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Enter Bowl Season

41 College football games will be played over the next 3 weeks

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Enter Bowl Season

Connor Hibbett and Blake Hulse

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There are a lot of colleges in the country. In fact, there are roughly 3,500 colleges in the US. When you think about college, you may think about traveling and moving to a campus or maybe buying books or maybe living on your own for the first time, then you might think about the fun and entertainment that goes with it such as clubs, organizations, and sports teams whether intramural or affiliated with the school. Some schools don’t have sports teams and some do. The ones who do you may be more familiar with. Such as division one programs. Those are known as D-1. And in College Football they’re known as FBS(football bowl subdivision). There are 130 teams in the FBS ranging from Air Force to Wyoming. But with only 40 bowl games (roughly) per season there are only 78 spots to fill(winner of playoffs go to the national title). To gain eligibility, you have to be 6-6 or contain a .500 record. There are exceptions such as a cancellation of a game or maybe a win for another team vacated during the season. Now, with that being said, some teams will be left out. Such as the Wyoming Cowboys themselves this season who won their last 4 games to finish 6-6 yet were left home for the holidays. On sunday December 2nd, the bowl games were announced and 78 teams received their early Christmas presents. Some teams were rewarded with a berth into the playoffs or a new year’s six bowl game. Which is the highest bowl bid outside of the playoffs (which are included in the six) a team can receive. To prepare for their respective bowl, coaches and players will watch film and do an overview of their opponent in order to be ready on gameday. Now we’re going to give you an overview on every bowl game and give you something to look forward to for the week of finals. 

Saturday December 15th

Autonation Cure Bowl

Tulane Vs. Louisiana Lafayette

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns really exceeded expectations this year under first year head coach Billy Napier. They weren’t even projected to win their own division in the Sun Belt Conference. They ended up losing to Appalachian state for the second time this year in the conference championship but had a terrific season and can now extend it with a Cure Bowl victory. Tulane, representing the American Athletic Conference, has won 4 of their last 5 games. The Green Wave last played the Ragin’ Cajuns on September 24th of 2016 and won at Yulman Stadium in a 4 overtime classic 41-39. Tulane holds a 22-4 lead in series history and hopes to add another win but will have to do it without offensive coordinator Doug Ruse who was fired a few days after the win over Navy.

 

North Texas vs. Utah State

New Mexico Bowl

Seth Littrell has one of the best quarterbacks in the group of 5 in Mason Fine who is better than his last name suggests currently ranked 8th in the nation in passing yards and has guided UNT to a 9-3 record and a chance for 10 wins for the first time since 1947. Utah state was led by Matt Wells, who now is the head coach for Texas Tech and won’t coach the bowl game, and 18 all conference players who helped guided the Aggies to a 10-2 regular season record and at one time reached #14 in the AP Poll. They lost the first game of the season on the road in East Lansing Michigan to Michigan State and wouldn’t lose again until the last game of the season on the blue turf in Boise.

 

Arizona State vs. #21 Fresno State

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

Talk about two programs headed in the wrong direction and now changed within a matter of one season. Fresno head coach Jeff Tedford turned a program that was bottom 10 into a top tier program. The Fresno State Bulldogs hadn’t had a winning season since 2013 and had just 1 win before Tedford took over in 2017 and would lead them to double digit wins and a victory over the Houston Cougars in the Hawaii bowl. Arizona state’s ending to the 2017 season wasn’t pretty with a 3 touchdown loss to North Carolina State in the Sun Bowl. In comes Herm Edwards who “plays to win the game” and certainly did that this season leading the Sun Devils to 7-5 overall record including two wins over AP top 25 teams at the time against Michigan State and Utah.

 

Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

It will be a battle of Eagles between the Eagles of Georgia Southern and the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. Georgia Southern is led by their big senior class and their triple option attack and is currently 9th in the country in rushing at just over 260 yards a game. Eastern Michigan is led by their defense but is much better against the pass (5th in FBS) compared to against the run (93rd in FBS), so that might be an interesting thing to watch out for. Both offenses like to control the clock so these teams look very similar with not just their school mascot but also the way they play on the field

 

Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Appalachian state has been one of the more impressive teams from the group of 5 and can finish off a great season with a win against Middle Tennessee but it will have to do it without their head coach Scott Satterfield who was hired for the head coach position for Louisville on December 4th. Middle Tennessee is better than their record suggests. This team is led by their senior quarterback Brent Stockstill who is 8th in the country in completion percentage and will be completing his college career in this game not only as a Blue Raider but also under his head coach and father Rick StockStill.

 

Tuesday December 18th

UAB vs. Northern Illinois

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

The UAB Blazers have got to be the best story in college football this season. Two years ago they didn’t even have a football program. Last year they would go to the Bahamas Bowl and lose to Ohio in their first season back since 2014. UAB is currently 0-2 in bowl games with the other loss coming in 2004 to Hawaii in the Hawaii bowl. The UAB Blazers can accomplish something that’s never been done in school history – win a bowl game. They’ll be facing a NIU Huskie team led by all – conference and MAC defensive player of the year Sutton Smith and a defense that ranks 1st in team sacks and 6th in the country in tackles for loss. The Huskies hope to do better than in recent bowl games as they are 0-5  under head coach Rod Carey.

 

Wednesday December 19th

San Diego State vs. Ohio

DXL Frisco Bowl

San Diego State, since Rocky Long has taken over, may be one of the most consistent teams you don’t know about. San diego state started the season 6-1 with the only loss coming to Stanford. But since the October 27th loss to Nevada, things have been a little more rocky for the Aztecs. Including losing 4 of their last 5 games. Meanwhile the Bobcats of Ohio have been running over their opponents as of late winning 4 of their last 5 and averaging a 53 to 18 victory in those 4 wins. The Bobcats are 8th in the country in rushing yards per game averaging just over 262 yards per game and they don’t even run the option.

 

Thursday December 20th

Marshall vs. South Florida

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

I think this is one of the more intriguing bowl games with how these teams are coming into play. USF hasn’t won since October 20th losing their last 5 games. During the losing streak the Bulls have only averaged 19.8 points per game. But what better way to end the season with a win, in a bowl game, at home! Bulls starting quarterback Blake Barnett has missed two of the last three games with shoulder and ankle injuries and the USF staff is not sure if he will play the bowl game or not. Marshall on the other hand will be coming into this game a lot more healthy and are led by one of Conference USA’s and nation’s best defenses. It all starts up front for marshall on the defensive side allowing just under 104 yards a game on the ground which is good for 1st in conference USA and 9th in the country. Watch out for receiver Tye Brady for Marshall. USF may have the advantage with speed, but if we don’t see the lightning, you may be hearing the Thundering Herd  

 

Friday December 21st

Florida International vs. Toledo

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

If only teams wouldn’t get distracted while being on the Islands. Usually the statisticians and analysts will go over the spreads and the points and yards given up by each team. But with the island games, it’s amazing if you can get the whole team to focus without being distracted. It’s always interesting to see how each team will be motivated to play. For Toledo, who is a MAC powerhouse, it’s about avenging last year’s post season loss to Appalachian state in which the Rockets didn’t even score. For FIU, they’re looking for the first 9 win season in school history. FIU, representing Conference USA, have been a pleasant surprise this season after starting the season 4-0 in Conference play and finishing 3rd in the East division.

 

Western Michigan vs. BYU

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

BYU, an FBS independent, is now back in a bowl game after missing out last year for the first time since 2004. The Cougars who finished the season at 6-6 got in over Wyoming. The Idaho Potato Bowl usually plays host to a team from the Mid American Conference and one from the Mountain West Conference. Western Michigan is from the MAC while Wyoming is from the Mountain West. But leaving BYU out after the way they looked this year (despite a .500 record) with wins over Wisconsin and Arizona both on the road and almost beating Boise State and Utah on the road was more convincing than Wyoming’s resume. Western Michigan didn’t look so hot to start the season off starting 0-2 but those losses would be to Syracuse and Michigan which made the Broncos start to the season make a little more horse-sense. The Broncos would then go on to win six straight games and would finish the season 7-5. Unfortunately the winning streak was snapped and their hopes of making a big bowl game went down the drain after starting quarterback Jon Wassink went out for the season with a foot injury in a loss to Toledo in the 9th game of the season.

About the Writer
Blake Hulse, Sports Reporter

Blake Hulse is a senior and this is his first year on the Pantherette staff. He is also a member  of the Paschal Golf team and enjoys fishing, and keeping...

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