There is just one week left in the NFL regular season, and the college season is coming to an end for most teams. Friday brings an exciting line up of bowl games worth watching, even for fans who normally do not enjoy college football.
BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Time: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
Two almost-but-not-quite good-enough teams take to the field in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl Friday afternoon. No. 7 Ohio State battles No. 7 Notre Dame in what should be one of the best bowl games of the day. Ohio State is favored by 6.5 points, but regardless of the outcome, several future NFL stars will be able to showcase their talent for a final time before the NFL Combine.
Players to watch
Defensive end Joey Bosa of Ohio State will be one of the first players off of the board in the 2016 NFL draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers will not have a chance to draft him (despite Sunday's horrific loss, the Steelers are not a terrible team), but Bosa will be an immediate NFL starter and difference-maker in the league. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, also of Ohio State, is also a near-certain first-round draft pick.
Notre Dame also has several NFL-caliber players, the most dynamic of whom is OLB Jaylon Smith, a projected top 10 pick. Smith could present problems for the Ohio State offense. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley is also projected to be drafted early in the first round, while cornerback KeiVarae Russell could be an intriguing choice for the Steelers in the second or third round.
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Iowa
Time: 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
No. 5 Stanford plays No. 6 Iowa in Pasadena
Another exciting match up for Friday as No. 5 Stanford takes on No. 6 Iowa in Pasadena, California. Stanford runs a pro-style offense that includes one of the best running backs in the country, sophomore Christian McCaffrey. The Cardinal has a fierce run game, one Iowa will likely struggle to stop. Iowa also has a formidable run game and a fierce passing game, so this game should provide many enthralling match ups.
Players to watch
Stanford offensive tackle Kyle Murphy should be a second-round pick along with Joshua Garnett, his teammate on the Cardinal's highly competent offensive line. Since the Pittsburgh Steelers have several offensive linemen in contract years, an offensive lineman in the second or third round could be a possibility.
Cornerback Desmond King of Iowa, projected to be a first or second round pick, is definitely a player to watch since the Steelers secondary is in need of more depth. King is excellent in coverage, and if he can fare well against Iowa's offense, his draft stock could improve.
Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss vs Oklahoma State
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
No. 13 Oklahoma State faces No. 16 Ole Miss in New Orleans. Both Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche are out for the game after several distracting, potentially dangerous off-field incidents. Robert Nkemdiche will likely be a first-round draft pick, but he will not be showcasing his talents in the Sugar Bowl.
Players to watch
Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss is one of the best players in college football. Though he will go early in the first round, he is still relevant to Steelers fans. After all, depending on which team drafts him, our secondary could be tasked with the unfortunate assignment of covering him.
Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah is an exciting player to watch. His match up between with Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil will be one of the most intriguing of the day. Both are projected to be first-round draft picks.