Know Your Bowls: College Football Playoff, Bowl Game Quick Previews

Know Your Bowls: College Football Playoff, Bowl Game Quick Previews

Bowls College Football Playoff

Know Your Bowls: College Football Playoff, Bowl Game Quick Previews


Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl

Tuesday, December 18
7:00, ESPN, Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL

Northern Illinois

The MAC champs played boring brand of football all season long – at least on the offensive side – and then it came up with a brilliant comeback to shock Buffalo for the conference title. The pass rush is the best in the country – Sutton Smith is a killer behind the line – but the offense normally needs a whole lot of help to be consistently okay. Miserable in its last five bowl games going back to 2011, a good showing would be nice.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, it went from a coma to Conference USA champions in just two years, and it’s an amazing accomplishment, but it had the pieces in the place to hit the ground running again fast. It also helped this year that it got to play a whole lot of miserable teams. However, with a killer defense that went a stretch allowing seven points or fewer in five of six games, and an offense that does just enough to get by, the team knows how to win. And yes, what head coach Bill Clark has done really has been incredible.
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Frisco Bowl

Wednesday, December 19
8:00, ESPN, Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX


The Bobcats weren’t able to get to the MAC Championship as expected, but they managed to win five of their last six games with a devastating offense that rolled up 49 points in each of the wins. The destroyed East champion Buffalo 52-17, and outside of the loss to Virginia, the other three defeats were by a combined total of nine points. QB Nathan Rourke and the running game are fabulous, but the O has to keep the momentum going.

San Diego State

The Aztecs were leaking oil over the second half of the season with an ugly stretch of four losses in the last five games after a 6-1 start. With an offense that could never, ever get anything going, it managed more than 24 points just four times. However, even through all of the problems, the run defense remained fantastic allowing fewer than three yards per carry on the season.
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Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

Thursday, December 20
8:00, ESPN, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL


To go trite, it was a tale of two seasons. The Bulls weren’t very good over the first half, but they managed to get by in close game after close game against bad team after bad team – at least outside of the early win over Georgia Tech. But the 7-0 start turned into 7-5 after the schedule ramped up just a bit. It’s this simple: 6-0 against teams that aren’t going bowling, 1-5 against teams that are – and all of the losses were ugly blowouts.


Marshall isn’t the high-flying offensive fun show you might think it is. The running game is just okay, and the scoring is steady, but the team gets it done with a terrific defense that owned stretches of the Conference USA season. There’s only one decent win – beating FIU on the road late in the season – and there’s going to be an issue if USF’s offense gets going early.
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Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

Friday, December 21
12:30, ESPN, Thomas Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas


Butch Davis came up with a strong second act, keeping the team in Conference USA title contention until late in the season. The offense was the star, as Bowling Green grad transfer James Morgan was sharp throughout. With an offense that scored 36 points or more six times in the last ten games, there’s some explosion here, but the defense was only strong against the the league’s more miserable teams.


No, the 2017 MAC champs weren’t strong enough to defend their crown, and they weren’t the high-flying fun show through the air that they probably should’ve been, but the running game was a killer for an offense that exploded for 45 points or more seven times. The losses? Miami, at Fresno State, and in conference play to Buffalo and Northern Illinois – the two MAC Championship teams.
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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Friday, December 21
4:00, ESPN, Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID

Western Michigan

Which Western Michigan team will show up? The Broncos know how to score, and they’re amazing for keeping the ball for long stretches of time, but the defense totally left the building just when it was crunch time. The were on a nice six-win run, and then everything collapsed, allowing 152 points over a three-game stretch. The O worked great against bad teams, now it has to prove it can produce with time off to prepare.


The Cougars were weird. The never had an offense until late when it played the cupcake teams on the slate, but they were able to beat Arizona and Wisconsin early. The defense was great throughout, but it still wasn’t enough to pull off a win in an ugly 7-6 home loss to Northern Illinois. This is a mediocre, boring team that somehow forgot how to win tight games over the second half of the season. There are programs that really need a bowl win, and this might be at the top of the non-playoff list.
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Birmingham Bowl

Saturday, December 22
12:00, ESPN, Legion Field, Birmingham, AL


Darrell Henderson is going for 2,000 yards. The guy who ripped through UCF for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the 56-41 loss in the American Athletic Conference championship is worth the price of admission. The offense is devastating, scoring 41 points or more eight times, but the defense is too mediocre and too inconsistent. All that makes for a team that’s about to play a fun, high-scoring shootout of a bowl game.

 Wake Forest

Coming through in the clutch, the Demon Deacons had to win their regular season finale against Duke to get in, and they rolled on through with a 59-7 blowout. However, the offense isn’t consistent and the defense is normally not capable of coming up with a key stop. On the plus side, when the offense is humming, it can keep up with just about anyone. All that makes for a team that’s about to play in a fun, high-scoring shootout of a bowl game.

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