- The Independence, Pinstripe and Texas Bowls are all on tap for Thursday's three-game slate. Here's everything you need to know to get prepared for the action.
The holidays are beginning to wind down, but that means bowl season is in full swing. Thursday we'll get the chance to see one of college football's top-rated quarterbacks, a rematch of last year's Orange Bowl and a matchup between two teams that haven't faced one another in 64 years.
To get you prepared, we've compiled a handy, digestible guide for those needing a primer on the Independence, Pinstripe and Texas Bowls.
Walk-On's Independence Bowl: Duke vs. Temple
Why You Should Tune In: If you’re a fan of an NFL team that needs a quarterback, this is a perfect time to get a good look at Duke’s Daniel Jones, a potential first-round selection in April. Even if you aren’t, watching Jones go against Temple’s elite pass defense––the Owls allow 5.1 yards per attempt, lowest in the country––will be riveting. Jones has had some huge games this year: he totaled 396 passing yards and four touchdowns against Pitt and posted a Lamar Jackson-esque 361 passing and 186 rushing yards against North Carolina. However, he’s struggled in three of his last four outings. With his prototypical frame and ability to run, Jones draws comparisons to fellow ACC product Mitch Trubisky. He can boost his stock with a strong performance against Delvon Randall, Rock Ya-Sin and the rest of the Temple defense. The Owls have held opponents to 17 points or fewer in seven of their eight victories.
What You May Not Know: Temple has a chance to win bowl games in back-to-back years for the first time in its history. This would be just their fourth bowl win ever, after 1979, 2011 and 2017. Also, you probably didn’t know that former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had his first head-coaching job at Temple from 1983 to 1988 and went 27-39. — Will Ragatz
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Duke quarterback Daniel Jones has run hot and cold in his redshirt junior season, with four games with at least three touchdowns and two games with a sub-50% completion rate. But pro scouts love his size, arm talent and mobility. Four years of instruction under Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe, who famously coached Peyton and Eli Manning, doesn’t hurt either. — Scooby Axson
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin
Why You Should Tune In: It’s rematch time. Last year, Wisconsin and Miami met in steamy South Florida as top-10 opponents who just missed playoff slots. The Badgers stormed back from down 14-3 early for an 11-point win in Alex Hornibrook’s best career game. A year later, the story reads differently for both sides. First of all, the weather in the Bronx won’t be as nice as it was down in Miami. Secondly, both teams are 7-5 and have been college football’s two most disappointing teams. Still, the electrifying Jonathan Taylor, the nation’s leading rusher, will carry the load for a Wisconsin team that thrives on the run. He’s just 11 yards away from 2,000 on the season and 121 from passing Ron Dayne for second-most in a single season in Wisconsin (and Big Ten) history.
What You May Not Know: This is actually the third Miami-Wisconsin bowl matchup in the last 10 years. The Badgers took down the ‘Canes in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl in a game littered with college football throwback names (John Clay, Scott Tolzien, Jacoby Harris) and future NFL talent (J.J. Watt, Jimmy Graham, Olivier Vernon). — Sam Brief
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Miami safety Jaquan Johnson played all over the field and was excellent in coverage, allowing only eight catches, while providing support in the run game with his tackling prowess. He will be the last line of defense against running back Jonathan Taylor and one of the primary playmakers charged with making Wisconsin’s shaky quarterbacks pay for taking to the air. Johnson has two forced fumbles and a pick this year after ushering in the Turnover Chain craze with seven takeaways last fall. — Scooby Axson
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Vanderbilt
Why You Should Tune In: With two underrated quarterbacks who are playing at a high level right now, this game has sneaky shootout potential. Baylor sophomore Charlie Brewer is coming off his best game of the year, a 308-yard, three-touchdown performance against Texas Tech. Vandy senior Kyle Shurmur was even better last time out, completing 31 of 35 passes for 367 yards and three scores, his third straight game with three TD passes. Both of these teams narrowly made it here by winning bowl elimination games in the final week of the season; now they have a chance to end 2018 with a winning record. That would be an impressive feat, considering each won just a single conference game in 2017.
What You May Not Know: To find the only previous meetings between Baylor and Vanderbilt, you have to go back to a home-and-home series in 1953 and 1954. The eighth-ranked Bears destroyed the Commodores in Waco in 1953, 47-6. The following year, No. 10 Baylor went to Nashville and pulled out a 25-19 victory in the first night game ever played at Dudley Field (now known as Vanderbilt Stadium). — Will Ragatz
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams has an NFL defensive back’s frame that helped him stand up to the SEC’s best No. 1 targets, leading to four interceptions and 10 passes defensed this season. He’s still improving in press coverage, but the ability to be a game-changing ballhawk is there. — Scooby Axson