Amidst expected heavy rains in Charlotte, Louisville and North Carolina State battle tonight in the Belk Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN). Can you feel the intrigue?
One of the overriding storylines of the game is whether or not it will be the last for Wolfpack linebacker Terrell Manning. He's closed the season strong and could be a surprise early entrant into the draft. The real star of the N.C. State defense is middle linebacker Audie Cole. He'll drop some in the draft because he won't time well, but he's a playmaker on the field. He comes into tonight's game with 98 tackles on the season.
Wolfpack tight end George Bryan isn't the best of receivers. He's got average, at best, hands and isn't particularly fleet of foot. What he is, though, is a good blocker. That's a rare trait for a tight end these days, which should help Bryan's draft stock.
Louisville running back Victor Anderson is someone who will test out well at the combine, but he's had an unimpressive season with 478 yards rushing. It's Anderson's ability to catch the ball (and never fumble) that will get him a shot as a third-down back in the NFL.
There has something that's always been interesting about Cardinals tight end Josh Chichester. It's probably that he's a legit 6-foot-8. With Jimmy Graham being so popular, some will clamor for their team to take Chichester. He's slowing developing as a receiver, though, and isn't much of a blocker. He'll definitely need a year or two on a practice squad and some serious coaching for his potential to match his height.
Watch out for Cardinals linebacker Dexter Heyman. He has a great build and flashes excellent athleticism for the position. He could be a nice late-round sleeper choice. He leads Louisville in tackles with 83 to go along with 15.5 tackles for loss.
If you haven't already, download the bowl watch list put together by 3k.
In this game last year: South Florida beat Clemson 31-26 and everyone thought Bulls quarterback BJ Daniels would follow his MVP performance with a breakout year. It never happened.
2013 NFL Draft watch: He's only a redshirt sophomore, but Louisville safety Hakeem Smith is turning some heads. He's a good all-around safety with solid tackling technique and enough smarts in coverage to make a play on the ball. He needs to add some bulk to his frame, but will be an intriguing player to follow next year.