By Cole Frederick
College football bowl previews and predictions
Saturday, Dec. 17
New Mexico Bowl Texas-San Antonio vs. New Mexico (-7)
The Lobos (8-4) earned their second consecutive bowl bid under coach Bob Davie and are looking for their first bowl win since 2007. This is the first bowl bid Texas-San Antonio (6-6) has received in its history. The Road Runners have only been a FBS program since 2012. Prediction: New Mexico 34, UTSA 28.
Las Vegas Bowl
San Diego State vs. Houston (-3.5)
Houston (9-3) has a pair of impressive wins under its belt this season against Oklahoma and Louisville, but they also have a few head-scratching losses such as SMU and Memphis. Coach Tom Herman was hired as the head coach at Texas, and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite was promoted to head coach. San Diego State (10-3) won the Mountain West Conference and features the nation’s second leading rusher in Donnel Pumphrey. Including bowl games, Pumphrey is third all time on the NCAA’s leading rusher list, trailing only Ron Dayne and Tony Dorsett. Prediction: Houston 38, San Diego State 24.
Arkansas State vs. Central Florida (-5.5)
Arkansas State started the season 0-4, but the Red Wolves (7-5) won six straight games and seven out of their last eight to clinch a share of the Sun Belt championship. A year after going 0-12, Central Florida finished the 2016 regular season at 6-6. First-year coach Scott Frost quickly turned the Knights around, and they now have a chance to have a winning season. Prediction: UCF 41, Arkansas State 38.
Appalachian State vs. Toledo (-1)
The Mountaineers (9-3) are in the Camellia Bowl for the second straight season after they defeated Ohio, 31-29, last season. Appalachian State won the Sun Belt Conference for the first time in school history this season. Toledo finished the year 9-3 in Jason Candle’s first season as head coach, and the Rockets are looking for their third consecutive bowl victory. Prediction: Appalachian State 33, Toledo 31.
New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Southern Miss (-4.5)
The Golden Eagles and Ragin’ Cajuns both enter this matchup at 6-6. Southern Miss is playing in its fifth New Orleans Bowl in school history and has a 3-1 record in the bowl game. Louisiana-Lafayette is playing in its fifth bowl game in school history, and all four previous bowl games were played at the New Orleans Bowl. Prediction: Southern Miss 37, Louisiana-Lafayette 30.
Monday, Dec. 19
Miami Beach Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Tulsa (-12.5)
Tulsa (9-3) is playing in its second consecutive bowl game under coach Phillip Montgomery, and the Golden Hurricanes lost 55-52 to Virginia Tech a season ago. Similarly, Central Michigan (6-6) is entering its second bowl game in as many years under John Bonamego. Prediction: Tulsa 45, Central Michigan 27.
Tuesday, Dec. 20
Boca Raton Bowl
Memphis vs. Western Kentucky (-4.5)
Western Kentucky (10-3) coach Jeff Brohm was recently hired as the head coach at Purdue, and the Hilltoppers hired Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford as their new coach. WKU won the Conference USA title and are up against a prolific Memphis offense in the Boca Raton Bowl. The Tigers finished 8-4 in Mike Norvell’s first season as coach. Prediction: Memphis 52, Western Kentucky 49.
Wednesday, Dec. 21
Wyoming vs. BYU (-8.5)
BYU (8-4) played one of the toughest schedules in college football, and the Cougars had a strong finish to the season in Kalani Sitake’s first season at the helm. Wyoming was one of the biggest surprises in the country this season in reaching the Mountain West title game. Prediction: BYU 35, Wyoming 31.
Thursday, Dec. 22
Idaho vs. Colorado State (-13.5)
Idaho hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2009, but coach Paul Petrino led the Vandals to an impressive 8-4 season. Colorado State had a strong finish to the 2016 campaign in finishing 7-5 under coach Mike Bobo. Prediction: Colorado State 34, Idaho 24.
Friday, Dec. 23
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (-3.5)
The Old Dominion Monarchs are playing in their first bowl game in school history, and they had an impressive season in Conference USA. The Monarchs finished 9-3 and were one of the best teams in the conference. Eastern Michigan (7-5) is playing in its first bowl game since 1987. Prediction: Old Dominion 38, Eastern Michigan 34.
Armed Forces Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs. Navy (+4.5)
Both the Bulldogs and Midshipmen had strong seasons that ended with back-to-back losses. Louisiana Tech finished the season 8-5 and Skip Holtz has the Bulldogs in their third straight bowl game. Holtz is 2-0 in bowl games at Louisiana Tech and 4-3 overall. Navy (9-4) lost in the American Conference title game and followed that up with its first loss to Army since 2001. Prediction: Louisiana Tech 31, Navy 27.
Dollar General Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy (-4)
The Troy Trojans are searching for their first 10-win season since joining the FBS in 2001. Coach Neal Brown has the Trojans at 9-3 in his second season, and the Trojans are participating in their first bowl game since the 2010 New Orleans Bowl. Ohio (8-5) has been a consistently good program since Frank Solich took over in 2005 and is playing in its eighth bowl game since 2007. Prediction: Troy 27, Ohio 24.
Saturday, Dec. 24
Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee (-3)
Middle Tennessee was a contender for the Conference USA title before quarterback Brent Stockstill went down with an injury, but the Blue Raiders still finished the year 8-4. Hawaii is in a bowl game despite being 6-7, and the Rainbow Warriors are playing in their first bowl game since 2010. Prediction: Middle Tennessee 32, Hawaii 31.