The bowls are full of surprises, as unfamiliar opponents meet in unfamiliar settings, often with different levels of motivation. Throw in extra practices to prepare and a number of key injuries or the new trend of prominent players skipping games, and the landscape is ripe for new stars.
Who will we be talking about in January after the bowls are complete? Here's a list of 10 players who could surprise us with their performances in the upcoming bowls.
Alabama LB Dylan Moses
Up next: Clemson in the College Football Playoff at the Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Alabama hopes its beat-up linebacker corps gets healthy before it gets to New Orleans, but Moses should play a key role no matter what. The freshman and former five-star recruit filled in well for Shaun Dion Hamilton, recording a combined 21 tackles in his first two career starts. He has 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble in limited action.
Stanford QB K.J. Costello
Up next: TCU in the Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Stanford's future at quarterback looks very bright after Costello emerged late this season. He threw 11 touchdown passes against only two interceptions and had effective performances in wins over UCLA, Arizona State, Cal and Notre Dame. Bowl practices should really help the redshirt freshman before facing a stout TCU defense in San Antonio.
Oklahoma State WR Dillon Stoner
Up next: Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl (Dec. 28, 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Virginia Tech is well aware of James Washington, the Biletnikoff Award winner, as well as red zone force Marcell Ateman and speedster Jalen McCleskey. But the Hokies can't lose sight of Stoner, Oklahoma State's next emerging star. The freshman recorded touchdown catches in each of his final three games and was targeted much more late in the season.
Mississippi State QB Keytaon Thompson
Up next: Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl (Dec. 30, noon ET, ESPN)
Thompson was put in a tough spot after Nick Fitzgerald went down in the Egg Bowl, and the freshman still had 121 rushing yards. He will benefit more than anyone from bowl preparation and faces a Louisville defense that ranks 78th nationally against the pass and struggles in the red zone. Thompson's mobility could pose problems, although Louisville outscored its past three opponents 138-48.
Oklahoma CB Tre Norwood
Up next: Georgia in the College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The Sooners' uptick in defense seemed to coincide with Norwood becoming a starter in early November. The freshman capitalized, recording seven pass breakups -- second most on the team -- and 26 tackles (22 solo) despite seeing his playing time spike only during the stretch run. Norwood should play a big role as Terry Godwin, Javon Wims and Georgia's vertical threats test Oklahoma's secondary.
Houston QB D'Eriq King
Up next: Fresno State in the Hawai'i Bowl (Dec. 24, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
King sparked Houston to wins over South Florida, East Carolina and Navy after taking over as the Cougars' starter. The sophomore completed 73 percent of his passes in his past three games and rushed for 295 yards and seven touchdowns in his past four. He could be the difference against a stout Fresno State defense that ranks ninth nationally in points allowed (17.2 points per game).
Virginia Tech RB Jalen Holston
Up next: Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl (Dec. 28, 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Travon McMillian's transfer leaves some carries to be claimed in the bowl game. While sophomore Deshawn McClease will likely get the start, Holston has more upside and might be primed for a breakout game after valuable bowl practices. Oklahoma State ranks 27th nationally against the run, but Holston should have opportunities to showcase his skills.
Wisconsin WR Danny Davis III
Up next: Miami in the Capital One Orange Bowl (Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN)
Davis is part of an exciting young wideout group that should propel Wisconsin's passing game the next few years. The speedy freshman averaged 14.7 yards per reception as an increasingly featured target in Wisconsin's final three games and 17.2 yards per reception for the season. He'll attack a talented and opportunistic Miami defense hoping to bring out the turnover chain.
Michigan LB/S Khaleke Hudson
Up next: South Carolina in the Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, noon ET, ESPN2)
Beginning with a record-setting performance against Minnesota (eight tackles for loss, including three sacks, and a forced fumble), Hudson emerged as one of Michigan's top playmakers. He added an interception, two pass breakups and a quarterback hurry in the final three games and should pose a challenge for a South Carolina offense that struggled with turnovers and negative plays late this fall.
Louisville CB Jaire Alexander
Up next: Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl (Dec. 30, noon ET, ESPN)
Alexander is more recognizable than others on this list, but after injury limited him to six games, this is his final chance to make a mark in 2017. The bowl also marks Alexander's last opportunity to impress NFL scouts in a game setting if he elects to skip his final season. Alexander had five interceptions in 2016 and can change games, especially as he takes on a young quarterback in Keytaon Thompson.