UCF Knights QB Blake Bortles shows why draft stock is on rise


In freezing, icy conditions in front of a sparse crowd, UCF QB Blake Bortles showed again why he's a rising prospect.

His passing numbers didn't light up the stat sheet -- 24 of 35 for 242 yards and no touchdowns -- but he wasn't helped by some dropped passes and rushed for two of the game's three touchdowns. He also did not turn the ball over in leading the Knights to a 17-13 win.

I'm more impressed with him every time I see him. His passing numbers didn't tell the whole story of how well he played Saturday.

Saunders delivers

WR Jalen Saunders came up big Saturday for Oklahoma, returning a punt 64 yards for a score to put the Sooners on the board in the first quarter and catching a go-ahead touchdown with 19 seconds left in the game to help his team beat rival Oklahoma State. Saunders also had two rushes for 49 yards (157 all-purpose yards). He had to overcome some inconsistency at the quarterback position this season and is a good slot receiver we'll have to keep an eye on during the draft process.

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Sooners' interior O-linemen set tone

I was very impressed with what I saw from Oklahoma guard Nila Kasitati and center Gabe Ikard on Saturday. Kasitati is a big, thick player who has battled some injuries during his career. He's a powerful run blocker and does a decent job in the passing game. As he continues to play and grow, he will get better. He's a tough guy.

Ikard is one of best centers in country, as he proved once again. The Sooners were without two starters on the offensive line Saturday, and he carried that unit along.

Bright spots for Oklahoma State

The Cowboys came up short with a chance to secure the Big 12 title Saturday, but there were several prospects on the Oklahoma State side that caught my eye.

Tracy Moore, a big-bodied, big-framed wide receiver made just two catches vs. Oklahoma, but they were big ones. He made back-to-back grabs to set up a TD that gave the Cowboys the lead with less than two minutes to play in the game. He's more capable of making plays downfield and after the catch than some might expect from him. He has a chance to make it at the next level and projects as a third-day pick.

On defense for Oklahoma State, MLB Caleb Lavey is always in the right place. He's a smart, physical player. Keep an eye on DT Calvin Barnett, too. He can be a force. Barnett creates pressure from the interior and holds the point of attack pretty well. He has played better as the season has gone on. OLB Shaun Lewis looks like a glorified strong safety, but he has a nose for the ball. Follow him if you want to find the football. He knows how to make plays.

Rice's McHargue steps up

In the interest of full disclosure, I've long been a big fan of Rice QB Taylor McHargue, but he's worthy of praise after leading Rice to its first outright conference title since 1957. He threw for 196 yards and a TD and rushed for 34 yards on seven carries Saturday in the Owls' 41-24 win over Marshall. He's a versatile QB and a great, unselfish team player.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.

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