ARLINGTON, Texas -- The NFL scouts in attendance eagerly anticipate watching the plays that pit Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung against Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy.
It's a matchup that almost didn't happen.
Okung's status was in doubt after he tweaked his knee during practice this week, but he will make his 47th consecutive start. Hardy's college career was thought to be over undergoing wrist surgery in November, but he progressed enough to play in the bowl game.
The consensus opinion of Okung (6-5, 300) is that he's an early first-round pick. ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks him as the draft's top offensive tackle and No. 6 overall.
The stock of Hardy, ranked by Kiper as the No. 3 defensive end in the draft, isn't so high. He's considered a first-round talent who has failed fulfilled his potential at Ole Miss. The Cotton Bowl matchup with Okung represents Hardy's final chance to impress NFL scouts on the field.