Players to Know in the 2018 Redbox Bowl
By: Matthew Asher
Digital Media Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
The 2018 Redbox Bowl pits the Oregon Ducks (8-4, 5-4) out of the Pac-12 against the Michigan State Spartans (7-5, 5-4) from the Big Ten. The game will take place on Dec. 31, 2018 at Levi’s® Stadium and can be viewed on FOX at 12:00 p.m. PT.
Here are some notable players from each side who headline the New Year’s Eve contest.
QB Justin Herbert, #10: Herbert came into the season as one of the top quarterbacks in college football. He threw for 2,985 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2018. As the unquestioned leader of the Oregon offense, Herbert will be looking to put the finishing touch on his junior campaign before returning to Eugene for his senior season.
WR Dillon Mitchell, #13: Mitchell has become the go-to target for Herbert. The junior wide receiver leads Oregon in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,114) and touchdowns (nine). The Michigan State defense will have to key in on the junior wideout.
RB CJ Verdell, #34: As a redshirt freshman, Verdell has taken the reigns as the lead ball carrier in the Oregon backfield. He has rushed for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. In Oregon’s power run game, Verdell has averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
DB Ugo Amadi, #7: The senior leader of the Oregon defense, Amadi is also a special teams ace. He has posted 49 tackles and 1.5 sacks this season. Amadi has also picked off three passes and returned two for touchdowns. As a punt returner, Amadi averages 16.5 yards per return and has one touchdown on the year.
LB Justin Hollins, #11: Hollins is the Ducks sack leader with five on the season. He has also posted 12 tackles for loss and has one interception. Hollins has been able to get into the backfield and wreak havoc against opposing quarterbacks.
QB Brian Lewerke, #14: The junior signal caller comes into the Redbox Bowl with a clean bill of health after dealing with a nagging shoulder injury that kept him out of Michigan State’s last two games. Lewerke threw for 1,868 yards and eight touchdowns on the year and added two rushing touchdowns.
RB Connor Heyward, #11: Michigan State was hit hard by injuries at the running back position, and Heyward emerged as the team’s top back. Heyward has rushed for 520 yards and five scores while adding 249 receiving yards.
DL Kenny Willekes, #48: The senior leader of the defense, Willekes was a terror for offensive lines in 2018. He notched 76 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and one interception. His powerful year led him to be selected as the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Willekes will be a key guy for the Oregon offensive line to focus on.
LB Joe Bachie, #35: As a junior, Bachie put together a First-team All-Big Ten season. Bachie led the Spartans with 94 total tackles. He added 8.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception on the year. The quarterback of the defense will be one to watch on New Year’s Eve.
DB Khari Willis, #27: Willis is the senior leader in the secondary. Willis posted 74 tackles and had one interception in 2018. Willis and the secondary were key for the Spartans all season long.