There are only three instances this bowl season where players ranked in the top 25 of Mel Kiper, Jr.'s big board will directly face each other on the field. Two of those matchups are in the Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa (No. 1) vs. Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (No. 7) and Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot (No. 15) vs. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith (No. 2). The third is Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil (No. 5) vs. Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (No. 19) in the Sugar Bowl.
Ogbah, who SB Nation's Dan Kadar has going 12th overall in his latest mock draft, rotates between both end spots, so he'll likely spend some significant time on the right side of the D-line. That will put him one-on-one against Tunsil (not to be confused with Jeremy Tinsil), who's considered the best offensive lineman available by just about every draft analyst of note and was the No. 1 overall pick in Kadar's mock.
For the record, neither of the two juniors have publicly stated an intention to go pro. Tunsil, who's probably had enough of the NCAA after his seven-game suspension to start the season, is almost certainly gone. Ogbah would prefer you not ask him until after the bowl game, but most figure he'll declare.
A second-team All-American by USA Today and the Big 12's Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Ogbah piled up 13 sacks as a junior, giving him 28 in his career and 24 in the last two seasons. The 6-4, 270-pounder has the strength to bully through blockers but also a lightening fast first step to get around them. Here he is combining the two for a beastly sack against K-State.
Did I mention that he's strong?
But Ogbah hasn't faced an offensive tackle of Tunsil's caliber this season -- his best competition in terms of NFL Draft potential was TCU's Halapoulivaati Vaitai and that was with the projected fourth-rounder hobbled by a knee injury.
"[Tunsil] is very athletic for a guy his size," Ogbah told Scout.com. "It'll be a real challenge trying to get around him because he's so lengthy. We're going to have to do a good job defeating the blocks. But I watch both tackles (on film) because I go against both tackles. I just learn their schemes, learn their movement and all that."
Tunsil, on the other hand, has already proven himself against a top-flight edge rusher this season: his first game back was against the SEC's sack leader, Myles Garrett.
Garrett got the best of Tunsil just once on a pass rush (which ended in a holding penalty), but most of the game looked like this:
(That touchdown got called back for a terrible chop block call that Tunsil wasn't involved in.)
Ogbah's ability to get by Tunsil and disrupt Chad Kelly will be one of the keys to Oklahoma State preventing big plays over the top. If Swag, who's 10th in the country in completions of 20 or more yards, is given time and a clean pocket, he'll have his way against a Pokes secondary that's 73rd in the country in preventing explosive pass plays. Ogbah's pressure could also determine the turnover battle: Okie State is third in the Big 12 with 16 interceptions, but the previously turnover-prone Kelly hasn't thrown a pick in his last three games.