Unless you are from Utah or from Colorado State, on the surface, there doesn't seem to be much reason to watch this game. Early bowl games aren't usually filled with high-caliber prospects. That isn't the case with this tilt. There will be some very good prospects on display.
The best prospect in this game belongs to the Utah Utes and is the little known Nate Orchard. Why is he little known? I don't know, he hasn't gotten much press yet, but watch for him as a fast riser up into the first round. I've already got him there. He was this year's Ted Hendricks award winner, given to the nation's best defensive end. There's a reason for that. Through 12 games, he's had absolutely absurd production, racking up an astounding 17.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end has the frame to fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 and where he wins is through a tremendous burst and active hands. He has one of the best inside moves in college football, so watch for him lining up at RDE.
He'll have a tough go of it in this game, however, because the left tackle he's going up against also projects as a top pick. CSU's Tyler Sambrailo has seen his draft stock range from a mid-day 2 pick all the way to the late first round. In many ways, he seems like the left tackle version of his former teammate Weston Richburg. He's got great length at 6-foot-7, 315 pounds. He's got really good footwork and is best when he's on the move. To add to this, he plays with the correct attitude and will punish rushers early and often. He does need some time in the weight room, however, as he doesn't have a great base. Putting him up against the speed rusher Orchard should be the marquee matchup.
There are some other nice prospects as well in this game. Each team has a corner, Bernard Blake for the CSU Rams and Eric Rowe for the Utes that have length (both over 6-foot). Blake is a bit more natural changing directions and Rowe could be a safety prospect in the mold of Bennett Jackson. Anticipate both going in day 3.
Finally, Garrett Grayson is the quarterback of the Rams and a strong prospect in this year's draft. He'll be a day 3 pick but has an outside chance to go in day 2. He flashes a live arm and while I haven't seen enough of him yet, the games that I've seen, he's exhibited some very nice throws. Could be a developmental pick in Round 4.
Teams: (22) Utah Utes vs. Colorado State Rams
Odds: Utah (-4.5)
Game Time: Saturday, December 20th, 3:30 p.m. EST