Bowl season is coming to a close. The National Championship Game is set. This week, we’ll review bowl performances, update draft declarations and give you the latest news on coaching changes.
The Great Bill Snyder Will Return in 2018
This comes as a surprise to many. Bill Snyder was diagnosed with throat cancer over the offseason but managed to show up consistently for his team. Many, including myself, thought that 2017 would be the final chapter of an incredible coaching career, but a person close to Bill Snyder confirmed that he will return next season.
Gary Andersen To Utah as Defensive Assistant
Gary Andersen is looking to forget his miserable tenure as the Head Coach for the Oregon State Beavers and seems to believe Utah is the place to be. Seeing Andersen go 19-6 at Wisconsin, only now to be a defensive assistant is disheartening, but it is a step in the right direction. Utah’s defense is already solid, but expect improvement with Andersen on staff.
Rich Rodriguez Axed
Rich Rodriguez was removed as the coach for Arizona after finishing the season poorly. Rodriguez is notoriously hard to work with as it is, and a lackluster season after a promising start didn’t help his chances. He will likely find work as a coordinator, but in the meantime, there is now an open coaching job with a Heisman-caliber quarterback at their disposal. Information about this job will be featured in next week’s installment of this article.
Ryan Nall (RB Oregon State) Declares for the 2018 NFL Draft
- Ryan Nall will conclude his career at Oregon State with 2,216 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. Nall is coming off of a down season, but the change in coaching may have pushed him toward the draft. He leaves the Beavers as the eighth all-time rusher and will have a lot of ground to make up with the talented backs in this class.
Christian Kirk (WR Texas A&M) Declares for the 2018 NFL Draft
- Christian Kirk was one of the more dynamic athletes in the NCAA over the past three seasons, recording 234 receptions, 2,856 receiving yards, 26 receiving touchdowns. He also returned seven kick or punt returns for touchdowns. Kirk is listed as the second-best receiver in this draft class, according to ESPN.com.
Byron Pringle (WR Kansas State) Declares For the 2018 NFL Draft.
- Byron Pringle caught 30 passes for 724 yards and six touchdowns this season. This was rather unexpected, as Pringle hadn’t really stood during his tenure as a Wildcat. Despite his impressive 24.1 yards per catch average, he is projected to be a day three pick.
Korey Robertson (WR Southern Miss) Declares For the 2018 NFL Draft.
- Korey Robertson stepped up in a big way for the Golden Eagles this season with 76 receptions, 1,106 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Robertson was the 12th-best fantasy receiver this season and will leave big shoes for Quez Watkins to fill in 2018. Robertson has received a mid-round grade and will likely be a day three pick.
CJ Sanders (WR Notre Dame) Will Grad-Transfer Away From Notre Dame.
- CJ Sanders is likely looking to play somewhere that will use him. Sanders caught one pass for 24 yards in 2017, and that was the full extent of his usage.
Trey Quinn (WR SMU) Declares for the 2018 NFL Draft.
- Trey Quinn leaving SMU is the dagger in the heart of SMU’s fantasy potential in 2018. With Morris, Quinn, and Sutton all gone, it seems as though Ben Hicks will take a huge step back. Quinn led the NCAA with 114 receptions this season and is one of the more quality slot receivers in this draft class.
Clayton Thorson (QB Northwestern) Tears ACL against Kentucky.
- Thorson received a pass on a trick play and hurt his knee in devastating fashion. Thorson had already acknowledged that he is returning for his final season but is now expected to miss nine to 12 months after surgery. It is unclear whether he will play the 2018 season opener against Purdue.
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State) Declares for the 2018 NFL Draft.
- Saquon Barkley is listed as the second-best prospect in this draft class and is a projected top-three pick. Barkley rushed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, which sealed his draft spot. Many draft analysts like his ability more than that of Ezekiel Elliot. With Barkley gone, McSorley will be the focal point of the Nittany Lion offense in 2018, with Miles Sanders taking over at running back.
John Kelly (RB Tennessee) Declares for the 2018 NFL Draft.
- John Kelly looked good this season with 778 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Ty Chandler is the biggest beneficiary of Kelly leaving and will lead the way for the Vols in 2018 under Jeremy Pruitt.
Bowl Game Takeaways
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Utah came out on top in Dallas behind Zach Moss’ career day against West Virginia’s awful run defense. Moss accounted for 159 total yards and a touchdown while averaging 7.5 YPC. Tyler Huntley couldn’t do much through the air but ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Chugunov threw two interceptions and completed nine of his 28 total passes. Moss looked good toward the end of the season and has the potential to produce big numbers in 2018.
Quick Lane Bowl
Duke came out on top in the Quick Lane Bowl against the Northern Illinois Huskies. Daniel Jones had a respectable outing with 252 passing yards and two touchdowns and another score on the ground. Shaun Wilson ran for 75 yards and a touchdown for the Blue Devils. Marcus Childers’ inability to use his legs to move the ball played a key role in the loss. However, as a freshman, Marcus Childers played really well after claiming the starting job. He will look to build upon that in 2018.
Alex Delton was the difference-maker for Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl, with 158 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Running Back Alex Barnes added 117 yards and a touchdown to the unyielding rushing attack of the Wildcats. Devon Modster threw for just under 300 yards and two touchdowns. UCLA’s best performance came from Jordan Lasley, who had eight receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown. I’m looking forward to more of Skylar Thompson for K State next season, while also hoping that Chip Kelly can fix the UCLA run game.
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
This was possibly James Blackman’s best game of the season with 233 yards and four touchdowns. Cam Akers ran for 94 yards on 13 carries but was unable to find the end zone. Ito Smith’s draft stock rose with 92 yards against Florida State’s defense. Florida State really missed DeAndre Francois this season, but the real x-factor for 2018 is Cam Akers.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Akrum Wadley was the largest offensive threat for the Iowa Hawkeyes with 88 yards and a touchdown on the day. AJ Dillon continued to be the best fantasy producer for Boston College since Tyler Murphy with 157 yards and a touchdown. AJ Dillon is a freshman and is a phenomenal player who only seems to improve with more and more carries. Expect to see him in my top-10 running backs article next spring.
Foster Farms Bowl
Khalil Tate continued to show what makes his style of play so incredible with a five-touchdown game in a loss to Purdue. Elijah Sindelar managed to pass for 396 yards and four touchdowns on a torn ACL. DJ Knox was a pleasant surprise with 101 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Boilermakers. Gregory Phillips caught 14 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, which will likely land him on the Fantasy All-Bowl team. Watching Khalil Tate brings joy to hearts of his owners as they look forward to drafting him again next season.
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
I still have no clue as to who will play quarterback for the Longhorns next season, as neither Sam Ehlinger nor Shane Buechele really stood out against Missouri. Drew Lock had a respectable day with 269 yards and a touchdown through the air. From a fantasy standpoint, there are more questions than answers for both teams looking forward to 2018.
Navy had three players rush for more than 75 yards, and Zach Abey reminded us all why FootballDiehards and DFSDudes co-host John Laub selected him as his season MVP by scoring five times on the ground. Malcolm Perry ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns in a great outing. Joe Reed was the only Virginia Cavalier who played well with 118 return yards and a return touchdown. If Zach Abey falls to the second round of any fantasy drafts next season, it’s a steal for anyone who can grab him.
Camping World Bowl
Mason Rudolph and James Washington fared well in their final game as Cowboys, but the real story for next season is Justice Hill. Hill ran for 120 yards and a touchdown against a solid Virginia Tech run defense, giving the Poke fans something to look forward to next season. Josh Jackson threw for 248 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Sophomore running back Deshawn McClease ran for 124 yards and could make a splash in 2018 if he gets more carries.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Never bet against TCU when they are playing in San Antonio is the lesson learned from the Alamo Bowl. Kenny Hill threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns with two picks. Jale Reagor caught five passes for 169 yards (average: 33.8 yards) and a touchdown. Bryce Love had 145 yards and two touchdowns in what is probably his final game as a Stanford Cardinal. KJ Costello threw for three touchdowns, but his 212 yards and two interceptions are concerning.
Luke Falk missed the bowl game due to an injury, which doesn’t help his plummeting draft stock. Brian Lewerke threw for three touchdowns and ran for 73 yards. LJ Scott flashed his potential by running for 110 yards and two touchdowns in one of his better performances. Tyler Hilinski threw for two touchdowns and 272 yards on 50 total passing attempts, and Wazzou continued to show how poorly they can run the ball, putting up just 24 yards on eight total carries.
John Walford continued to shine against Texas A&M by torching their defense through the air. Walford threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns to cap off his breakout season. Matt Colburn ran for 150 yards and a touchdown and finished the season with just over 900 yards, while Wake receiver Scotty Washington caught nine passes for 138 yards and a score in relief of Greg Dieter, who was injured late in the season. Nick Starkel threw for 499 yards and four touchdowns with 63 passing attempts. Christain Kirk caught 13 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns before declaring for the draft.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
The Wolfpack topped the Sun Devils behind a duo of backs. Nyheim Hynes and Reggie Gallaspy III combined for 142 yards and five touchdowns and could not be stopped. Ryan Finley continued to be a consistent passer, going 24-for-29 for 318 yards and a touchdown. Manny Wilkins had a bittersweet game with 353 yards and three touchdowns but three interceptions. N’Keal Harry, who finished 16th in fantasy points as a receiver, finished with nine receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Music City Bowl
The largest development to come out of this game was Clayton Thorson tearing his ACL, which sidelines him for nine to 12 months. Justin Jackson capped off a lackluster year by showing the Justin we know and love with 157 yards and two touchdowns. Stephen Jackson had two rushing touchdowns but threw two interceptions in the process. The fantasy take for this game is to avoid most of these players next season.
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Also known as the Aggie Bowl. Tyler Rodgers didn’t look quite like himself with fewer than 200 passing yards and two picks. Larry Rose III ran for 132 yards and a touchdown to finish his career with the New Mexico Aggies. LaJuan Hunt ran for 133 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 25 yards. It’s hard to take anything from this game with so many graduations, so the spring will hold more information.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl
JT Barrett managed to produce well on the ground with 66 yards and two touchdowns. Sam Darnold didn’t have much time to get rid of the ball with the smothering Ohio State line taking advantage of the poor O-line play of the Trojans. Ohio State will look much different next season with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, and only time will tell if the Trojans will have to move on from Darnold in 2018.
In a loss, Lamar Jackson continued to do Lamar Jackson things by rushing for 158 yards and a touchdown and passing for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He also tossed four picks, one of which directly resulted in the loss. Keytaon Thompson also had a day with 147 rushing yards and three touchdowns with 127 yards and a pick through the air. Looking into 2018, Aeris Williams will be an excellent complement to Nick Fitzgerald. After scoring only twice all season, Williams scored four times in the final four games with 70+ yards in all four.
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Iowa State pulled off a big win over the Memphis Tigers behind Kyle Kempt’s 314 yards and two touchdown game and some stellar defensive play. In his final game, Allen Lazard caps off his career with 10 receptions and 142 yards with a score on top of a top-30 fantasy receiving season. David Montgomery was held in check with 52 yards but looked really good this season.
Riley Ferguson threw for 286 and two touchdowns and protected the ball in his final game as a Tiger. Patrick Taylor Jr. managed to run for 68 only yards and was unable to score in this surprisingly defensive contest. Kempt will graduate, leaving the Cyclones in the hands of a young and proven Zeb Noland. Inexperienced freshman quarterback David Moore is likely to take over for Riley Ferguson.
Playstation Fiesta Bowl
A thriller from beginning to end resulted in the Nittany Lions coming out on top. Myles Gaskin looked good against a tough Penn State defense by rushing for 98 yards and two touchdowns in what could be his final game. Browning looked lackluster with Dante Pettis going down by finishing with 160 total yards and a touchdown. Saquon Barkley put it on one last time with 137 yards and two touchdowns. DaeSean Hamilton managed to go for 110 yards on five receptions. McSorley will be the guy for Penn State in 2018 and showed that by throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns with 60 yards on the ground.
Capital One Orange Bowl
Alex Hornibrook somehow someway threw for four touchdowns against the quick Miami defenders while Jonathan Taylor carved them up with 130 yards on the ground. Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas combined for 133 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Hurricanes, and they will likely split time next season. Malik Rosier looked terrible in his final three games and may not be the starter come August 2018. Jonathan Taylor will be drafted within the first three rounds next season and will be a top-10 back in the spring.
If you thought the Georgia Dome’s implosion was interesting, you should go check out Michigan’s second half in this game and witness their self-destructive nature. Michigan’s quarterback play continues to be a problem, and the play calling was awful. South Carolina found ways to capitalize off of Michigan’s five second-half turnovers and won easily. Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey step on the scene for Michigan and will change the team for the better by giving Jim Harbaugh a quarterback with incredible talent.
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
McKenzie Milton showed out against Auburn’s stellar front seven by rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown and passed for 242 yards with two scores. Kerryon Johnson could manage only 71 yards on 22 carries, while Jarrett Stidham threw for 331 with a touchdown and two picks. Kerryon Johnson will likely go pro, leaving Kam Martin as the lead back for the Tigers. Jarrett Stidham needs to show more consistent outings to establish himself as a true fantasy option. Milton will return next season and will be gone in the first five rounds.
Wimbush got the nod, but Book got the win in Notre Dame’s matchup against the LSU Tigers. Book threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns but would’ve had more yards had he played the whole game. Wimbush needs to be a better passer if he wants to be the guy again next August. Josh Adams finished with 44 yards on 15 carries with no touchdowns.
Danny Etling finished strong with 229 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions and added 21 yards on the ground. Derrius Guice ran for 98 yards and caught two touchdown passes in possibly his final game as a Tiger. Darrel Williams is next in line for LSU should Guice declare for the draft, and Myles Brennan should take over for the graduating Etling.
Defense was the focus of this game, as neither side really showed flash on offense. Alabama took advantage of Kelly Bryant’s interceptions by scoring 14 points. Clemson could not continue to produce momentum after big plays and would give the ball back to Alabama. Both teams will likely see a quarterback battle in the spring with the talent that both have at the position. Alabama will advance to take on Georgia in the title game in Atlanta.