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College Football Bowl Season: Offensive tackles on display in the Holiday Bowl

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Players to watch in today’s biggest game

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning New York Giants fans and a happy... Friday!

Hopefully everyone had a good and safe Christmas, Hanukkah, or Wednesday (if you didn’t observe a holiday). We’re back with more college football as the annual bowl game schedule really begins to hit its stride. The biggest games of the week will be Saturday when we get LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Clemson in action for the first round of the College Football Playoffs.

We do get a nice selection of games today as an appetizer for tomorrow’s action, including a game between Iowa and USC which should be of interest for anyone looking for an offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Holiday Bowl - Iowa (16) vs. USC (22)

FS1 - 8 p.m.

The Holiday Bowl between 16th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes and the 22nd ranked USC Trojans should be the marquee match-up of the day.

This should be a good game against ranked opponents and there will be some top-ranked draft prospects on the field as well..

The top prosepcts are both Iowa players, as right tackle Tristan Wirfs and A.J. Epenesa should be top-15 prospects when all is said and done (assuming both declare for the draft). Wirfs is generally held to be the second-rated tackle behind Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, and he combines impressive power and athleticism into a complete package. While he is listed at right tackle for the Hawkeyes, he has experience starting on the left side as well, and played several games there this year.

Iowa left tackle Alaric Jackson has all the physical tools scouts love to see, but has some technical issues which keep him from playing up to his athletic potential. He could be a good candidate for a team looking for a mid-round developmental prospect. Epenesa, meanwhile, is one of the top ranked defensive linemen in this draft class. He combines impressive athleticism with a 6-foot-6, 280-pound frame that should let him play everything from the 3-technique to 9-technique defensive line positions depending on down, distance, and package.

While we’re on the subject of offensive tackles, we should also be paying attention to USC left tackle Austin Jackson. Jackson is a long and athletic tackle with good feet in pass protection and could go as high as the first round (depending on how the board shakes out). He will likely need some time in the weight room to fight power with power on the NFL level, but he should be athletic enough to win with angles and leverage early in his career. Michael Pittman Jr. might be a mid-round receiver to watch, as he makes good use of his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to win contested catches.

Prospects To Watch

Iowa

  • Nate Stanley (QB)
  • Tristan Wirfs (RT)
  • Alaric Jackson (LT)
  • A.J. Epenesa (DL)

USC

  • Austin Jackson (OT)
  • Michael Pittman Jr. (WR)
  • Jay Tufele (DT) *Red-shirt sophomore

Complete Bowl Game Schedule

  • Military Bowl - Temple vs. North Carolina
    ESPN, noon
  • Pinstripe Bowl - Wake Forest vs. Michigan State
    ESPN, 3:20 p.m.
  • Texas Bowl - Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State (25)
    ESPN, 6:45 p.m.
  • Cheez-It Bowl - Washington State vs. Air Force
    ESPN, 10:15 p.m.