Welcome back New York Giants fans!
We’re back with the second half of today’s College Football bowl games. We have the Gator Bowl and the Sun Bowl to fill out our slate of late-afternoon and evening games.
Miami of Ohio and Wyoming will be playing in the Arizona Bowl at 4:30 this afternoon, but as I don’t know how many of our readers can watch the game on Barstool TV, I won’t be including that game.
Even without spotlighting the Arizona bowl, we have two games that are definitely worth watching.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
(21) Notre Dame at (19) South Carolina
ESPN - 3:30pm
There will be (at least) 12 players from both teams who won’t be playing in this game, thanks to draft-bound players opting out of the game and those entering the transfer portal. Some of the biggest-name players on both teams won’t be on the field this game, with Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer and EDGE Isaiah Foskey, and South Carolina CB Cam Smith all opting out.
On the Notre Dame side of things, we’ll be looking to see if S Brandon Joseph plays in the game. Joseph suffered a high ankle sprain earlier in the year and (as of this writing) is considered a “Game-time decision”. Hopefully Joesph is able to play, as he has been one of the best safeties in the country this year.
Giants fans will likely want to watch left guard Jarrett Patterson. Patterson is an experienced offensive lineman who was originally recruited as a tackle before finding a home on the interior. He’s started as a center for the Irish, though guard might be his best position at the NFL level.
South Carolina will field one of the draft’s biggest mysteries in QB Spencer Rattler. Rattler was considered a top quarterback prospect two years ago, with some invoking the name “Patrick Mahomes” in comparison to Rattler thanks to his mobility and arm talent. However, he fell off badly and was ultimately benched in Oklahoma before transferring to South Carolina. His play has proven to be incredibly volatile, swinging wildly between excellent and terrible. At his best, Rattler is accurate and efficient, dissecting defenses at all levels of the field. At his worst, he looks undraftable. It’s at once easy to see coaches and scouts falling in love with his upside, as well as being terrified of his volatility. Rattler could be a dynamic NFL quarterback — or a coach killer.
As of this writing, he hasn’t declared his draft intentions, but the possibility that he’ll declare makes him worth watching from a draft perspective.
Rattler’s decision will also inform the decision of WR Antwane Wells Jr. Wells, a 2022 transfer from James Madison, became the second-leading receiver in the SEC behind only Biletnikoff Award winner Jalin Hyatt. Wells (called “Juice” by his teammates) has good size at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds with solid speed and hands.
While the absence of so many players from both teams is disappointing, it does create the opportunity for players down the depth chart to stand out and shine.
Capital One Orange Bowl
(6) Tennessee at (7) Clemson
ESPN - 8pm
This is another game that could have been a headliner during the season. However, opt-outs, transfers, and injuries mean (at least) 15 players won’t be in this game.
Starting with the most important position, both teams will be without their starting quarterbacks. Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker tore his ACL a little over a month ago, while Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei has entered the transfer portal and going to Oregon State.
Tennessee receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman have both opted out of the game in favor of preparing for the NFL Draft.
OT Darnell Wright announced his intentions to enter the draft as well, but also his intentions to play in the Orange Bowl. Wright is a massive tackle with solid technique and experience on both ends of the line and he could also transition inside to guard at the NFL level as well. Wright might not be among the first tackles selected, but his power and versatility will likely appeal to certain teams in April.
Clemson will be losing a lot of players to the transfer portal besides Uiagalelei, with six other players missing this game as they leave for other opportunities.
Clemson’s top prospect, EDGE Myles Murphy, will also be skipping the game as he prepares for the draft. Clemson’s other top prospect, iDL Bryan Bresee, has yet to announce his intentions for the 2023 draft — and does intend to play in this game. Bresee is widely considered a Top-10 talent in this draft class and while he’s still only a red-shirt sophomore, it would be a surprise to see him return to school.
Clemson will also have iDL Tyler Davis for this game, which is an added problem for the Tennessee offensive line. Davis is a compact, powerful defensive tackle who exploded onto the scene as a freshman but saw his sophomore and junior seasons derailed by injury. He returned to his freshman form as a senior and fairly lives in opponents’ backfields.