In & around SEC football – bowl previews and predictions, part I


By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Friday, Dec. 20 
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Buffalo vs. Charlotte (+6.5). Charlotte is making its first trip to a bowl game in school history, and the 49ers have had their best season since joining the FBS. Buffalo is back in a bowl game despite losing quarterback Tyree Jackson to the NFL, but head coach Lance Leipold helped navi-gate the Bulls back into the postseason. Prediction: Charlotte 37, Buffalo 33. 
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl 
Utah State vs Kent State (+6). Utah State quarterback Jordan Love could be taken in the first few rounds in the NFL Draft if he decides to leave Utah State early, so a good performance against Kent State could help or hurt his cause as a prospect. Kent State, which currently is 0-3 in the postseason, is looking for its first bowl win in school history. Prediction: Utah State 38, Kent State 30. 
Saturday, Dec. 21
New Mexico Bowl
Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-3.5). Rocky Long has had tremendous success at San Diego State, turning the Aztecs into one of the best Group of 5 programs. His teams have struggled in bowl games, however, and Long is 4-9 in the postseason. Jim McElwain led the Chippewas to a division title in his first season as head coach, and a bowl victory would be a terrific way to finish off his inaugural season. Prediction: Central Michigan 24, San Diego State 20.
FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl
Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (-5). Hugh Freeze has Liberty in the postseason for the first time in school history, and the Flames won seven games this season in only the season full year in FBS. They’re up against a Georgia Southern team that went through a similar transition a few years ago and have handled the move very well. Prediction: Liberty 31, Georgia Southern 24.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl 
SMU vs. Florida Atlantic (+3). Boca Raton was the preferred bowl destination for the Mustangs, and they’re looking to add an 11th win on the year for the first time since 1982. Florida Atlanta lost head coach Lane Kiffin to Ole Miss, and even though they have home field advan-tage, the Owls might not be as motivated as the Mus-tangs. Prediction: SMU 45, Florida Atlantic 34. 
Camellia Bowl 
Florida International vs. Arkansas State (-2.5). FIU’s win over Mia-mi was the highlight of its season, and it’s worth wondering how motivated the Panthers will be for this bowl game. Arkansas State also did not live up to preseason expectations, but the winner will head into the offseason on a positive note. Prediction: FIU 27, Arkansas State 23. 
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Boise State vs. Washington (-3.5). This should be renamed the Chris Petersen Bowl, especially since he is retiring after the game. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake will take over. Petersen directed Washington to the playoffs and led Boise State to unprecedented success. Both schools became nationally relevant under Peterson’s guidance. Prediction: Washington 26, Boise State 23. 
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl 
UAB vs. Appalachian State (-16.5). Bill Clark did another remarkable job guiding the Blazers to the Conference USA title game, though UAB came up short of winning the conference for the second straight year. Appalachian State coach Eliah Drinkwitz left to take the Missouri job, so the Mountaineers will be without him for the bowl game. Prediction: Appalachian State 41, UAB 20. 
Monday, Dec. 23
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl 
UCF vs. Marshall (+17). The Knights have been the top Group of 5 team in recent years, though they took a slight step back in 2019. Marshall was competitive again in C-USA but fell short of making the conference title game. Prediction: UCF 48, Marshall 32. 
Tuesday, Dec. 24
SoFi Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii vs BYU (-1.5). After a very challen-ging schedule, the Cougars get the reward of playing in Hawaii on Christmas Eve. They must take on Hawaii on its home field, but this is a very even matchup. The home field advantage is not as beneficial since BYU has so much time to prepare, and the Cougars are battle-tested. Prediction: BYU 31, Hawaii 30. 
Thursday, Dec. 26
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (-6). This has not been the strongest debut season for Manny Diaz at Miami, and it’s tough to gauge whether he is the right man for the job. A loss to Louisiana Tech would be the second loss to a C-USA team this season for the Hurricanes, which would be a terrible look for Diaz entering the offseason. Prediction: Miami 23, Louisiana Tech 10. 
Quick Lane Bowl
Pitt vs. Eastern Michigan (+10.5). Pitt came close to making the ACC title game again but lost some winnable games down the stretch. Still, the Panthers won seven games despite drastically changing their offense and need a win over Eastern Michigan before heading into the offseason. Prediction: Pitt 34, Eastern Michigan 22.

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