College Football's second season continues its march on Tuesday with the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Texas Bowl. As New Year's approaches, we finally start to really get into the meat of the Bowl schedule and get games between teams that should be truly competitive.
Russell Athletic Bowl -- North Carolina vs. Baylor
(5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
North Carolina quietly put together a terrific season and though they didn't get much national attention, were in the conversation to win the ACC down to the last week of the regular season. For a while UNC was a font of NFL talent, producing the likes of Hakeem Nicks and Robert Quinn, but with the departure of Butch Davis that well of talent has dried up, and there were no Tar Heels drafted in 2015. That looks to change with guard Landon Turner, who is a physically imposing mauler with solid technique and impressive power in the mold of Larry Warford or Laken Tomlinson.
Keep an eye on receiver Quinshad Davis as well. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver doesn't lead UNC in receiving or is getting much national attention, but he has the blend of height, weight, and speed to create mismatches, and has drawn some comparisons to Nicks.
On the other side of the field, Baylor features the most explosive offense in the country, averaging 605 yards and 48 points per game. However, the Bears will be without their most explosive player in Corey Coleman. The wide receiver has the ability to blow the top off of any defense, but will miss the bowl game after having hernia surgery.
In his absence, keep your eye on Spencer Drango on the offensive line and Shawn Oakman on the defensive line. Though Drango plays tackle for the Bears, he will likely be moving inside to play guard in the NFL. Oakman is perhaps the most impressive physical specimen in the draft, but his stock has tumbled over the course of the season. He has freakish tools but has struggled with consistency, dominating at times but disappearing far too often.
Texas Bowl -- LSU vs. Texas Tech
(9 p.m., ESPN)
Given the Giants' penchant for drafting out of LSU -- even Landon Collins was almost a Tiger -- it makes sense to watch any game the Tigers play.
It just so happens that the Tigers have several prospects that fit the Giants needs.
Starting on defense, cornerback Tre'Davious White isn't the biggest or fastest corner, but his quick feet, fluid hips, and great instincts let him smother receivers in coverage. He should be the next in a long line of LSU DBs to be drafted highly. Behind White is Jalen Mills, a rangy free safety that teammates liken to "another coach on the field". Mills has a strong grasp of offensive and route concepts and uses that to get the defense lined up, and is often around the ball.
Deion Jones is another LSU defender that should be on the Giants' radar, even though he isn't on the national radar. He is a "new age" linebacker who uses his range and athleticism to fly around the field. Jones should be a true three-down linebacker at the next level, with the instincts and toughness to play the run, rush the passer, and cover the middle of the field.
On the other side of the ball, offensive lineman Vadal Alexander is another big mauler of an offensive tackle who looks to project inside to guard. Starting 10 games at right tackle, he has played 700 snaps this season and recorded 100 knockdown blocks.
For Texas Tech, perhaps the biggest prospect to watch is head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury's take on the Air Raid offense makes the Red Raider offense a fun one to watch. He first took the national stage as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator during their 2012 season, and could be in line for a job in the NFL before long.
Texas Tech's best draftable prospect is likely offensive tackle Le"Raven Clark, a big and athletic tackle. Clark is a bit of a developmental prospect -- the differences between an NFL offense and college spread offenses make most of them prospects -- but he has a good foundation and solid tools to eventually become a starter. Whether his future in the NFL is at tackle or guard is still up in the air.