The best time of year for college football has finally arrived. Starting this Saturday, Bowl season will commence with several intriguing matchups for programs that are seeking to cap off their successful regular seasons with an emphatic postseason victory. Although the majority of the teams that will be participating in this week’s affairs will be largely unknown, the fact that all of them will be competing for a coveted Bowl trophy increases the competitive nature and notoriety of these underrated programs. As we inch ever closer to the highly anticipated College Football Playoff contests, fans and pundits will be more than satiated with a plethora of high-octane contests until New Years Day.
College Bowl Games On Today
1. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy Trojans vs. North Texas Mean Green
Time: Saturday, 1:00 PM E.T.
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV Channel: ESPN
By program names alone, Troy and North Texas do not appear to offer much in the way of compelling and excitable football. However, both of these mid-major conference opponents actually have two unique and prolific offenses that should keep fans locked in from start to finish. For the Trojans, their electric offense is predicated on the scrambling and throwing capabilities of quarterback Brandon Silvers (62.9 CMP%). While Silvers’ game managing prowess is notable, the Mean Green possess a much more prolific passer in Mason Fine (64.3 CMP%, 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions). However, what the Trojans lack in a gunslinging quarterback, they more than make up for with a consistent and formidable defense (17.5 PAPG, held all of their opponents to less than 30 points). If Troy can avoid careless turnovers, they should be able to rely on their exceptional defense and allow Silvers to chip away at the Mean Green’s poor defense (33.8 PAPG).
Final Score: Troy 31 Mean Green 26 Spread: Troy -6.5
2. Autonation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Georgia State Panthers
Time: Saturday, 2:30 PM E.T.
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
TV Channel: CBSSN
Unsurprisingly, the Hilltoppers live and die by their relentless passing game, a large reason for them finishing the season with a 6-6 record. Luckily, even in the Hilltoppers losses, quarterback Mike White has been accurate (65.6 CMP%) and intelligent when it comes to not forcing passes to receivers that are heavily covered (seven interceptions). Although the Panthers may not have the glowing passing statistics that the Hilltoppers possess, they actually have an equally cerebral albeit much less prolific passer in quarterback Conner Manning (63.7 CMP%, 13 touchdowns, seven interceptions). As both programs struggle to run the football, this will be an exhilarating shootout that will see the Hilltoppers overwhelm the Panthers with their exceptional passing game.
Final Score: Hilltoppers 34 Georgia State 30 Spread: Georgia State -6.5
3. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State Broncos (25) vs. Oregon Ducks
Time: Saturday, 3:30 PM E.T.
Location: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV Channel: ABC
Although the Broncos may not be a perennial juggernaut amongst the mid-major programs any longer, they have still managed to put together one impressive season after another. Relying on impressive quarterback play from Brett Rypien (8.11 yards per pass attempt, 14 touchdowns, four interceptions), the Broncos have been able to grind out wins by playing mostly mistake-free football while relying on their athletic defense to finish off their respective opponents (22.5 PAPG). While the Ducks may not have a disciplined passer to lead their offense, they do possess a formidable and immensely talented running back in Royce Freeman (16 rushing touchdowns, six yards per rush attempt). Although the Ducks have an elite rushing game at their disposal, it has been exposed on numerous occasions by stout defenses, an Achilles Heel that should be exploited by the Broncos resilient defensive front.
Final Score: Broncos 29 Ducks 20 Spread: Oregon -7.0
4. Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Colorado State Rams
Time: Saturday, 4:30 PM E.T.
Location: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
TV Channel: ESPN
Despite losing four of their last five games to finish the regular season, the Thundering Herd unquestionably have one of the best defenses in college football (19.3 PAPG). Unfortunately, Marshall’s gifted defense has been overshadowed by the wildly inconsistent quarterback play of Chase Litton (23 touchdowns, 12 interceptions). Unlike the Thundering Herd, the Rams have an impressively dynamic offense that flows through quarterback Nick Stevens (27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 3479 passing yards) and running back Dalyn Dawkins (eight rushing touchdowns, 6.2 yards per rushing attempt). Although Marshall may have the fearless defense to hold off the Rams efficient offense initially, their lack of a reliable passing game will do them in against an exceptionally well-rounded opponent.
Final Score: Thundering Herd 21 Rams 28 Spread: Colorado State -5.5
5. Raycom Media Camella Bowl: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves
Time: Saturday, 8:00 PM E.T.
Location: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
TV Channel: ESPN
Although the Blue Raiders may not be particularly potent on offense and defense, they are actually not horrible in either of those respects. With that being said, the clear weakness for the Blue Raiders has been the lack of continuity at the quarterback position, with junior Brent Stockhill taking over signal-calling duties during the final four games of the season (10 touchdowns, three interceptions in final four games of the season). Conversely, the Red Wolves have been privileged to have a confident gunslinger on their roster in quarterback Justice Hansen (34 touchdowns, 8.44 yards per pass attempt). Despite not having a serious rushing game to fall back on, the Red Wolves have still been able to overwhelm their opponents with their terrific passing game, an aspect that will be especially difficult for the average Blue Raiders to shut down consistently.
Final Score Blue Raiders 24 Red Wolves 40 Spread: Arkansas State -4.0