The 2013-14 BCS bowl games will act as a final send-off for many collegiate players, but a select few are headed to the 2014 NFL draft to test the waters at the professional level.
Much can be determined about the stock of said players by their final performance before making the jump. Numerous workouts and interviews line a lengthy, rigorous road to the big leagues, but whether prospects end their collegiate careers with a whimper or exclamation point has a major impact on their stock.
Here are a few big names to monitor in the biggest games of all in the final year of the BCS.
|Rose Bowl||Jan. 1||Pasadena, Calif.||Michigan State vs. Stanford||Michigan State|
|Fiesta Bowl||Jan. 1||Glendale, Ariz.||Baylor vs. UCF||Baylor|
|Sugar Bowl||Jan. 2||New Orleans, La.||Alabama vs. Oklahoma||Alabama|
|Orange Bowl||Jan. 3||Miami, Fla.||Clemson vs. Ohio State||Ohio State|
|BCS Title Game||Jan. 6||Pasadena, Calif.||Auburn vs. Florida State||Florida State|
Schedule via ESPN
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State (Rose Bowl)
Darqueze Dennard has made quite the name for himself this year and has risen to the first round in many draft projections, including the one over at CBS Sports.
Dennard has been the definition of a lockdown corner as a senior and was rewarded for his efforts, as Michigan State's Twitter account illustrates:
Darqueze Dennard has been selected the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. #Spartans— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) December 2, 2013
Even better, Dennard has been garnering some lofty comparisons, according to Charles Davis of NFL.com: "I've heard chatter that some think he's as good a corner as they've seen since Deion Sanders. I'm not co-signing on to the Primetime comparison, but I think he's very good and has the potential to be terrific at the next level."
We will learn much about Dennard in the Rose Bowl when the No. 4 Spartans take on the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal. While he already did much to solidify his status as a first-rounder in the Big Ten Championship, Dennard can hurt or help his stock in the biggest game of his career to date.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (Sugar Bowl)
C.J. Mosley had quite the year as the heart and soul of the Alabama Crimson Tide defense, and he capped it off with the Butkus Award, per the team's Twitter account:
The four-year starter joins a prestigious group of names to win the award in recent years, including Manti Te'o, Luke Kuechly and Von Miller.
Mosley has one final thing to accomplish in his collegiate career: help down the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl.
A statistical monster with 102 total tackles, five passes defensed and one forced fumble this year, Mosley has a game that should translate well to the NFL. He is considered by many as a top player at his position, and he is far and away one of the biggest names to watch in the BCS contests.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (Orange Bowl)
Clemson Tigers senior quarterback Tajh Boyd faces some adversity as his team preps to take on No. 7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
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Boyd has undoubtedly been explosive throughout his career. He threw for 3,896 yards, 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year as a junior. As a senior, he threw for 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
But Boyd has continuously failed against Clemson's biggest rival, the South Carolina Gamecocks. Boyd threw for 225 yards and two interceptions to end the year with a loss and an all-time 0-4 mark against the Gamecocks.
How will Boyd respond under more pressure than ever in his final collegiate contest? There is no question Boyd has the talent to be a first-round selection, but he has something to prove in the biggest game of his career.
Should he falter once more, Boyd's path to the draft will be a brutal endeavor of tests and questions about his composure.