Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015 Bowl Preview: #11-20

Here is our continuing coverage of the 2015 bowl season, for better or for worse. We now get to the third chapter of our preview series, and now the games get a little more interesting for more positive reasons. Here are bowls #11-20...

#20 Birmingham Bowl (12/30)
This game is not great, but it does give us some interesting by lines. Memphis comes in at 9-3, and should be an intimidating favorite over a 6-6 Auburn team that may not be too happy to even be playing in Birmingham this season after they were largely thought to be a championship contender when the season began. Here's why this is interesting...Memphis doesn't have Justin Fuente, and is coming off a long courtship with Barry Odom, who spurned his former employer for a chance to take over at Missouri. How will Memphis react to playing here without the man that was the architect of anything good in Memphis football no longer running the show? How will Auburn react to the terrible season they just had? Will the defense actually improve after Will Muschamp fraudulently was hired as head coach by South Carolina? We shall see.
Verdict: Don't cancel plans for this game, but a DVR play back may not be a terrible thing.

#19 Camellia Bowl (12/19)
This game actually boasts a nice draw, but really only if you are a die hard football nut that will consider watching anything football. Ohio (8-4) had a weird up and down season, but finished strong for Frank Solich to grab this bid. The Bobcats are not the most impressive team, but they are one of the better units from the MAC. They get Appalachian State, a 10-2 football team that is really starting to find their way in FBS football rather quickly. The Mountaineers lost out to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt title chase, but they still may be the better football team.
Verdict: If you have nothing going on this Saturday afternoon, give it a look.

#18 Poinsettia Bowl (12/23)
This is another interesting draw, but only for the die hard fan. Boise State (8-4) had an off year, and failed to win the Mountain Division in the Mountain West. That's a rarity for the Broncos, but they should be happy to get a draw with Northern Illinois (8-5). Neither team played as well as they could have this season, but both got stronger late in the year. NIU is having some major QB injury issues, so that could be a key to the game.
Verdict: Not a must watch, but it's still solid football with two very good programs.

#17 Sun Bowl (12/26)
Tradition matters not I suppose. This used to be a staple game on New Year's Eve, but it has been kicked to the early bowl season curb. Miami (8-4) is coming off of one of their strangest seasons ever, one that saw Al Golden get canned during the season. Miami is glowing after the hire of Mark Richt, but that hire fell into their lap after a series of missteps during the hiring process. Washington State (8-4) completely broke all expectations for 2015, and Mike Leach has his best football team in Pullman to date. With Miami in such disarray heading into this game, this should be the Cougars' game to lose.
Verdict: If you love offense, this is the game for you. Luke Falk (if healthy) vs. Brad Kaaya is a QB battle worth taking in.

#16 Military Bowl (12/28)
This could be the best draw in the history of this bowl, as Pitt (8-4) takes on Navy (10-2) and Keenan Reynolds. The Panthers lost their mojo when they lost James Connor at RB, but still found a way to tough it through the season and compete. Navy has the all-time TD leader in Keenan Reynolds, and he will give the Panther defense fits.
Verdict: If you are home from work, this will be a terrific football game at 2:30 EST. Contrasting styles will be fun to watch.

#15 New Orleans Bowl (12/19)
This is your Saturday night cap this week, as Louisiana Tech (8-4) takes on Sun Belt Champion Arkansas State (9-3). The Bulldogs competed for the Conference USA West title up until the last weekend of the regular season, and they bring gun slinging Jeff Driskell into the fold. Arkansas State held off Appalachian State for the SBC title, and have the ever intriguing Freddi Knighton at QB. This should be a fun game to watch, especially for die hard football fans.
Verdict: This is one of the gems of the early season.

#14 GoDaddy.com Bowl (12/23)
We once again get completely contrasting styles of offense when Georgia Southern makes their first FBS bowl game at 8-4, and will take on Bowling Green (10-3). The major story here is, of course how both teams move the football with the best of them, but do it in completely different ways. The other story is that neither team will have their head coach, as Dino Babers of Bowling Green has bolted for Syracuse, and Willie Fritz of Georgia Southern left for Tulane.
Verdict: Despite the coaching situations, this still has the makings of a very strong draw, and is the best draw in the history of this bowl.

#13 Miami Beach Bowl (12/21)
This is an early season bowl gem pitting the high powered Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (11-2) against the resurgent USF Bulls (8-4). Call this the Willie Taggert bowl, as Taggert had coached WKU before bolting for USF. The Toppers are one of the best offensive teams in the nation, but USF can, on occasion, play some serious defense, so it will be interesting to see if All-Bilo QB of the Year candidate Brandon Doughty can let loose for WKU.
Verdict: Second straight great draw for this bowl after the BYU-Memphis showdown last season.

#12 Capital One Bowl (1/1)
Nobody saw Northwestern coming this season, and they finished 10-2 with an ugly offense. Tennessee (8-4) was a little bit of a letdown, but still rallied late to make things interesting. This is the best team that Butch Jones has had at UT, but it could still be better. Not one of my absolute favorites, but for style points, it could be a good show.
Verdict: I would say use the DVR and sleep off the hangover, but the highlights should be worth checking out.

#11 Las Vegas Bowl (12/19)
It is a crime that this bowl does not get a better date than the first weekend of the bowl season. It always has an entertaining matchup, and it always sells out. This may be the best of the bunch, as the Holy War comes to Vegas, with BYU (9-3) catches up with old enemy Utah (9-3). They don't want to play in the regular season anymore? Fine...we will get you in a bowl. Story line here is the departure of Bronco Mendenhall and a majority of his staff after the bowl to start anew at Virginia in one of the most stealth courtships in history of coaching searches. Utah Kyle Whittingham is someone BYU reached out to.
Verdict: When is a BYU-Utah game not any fun?

Coming Next...Bowls #1-10

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