The college bowl season is officially underway, and College Football 24/7 is providing a daily glimpse at the best players in each game and predictions from writers Gil Brandt, Bucky Brooks, Daniel Jeremiah, Bryan Fischer, Chase Goodbread and Mike Huguenin.
MIAMI BEACH BOWL
Date: Dec. 22
Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3)
NFL teams attending:Baltimore Ravens
Top players to watch: BYU (LB Bronson Kaufisi, TE Devin Mahina, OT De'Ondre Wesley); Memphis (OT Al Bond, DE Martin Ifedi, OLB Tank Jakes, QB Paxton Lynch, CB Bobby McCain).
Why NFL fans should tune in: Unlike the past two seasons, when BYU had a high-caliber player drafted early -- DE Ziggy Ansah in 2013, LB Kyle Van Noy in 2014 -- this season's Cougars squad is short on star power. The most talented players are underclassmen, Kaufisi and injured RB Jamaal Williams. Mahina (6-6, 251) and Wesley (6-7, 330) are seniors with intriguing size, if nothing else. Memphis was one of the nation's biggest surprises and tied for the AAC title with Cincinnati and UCF, thanks to a stout defense. Ifedi (6-3, 275) missed three games, but still was a first-team all-conference pick. A senior, Ifedi has a school-record 22.5 sacks (and 35.5 tackles for loss) in his career and should get a third-day look because of his pass-rushing skills. Bond (6-4, 305), a senior, is a good run blocker who could play inside at the next level. Jakes (5-11, 225) is small but plays big. A senior, he has excellent instincts and leads the team with 85 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks for a unit that ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense at 17.1 points per game. McCain (5-11, 190) is a senior with 11 career picks, four of which he has returned for TDs. Lynch is a sophomore to watch because of his size (6-7, 230) and arm strength.
Brandt: Memphis, 31-28
Brooks: BYU, 17-16
Jeremiah: BYU, 28-24
Fischer: Memphis, 30-20
Goodbread: BYU, 20-17
Huguenin: Memphis, 20-17