Big Ten prospects with most on the line in bowl games

Prospects with most on line in bowl season: Top 10 overall | ACC | Pac-12 | SEC | Big Ten

The first bowl is Saturday, and to get you prepared for what seemingly will be a never-ending onslaught of games -- there are a record 38 bowls this season -- CFB 24/7 is taking an in-depth look at some of the top prospects in the postseason.

Today, we'll look at the 10 Big Ten prospects with the most on the line in the postseason. There already has been a national look, but we're including underclassmen in our conference-by-conference breakdowns.

1. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Bowl game: Outback Bowl vs. Auburn, Jan. 1.
The skinny: Gordon (6-foot-1, 213 pounds) already has announced he intends to bypass his senior season for the draft, and he'll look to go out with a bang against a Tigers defense that has struggled all season. Gordon needs just 7 yards to move into third place on the single-season rushing list, and he should reach that number on his first or second carry of the game. While running backs have been devalued in recent drafts, Gordon has the talent to really intrigue evaluators. Leaving a solid final on-field impression certainly wouldn't hurt his status.

2. DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska

Bowl game: Holiday Bowl vs. USC, Dec. 27.
The skinny: Gregory (6-6, 248), a junior, is one of the more physically gifted players -- much less defensive linemen -- in the nation, and this could be his final college game. While his stats don't jump off the page (seven sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss), his athleticism and upside have most scouts drooling. USC has allowed 30 sacks, so there could be a few opportunities for Gregory to get to prolific Trojans QB Cody Kessler. Gregory also should get a chance to show his wares against the run, as USC likely will feature RB Javorius "Buck" Allen.

3. CB Doran Grant, Ohio State

Bowl game: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, Jan. 1; will advance to Jan. 12 national title game with win.
The skinny: Grant (5-11, 193), a senior who runs well, has a great opportunity to impress scouts, as he should spend much of the Sugar Bowl matched up against Alabama WR Amari Cooper. Grant did a nice job when matched up against Michigan State WR Tony Lippett, but Cooper is better than Lippett and Alabama does a lot of things to get Cooper the ball that Michigan State doesn't do with Lippett. In short, Grant -- who has five interceptions and nine pass breakups this season -- likely can make himself some money with a good night.

4. RB David Cobb, Minnesota

Bowl game: Citrus Bowl vs. Missouri, Jan. 1.
The skinny: Cobb (5-11, 220), a senior, has been overlooked despite rushing for 1,548 yards and 13 TDs this season. He is a physical, downhill runner, and while he lacks top-end speed, he usually can turn the corner. Missouri has been solid against the run, so a big outing in Cobb's final college game would impress scouts. Mizzou surely knows that if it can stymie Cobb, its chances for a win increase greatly.

5. CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

Bowl game: Cotton Bowl vs. Baylor, Jan. 1.
The skinny: Waynes (6-1, 182), a junior, reportedly is expected to turn pro. If that indeed is the case, he can go out with a splash (or a thud) against Baylor's high-powered offense. Waynes will get to show off his coverage skills as well as his run-support abilities against the Bears. How will he fare? (An aside: He and Gordon, the No. 1 guy on this list, were high school teammates in Kenosha, Wis.)

6. DT Carl Davis, Iowa

Bowl game: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Tennessee, Jan. 2.
The skinny: Davis (6-5 315), a senior, is a big, physical and athletic interior lineman. But his production hasn't quite matched his measurables this season. The Vols' offensive line has been overmatched at times, and Davis (and fellow senior DT Louis Trinca-Pasat) should be able to dominate inside. If Davis struggles, it will add to some of the negativity surrounding his draft prospects.

7. WR Devin Smith, Ohio State

Bowl game: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, Jan. 1; will advance to Jan. 12 national title game with win.
The skinny: Smith, a senior, has good size (6-1, 199) and speed (low 4.4s in the 40), but he lacks polish. Still, he is averaging 26.6 yards on his 30 receptions, with a team-leading 11 TDs (a figure that is tied for the Big Ten lead). He would impress scouts with a big game against Alabama's secondary. One of the more important aspects of the game will be whether Smith can make big plays.

8. DT Anthony Zettel, Penn State

Bowl game: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Boston College, Dec. 27.
The skinny: Zettel (6-5, 276) lacks bulk, but he has been extremely disruptive (eight sacks, 15 tackles for loss) for a good Nittany Lions defense. Zettel, who apparently hasn't ruled out bypassing his senior season to turn pro, will be going against a physical -- and veteran -- BC offensive line. BC starts five fifth-year seniors along its line, including standout C Andy Gallik, who will spend at least part of his day going against Zettel. That will be an excellent matchup for both players.

9. DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State

Bowl game: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, Jan. 1; will advance to Jan. 12 national title game with win.
The skinny: Bennett, a senior, lacks ideal size (6-2, 288), but he's a tough, physical interior player who can impress scouts with a solid game against Alabama's offensive front. Bennett has a never-ending motor and the first-step quickness to cause problems (he has six sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss). How he holds up against the Tide's physical rushing attack will be important.

10. WR Leonte Carroo, Rutgers

Bowl game: Quick Lane Bowl vs. North Carolina, Dec. 26.
The skinny: Carroo (6-1, 205), a junior who is considering entering the draft, is both physical and fast. He has been productive despite playing in an inconsistent offense and with a mediocre quarterback. He will be going against a UNC secondary that has been torched often. Scouts will pay attention to see whether Carroo stands out against that group.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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