Three reasons why you should watch the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
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Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Arkansas State (7-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (6-6)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 16
Game Time: 8:00 pm
Venue: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL
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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 29 out of 39
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
– You like offense, right? Of course you do. Middle Tennessee has rolled again after getting QB Brent Stockstill back from injury, and it’s able to bomb away. This is the team that beat the team that beat the team – beating a Syracuse squad that took down Clemson.
Arkansas State led the Sun Belt and finished 11th in the nation in total offense – this team knows how to bomb away. After losing the Sun Belt title to Troy to close out the season, the Red Wolves should come out rolling.
– You like aggressive defenses, right? Of course you do. Middle Tennessee has a nice pass rush and is fantastic at getting behind the line. The Blue Raiders finished 18th in the nation in tackles for loss. Arkansas State finished sixth in the country, and was tenth in sacks, averaging over three a game.
– You like bowl games, right? Of course you do. And you can’t get enough of them. NFL, schmenefel. On a fun first day of the bowl season with five games and the Celebration Bowl, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State has the college world all to itself – and it should be entertaining.
The first three Raycom Media Camellia Bowls have been fantastic, with the three decided by a combined total of ten points.
Here’s Why Arkansas State Will Win The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
– Middle Tennessee is a turnover machine. It’s going to be a part of the game no matter what – the Blue Raiders are going to give the ball away at least twice. The defense doesn’t come up with takeaways, failing to come up with one in seven of the 12 games and just one in two of the other games. On the year, they’re -12 overall and in the negative nine times. ASU is solid at taking the ball away.
– That defensive front really is terrific. The Red Wolves are outstanding against the run – allowing 138 yards per game – helped by DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones outside and DT Dee Liner on the interior. They’re even better at getting behind the line, with 92 tackles for loss on the year with 34 sacks. Roland-Jones came up with 18.5 of one and 13 of the other.
– Get ready for the Justice Hansen show. The Oklahoma transfer has come into his own for the Red Wolves, completing 64% of his passes for 3,630 yards and 34 touchdowns with 15 picks, and ran for 388 yards and six scores. The 6-4, 218-pounder is big, mobile, and good enough to start growing into an NFL thing in the scouting circles. A junior, this could be his launching point to get the hype going for next year.
Here’s Why Middle Tennessee Will Win The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
– Arkansas State is a turnover machine, too. The Red Wolves are strong at taking the ball away – with 21 takeaways on the year – and they’ve needed them with the way the offense gives it up. How did a team this good lose to South Alabama? Six turnovers. How did it lose to Troy? Three interceptions. Throw in the five turnover day against Georgia Southern, and the team has been good for two giveaways or more six times.
– The D is great at getting off the field. Helped by the defense that’s terrific at making things happen behind the line, the Middle Tennessee defense is solid at stalling drives. Four times this year, the Blue Raiders allowed offenses to convert just 25% of their chances or fewer, and only four teams went over the 40% mark.
– This is a different team with Brent Stockstill. With the head coach’s son under center, the offense works a whole lot better, including in the win over Syracuse – Stockstill threw for 269 yards and three scores – and with three touchdown passes in four of his last five games. He missed a bulk of the season with a shoulder injury, with the team going 4-2 when he played, and 2-4 when he didn’t.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
– Middle Tennessee, it’s time to win a bowl game again. The program has lost its last four and five of its last six – and badly. Outside of the win over Southern Miss in the 2009 New Orleans Bowl, since the team has gone bowling again after a long layoff – going from 1964 to 2006 without an appearance, starting out with a loss in the 1956 Refrigerator Bowl to Sam Houston State – all five of this losses since 2006 have been double-digit blowouts.
– This is Arkansas State’s seventh-straight bowl appearance and eighth since 2005. There were two close wins – the 2012 and 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowls – and the other five were blowouts. Combine this with Middle Tennessee’s history of ugly bowl losses, and it’ll take a historical aberration for this to be another fantastic Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
– This caps off an important day for the Sun Belt and Conference USA. Troy – one of the Sun Belt’s co-champions – is taking on North Texas from C-USA in the first bowl of the day in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Georgia State gets a shot against WKU in the AutoNation Cure Bowl, and then there’s this. Troy should be UNT, but that will be a battle, and WKU is supposed to beat the Panthers.
Throw in Marshall’s game against Colorado State in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, and this game will be a last big statement for two of the Group of Fivers.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl?
The Arkansas State offense will be a bit too much for Middle Tennessee in an energized shootout. After losing to Troy, the Red Wolves will come out roaring, but Stockstill will do his part with well over 300 yards.
ASU’s defensive front will come up with a few more plays that Middle Tennessee’s won’t, but both defenses will force at least two turnovers. It’ll be a good way to cap off a long bowl day, with the Sun Belters pulling away late.
Arkansas State 41, Middle Tennessee 30
– More Bowl Info & Bowl Tickets
Arkansas State -3.5, o/u: 62.5
ATS Confidence: 4
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar
Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas
Camellia Bowl Game History, Results
Dec. 17, 2016 Appalachian State 31, Toledo 28
Dec. 19, 2015 Appalachian State 31 Ohio 29
Dec. 20, 2014 Bowling Green 33 South Alabama 28