It's not often that a bowl game is worth tuning into specifically to watch a pair of defensive sophomores, but that's exactly why college football fans should make time for the Hawai'i Bowl this year between Houston and Fresno State.
The matchup is also a chance to watch one of the most improved teams in the entire country. First-year head coach Jeff Tedford turned around a one-win Bulldogs team from a year ago and led them to the Mountain West championship game and an impressive 9-4 mark.
Along with two defensive beasts that will be eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft, plenty of other talent will be on display from The Big Island.
Check out the top 10 NFL Draft prospects to keep an eye on during this year's Hawaii Bowl, which airs on ESPN at 8:30 PM ET on Christmas Eve.
|2||Jeffrey Allison||LB||Fresno State|
|4||Aaron Mitchell||C||Fresno State|
|6||Jimmy Camacho||K||Fresno State|
|9||Nela Otukolo||LB||Fresno State|
|10||DeShawn Potts||S||Fresno State|
The awards showered upon the massive 6' 2", 290-pound Oliver after just two seasons are too incredible in number to address them all here, but here's just a few accolades racked up by the native of Houston, Texas: 2017 Outland Trophy for best interior lineman; Walter Camp First Team All-American; American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year; finalist for the Negurski Trophy; 2017 Associated Press Preseason All-American.
Oliver finished the regular season with 90 solo tackles. An astonishing 36.5 of them were for a loss, and he followed up last year's 5.5 sacks with another 5 in 2017.
As a sophomore, the lineman must complete one more year at Houston before he has the option to declare for the draft. When he does, don't be surprised if he's a top 10 selection.
Not to be outdone, Fresno State has quite the stud on defense as well.
Sophomore Jeffrey Allison was named to the All-Mountain West first team after leading the Bulldogs with 103 tackles this season (66 of which were solo). He had a career-high 14 tackles in an early season contest at Alabama, and Allison was twice named the conference's player of the week.
Check out the linebacker's incredible tenacity against the Crimson Tide back in September, which showcases why the Cougars had better gameplan for him on every play.