This morning is the start of bowl season so if you’re working from home on this cold, sunny Friday and have the opportunity to put some college football on in the background, I say go for it. On Friday afternoon we have one of the most intriguing G5 vs. G5 games of the slate and on Saturday there are a pair of Pac-12 teams playing (at the same time, thanks ESPN).
FRIDAY DECEMBER 16th
8:30a, Miami OH vs. UAB (-11), ESPN Hometown Lenders Bahamas Bowl
If I’m being honest, I don’t have a lot for you on this one other than it being the start of bowl season. UAB has one of the best running backs in the country in Dewayne McBride (1,713 yards and 19 TDs)...except he’s not expected to play. So there goes that.
12:00p, #25 UTSA (-2.5) vs. #24 Troy, ESPN Duluth Trading Cure Bowl
Now this is a spicy meatball. UTSA has one of the best offenses in the G5 led by dynamic QB Frank Harris. They’re going to be without their offensive coordinator Will Stein who took the same job at Oregon a few weeks ago so we’ll see if it affects their offense. Meanwhile, Troy has one of the best defenses in the country regardless of conference affiliation. They rank in the top-10 in defensive SP+ and have what it takes to potentially slow the Roadrunners down. Styles make fights and this is strength on strength. If the winner ends up in the 30’s it’s probably going to be UTSA. If it’s 24 or fewer it’ll probably be Troy.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 17th
8:00a, Cincinnati vs. Louisville (-1.5), ESPN Wasabi Fenway Bowl
This is a weird one. These are two programs that are very close to one another in terms of geographic proximity and used to have a rivalry trophy when they were both members of the Big East. Then Cincinnati hired Louisville’s head coach. And Louisville was thrilled about it. They’ve forever wanted to hire favorite son Jeff Brohm away from Purdue and Cincy taking Scott Satterfield meant the opening was there. Satterfield won’t be at the game but he’ll be all they can talk about on the broadcast I’m sure.
9:00a, Jackson State vs. North Carolina Central, ABC Cricket Celebration Bowl
This is an FCS matchup but if you feel like you haven’t heard people talk about Deion Sanders enough, then watch this Deion infomercial. I don’t want to take away from the athletes on the field but the broadcast will certainly be focused on Deion who is coaching in this game. It’ll also give you a chance to preview a number of players who will certainly be on Colorado next year such as QB Shadeur Sanders (Deion’s son) and #1 2022 recruit Travis Hunter.
11:30a, Florida vs. Oregon State (-10), ESPN SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
We’ve already seen the Gators derail one Pac-12 team when they beat Utah in Gainesville to open the season in a game that came down to the wire. However, this is a very different Florida team that will be without dynamic QB Anthony Richardson as he is headed to the NFL. A number of other Gators are either in the portal or sitting out while Oregon State is almost entirely intact which is why the Beavers have the heavy edge in the betting line.
12:30p, Fresno State (-3.5) vs. Washington State, ABC Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl
This should be a fun one. We get to see former Husky and DeBoer disciple Jake Haener take on the Cougars defense that the Huskies shredded the last time they took the field. Haener missed a few games midseason as Fresno got off to a slow start but once he came back they ran through the Mountain West and defeated Boise State in the MWC title game. The Cougars are a makeshift unit with both coordinators having taken other jobs plus several top receivers and tacklers in the portal. If the Cougars win this it will be a very impressive display of coaching from Jake Dickert.
2:45p, Rice vs. Southern Mississippi (-6.5), ESPN LendingTree Bowl
Rice is in a bowl game despite going 5-7 because they had the best graduation rate among 5-win teams. That’s not exactly a compelling reason to watch this game though. You can probably watch the end of FSU/WSU and skip this one entirely. If you do choose to watch, enjoy Frank Gore Jr. who rushed for over 1,000 yards.
4:30p, SMU (-3.5) vs. Brigham Young, ABC New Mexico Bowl
If you want to be wistful about Puka Nacua and imagine what could’ve been with him in DeBoer and Grubb’s offense then you can check him out with BYU. Granted, UW wasn’t exactly wanting for impact WRs this year but Nacua when healthy was one of the better receivers in the country as we always knew he could be. It was a disappointing season for BYU overall though. SMU has been one of the early winners of the portal in the offseason but those guys aren’t able to play in the bowl game yet so we’ll see what their high flying offense and porous defense can do.
6:15p, North Texas vs. Boise State (-10.5), ESPN Frisco Bowl
The Broncos got off to a rough start this year and had their starting QB leave the team and fired their offensive coordinator. They got back on track to win the regular season Mountain West title before losing to Fresno in the title game. It’s unclear how good they are but North Texas is definitely an outmatched opponent still in this one so expect Boise to have a good time and close out their season on a high note.