What to watch for in Boston College's First Responder Bowl

Santa is done filling stockings and traipsing around the world with Rudolph and Co., and it's finally time for Boston College's First Responder Bowl against Boise State. The game will be played in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl at 1:30 p.m.

Here are a few main things to watch for as the teams face off on ESPN.

Boise State will be dealing with some academic casualties. The Broncos (10-3) will be without the services of wide receiver John Hightower and running back Robert Mahone. Hightower led the team in yards per reception (16.2 average) this season, and was third in touchdown catches with six. Mahone is not as big of a loss, but as the second-string running back, it's still a notable absence. This isn't the same thing as when Boston College lost quarterback Anthony Brown and AJ Dillon to injury in the Clemson game, but it still bears some significance.

Speaking of Brown and Dillon, their health is worth watching. Brown finished the season after the Clemson loss and started the season finale against Syracuse, but one has to wonder how much that abdominal injury still bothers him. Dillon has been battling an ankle injury most of the season, and he is the centerpiece to the offense. We simply won't know how healthy either player is until Wednesday, but the ample time since the last game can only help.

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien will be one of the best quarterbacks BC has faced this season, and will be looking to impress some NFL scouts. Right now, Rypien, the nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, is considered a mid-level quarterback prospect for the 2019 draft. This is his last game before the pre-draft process begins to elevate his stock. So far this season, the former blue-chip recruit out of Washington has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 3,705 yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The loss of a player like Hightower hurts his receiving corps, but Rypien is still going to be a lot to handle for this BC defense.

Speaking of 2019 draft prospects, BC will have a boatload of them looking to put on a show, as well. Tight end Tommy Sweeney, guard Chris Lindstrom, defensive end Zach Allen, and safety Will Harris are all slated to participate in the Senior Bowl, but unlike some of their peers who are potential draft picks, they are not skipping the bowl game. In addition to those four, seniors like safety Lukas Denis want to put their best foot forward if they want to hear their names called next spring. Obviously, the main goal for all these players is to help the Eagles win eight games for the first time since 2009, but that only happens if they play like the future pros they're expected to be.

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