage situations but performed well in other aspects this year too. I still struggle to see NFL athletic ability out of him and but his place in the group should be safe heading into 2023.
Logan Diggs, RB – Soph: Diggs was my favorite back on the roster entering this year but a shoulder injury suffered in the offseason left some uncertainty. Diggs got healthier as the year went on and finished with three 100 yard performances in his final six games. I wouldn’t be shocked to see 1,000 total yards out of Diggs next season and he should feature prominently in this game.
Chris Tyree, RB – JR: Tyree is a the speed back of the crew. Tyree’s a former track star but hasn’t always found his footing at Notre Dame. Tyree had 20 catches on the season but failed to do much with them. He needs a big step next year if he wants to have significant NFL hopes.
Tyler Buchner, QB – Soph: Buchner missed a LOT of football between his junior year of high school and his second year at ND due to injury and Covid. He was not great early in the season and then suffered an injury that kept him out of 10 games. This is probably his last chance to prove himself to the coaching staff before his competition with rumored transferee Sam Hartman over the offseason.
Spencer Rattler, QB – JR: Rattler struggled this year but was a major factor in their upsets at the end of the year. A big performance in this one could push him toward the draft, but another year at South Carolina would be good for him.
Antwane Wells, WR – JR: Wells transferred up from James Madison this offseason and was instantly a difference-maker for the Gamecocks. Wells has excellent size (6’1, 207 lbs) and is definitely an NFL-level athlete. The big decision for Wells? Should he declare for the draft or try to run it back with South Carolina.