This Saturday marks the greatest time of the year. No, not Christmas week, but the first day of college football bowl season. While the games leading up to the semi-finals are all appetizers for the main course, they are exciting and feature some great match ups. With 40 bowls on the slate, we have broken down our preview into two separate halves, before Christmas day, and after the holiday.
Here are your bowl match ups up to Christmas Eve.
Miami Beach Bowl: Tulsa vs. Central Michigan
What a trip for alumni and supporters of Central Michigan and Tulsa, a December bowl game in Miami, Florida.
This Tulsa offense is top 15 in the country and puts up 42 points per game. They feature a pair of 1,000 yard running backs and top flight receiver Keevan Lucas who hauled in 12 touchdowns and over 1,100 yards. They score at will and they score often.
The Chippewas will look to strike in the air with Cooper Rush. Rush accumulated 3,299 yards with a 62% completion percentage and 23 touchdowns. He did turn the ball over 13 times however, and he will have no room for error in this game considering this offense has only put up 19.7 points per game in the last 8 contests. They won just 3 of them.
Tulsa should win, and it shouldn’t be close. While they may not get to their average of 42, I expect them to hover around that number, somewhere in the area of 40-24.
Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Memphis
WKU is coming off a 656-yard performance to beat Lousiiana Tech in the C-USA championship and will look to continue their offensive out put against Memphis. They have scored atleast 44 points in their last 9 games and even hit the 50-point mark 6 times. Quarterback Mike White has 34 touchdowns to go along with his 4,027 yards, and he is armed with a pair of playmakers up the sidelines in Taywan Taylor (1,586 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Nicholas Norris (1,253 yards, 13 touchdowns). Oh, and let’s not forget Anthony Wales and his 24 rushing touchdowns. This offense can score quick and often, and Memphis might blink and be down 21-0.
Memphis is feeling good about themselves after upsetting Houston in their final game where they put up more than 550 yards of offense. The Tigers themselves have been hot on offense as of late, scoring 30 or more in their last five games. They have also played a tougher schedule than their WKU opponents and boast a 3,300-yard quarterback in Riley Ferguson.
In the end, I think WKU out scores Memphis in this one. The Tigers have let up 40 points or more in 5 games this season, including losses to Navy, USF and Tulsa. The only game they won all year while allowing that many points was that shootout against Houston.
WKU should take this bowl game 46-36.
Potato Bowl: Idaho vs. Colorado State
Ah, the Potato Bowl, played in Idaho, starring Idaho. How predictable! With their move to the Big Sky Conference following the conclusion of next season, a bowl victory here would be extra special to the University who may not see a bowl game for some time in the near future once they move to FCS.
The Vandals have won four games in a row and feature a passing attack led by Matt Linehan who has 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. They do have 19 rushing scores as a team, but no one player has more than 6.
The Colorado State Rams are hitting their stride just in time for Bowl Season. With a pair of 1,000 yard recievers and two running backs that combine for 1,500 yards, this team is as balanced as possible with a touchdown total of 24 passing and 28 rushing. They have also put up 45 points per game in their last 5 contests, something Idaho has done only twice all season.
There is too much fire power in the Rams’ playbook for the Vandals to keep up. I expect Colorado States to be the spoil in the Potato Bowl with a 46-30 victory.
Bahamas Bowl: Old Dominion vs. Eastern Michigan
This game will be a shootout, with lead changes happening on almost every possession.
Eastern Michigan averages just shy of 300 yards in the air per contest. Junior quarterback Brogan Roback has thrown for over 2,300 yards and is connecting on 60% of throws.
Old Dominion is led by David Washington who also connected on 60% of his passes, but has 300 more yards than his opposition across the field. On the ground, they have had success, and that complents the passing game very nicely.
While this game should go back and fourth all day long, it will be Old Dominion who gets that one big stop at the end of the game, perhaps from a turnover, as Roback does have 6 interceptions thrown this year.
Old Dominion sneaks away with this win 50-43.
Armed Forces Bowl: #25 Navy vs. Louisiana Tech
Last time out, Lousiana Tech allowed over 250 yards rushing by Western Kentucky. Now they face the Navy Midshipmen who run like they are on a tredmill, and feature a quarterback who has thrown for 1,397 yards and rushed for another 1,198 with 25 scores. They also have 13 different players who have scored a combined 56 rushing touchdowns. They can run like crazy, and against LT, they will.
The Bulldogs on the other hand are scoring an average of 44 points per game, and almost 360 yards per contest in the air. The Midshipmen allow an average of 260 yards passing, so you know that will be the focus in this contest. Quarterback Ryan Higgins has passed for over 4,200 yards and has two receivers over 1,400 yards. He also has six different recievers to catch a score of over 50 yards.
Both teams are coming off back-to-back loses, so only one team can end that streak. The Bulldogs have had success stopping the run this season and have only allowed 150 yards per contest. Navy cannot throw the ball and will be forced to rely on big plays on the ground, which may not come as often as needed.
Tech ends their season with 9 wins and put an excalmaintion point on their season, winning this one 44-21.
Dollar General Bowl: Troy vs. Ohio
Dollar General doesn’t really spark my interest as a sponsor for a bowl game, and neither does the match up it features. While this game doesn’t feature household names or even colleges, what it will have is a lot of scoring. The last two DG Bowls combined for 192 points.
The Ohio Bobcats are as one dimensional a team as you will find in bowl season. Their passing game is very suspect and they rely on the run too much to stay in games. That is a major problem for them as Troy allows just 3 yards per rush. They even held Clemson to 122 yards on the ground earlier this season.
Troy on the other hand, does have a good passing attack, led by Branon Silvers. He is a smart passer who rarely turns the ball over and will be taking snaps on a field less than 3 hours from his campus.
Troy takes a short bus ride back to the dorms with a 26-13 win
Middle Tennessee vs. Hawai’i
This game is going to be forgettn about by the majority of Americans, as there will be too much NFL on, not to mention that it is also Christmas Eve. That is a shame, because it could be a great game.
The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee have scored an average of 40 points per game and ended their season putting up 77. They are going up against a Hawaii defense which has allowed 30 rushing scores. They might need to run the ball effectively to score, seeing that their starting quarterback and back-up are both nursing injuries and their playing status is still uncertain. Star running back I’Tavius Mathers could have a highlight type of night, and improve on his 1,500-yard season. I expect him to score at least 3 times in this game.
On the other side, Hawaii quarterback Dru Brown played well down the stretch and had multiple 300 yards game. Playing at home, the night before the holiday is going to be a big pressure moment for him, but if he can rise to the occasion and out-sling his opponents, he could become a Rainbow Warrior legend.
It would be a nice story if Hawaii won at home, but that isn’t reality. The Blue Raiders will win this one 44-20.