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2022 College football bowl season - Sugar Bowl and Music City Bowl

Your open thread for the Sugar Bowl and Music City Bowl

Auburn v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Good morning New York Giants fans!

We’ve finally made it to New Year’s Eve and the biggest bowl games on the calendar. We’ll be splitting today’s four bowl games up into two separate posts so we can give each one the time they deserve.

We’re starting with the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Kansas State, before moving on to the Music City Bowl between Iowa and Kentucky. Later on we’ll be focusing on the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl, which make up the first round of the College Football Playoffs.

Sugar Bowl

(5) Alabama at (9) Kansas State

ESPN - noon

Alabama is used to playing on New Years (either Eve or Day). What they aren’t used to is not being in contention for the National Championship when they do so.

Alabama will be losing 11 players to the transfer portal this year, but there are still going to be plenty of future NFL players on the field today. Most importantly, quarterback Bryce Young and edge defender Will Anderson are both expected to play. Young is widely considered to be one of the top two quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft and compensates for his relative lack of size with athleticism, arm strength, accuracy, sky-high football IQ, and an unflappable Manning-esque demeanor. Anderson is a prototypical EDGE, with length, explosiveness, fluidity, and technique. He should be one of the first five (or three) players drafted and is almost unblockable when allowed to attack into opponents’ backfields.

Alabama is, of course, stacked with talent throughout the roster — which is why they’re losing so many players to the transfer portal. My usual advice for Alabama games holds true, and fans should probably just watch and enjoy the game, while taking note of which players jump off the screen.

Kansas State has been one of the pleasant surprises of the 2022 season, rising all the way to being the 9th-ranked team in the country.

Giants fans should watch senior cornerback Julius Brents in particular. The Giants’ defense depends heavily on its cornerbacks and it’s suspected that the Giants were targeting Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. in last year’s draft. Brents has rare size for the position at 6-foot-4, 202 pounds with 34-inch arms. He also has the athleticism to stay with the best receivers in the country — as evidenced by his game against TCU wideout Quenton Johnston.

As it stands now, K-State edge defender Felix Anudike-Uzomah is undecided as to whether he’ll enter the draft. He’s another versatile edge defender with the explosiveness to be a problem for linemen at the next level.

Music City Bowl

Iowa at Kentucky

ABC - noon

The top prospect on either team in this game, Kentucky QB Will Levis, won’t be playing. Levis instead opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the upcoming draft.

That will likely leave defensive tackle Justin Rogers and wide receiver Tayvion Robinson as the Wildcats’ top prospects on the field. Rogers is a massive interior defender at 6-foot-2, 336 pounds, and excels at eating blocks and creating opportunities for his teammates. Tayvion Robinson is an undersized (5-foot-10, 187 pounds) slot receiver with experience as a punt returner. Robinson is, coincidentally, a very similar prospect to former Wildcat and current Giant Wan’Dale Robinson.

Iowa will have several future NFL players on the field — most notably linebacker Jack Campbell. Campbell is a big 6-foot-5, 245-pound throwback of a MIKE linebacker. It’s fair to wonder whether he’ll be a three-down player at the NFL level, but “old school” fans will certainly enjoy watching him play downhill. Likewise, senior cornerback Riley Moss is expected to play as well. Moss is more of a zone corner, but he has good size and is a physical defender who is unafraid to come downhill and play the run.

The Giants could also find tight end Sam LaPorta an intriguing player. LaPorta is a very well-rounded tight end with fluid athleticism as a receiver and the ability to lose slowly as a blocker. He doesn’t stand out anywhere, but also lacks significant deficiencies in his game. All of which could force a slide into the mid-round, but the kind of high-floor player who contributes immediately.