In & around SEC football – Bowl Previews, Part I


By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Saturday, Dec. 15
AutoNation Cure Bowl
Tulane vs. Louisiana (+3.5). A one-point win over Navy gave Tulane its sixth win of the season, and Willie Fritz has the Green Wave bowling for the first time since 2013. First-year head coach Billy Napier guided Louisiana to seven wins and an appearance in the Sun Belt Conference championship game, so it was a very positive season for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Prediction: Louisiana 27, Tulane 23.
New Mexico Bowl Presented by Progressive
Utah State vs. North Texas (+7.5). Matt Wells led the Aggies to 10 wins this season but departed after the regular season finale for the head coaching vacancy at Texas Tech. Utah opted to replace Wells with the coach that Wells replaced six years ago. Gary Andersen is back for his second stint in Logan after a disappointing tenure at Oregon State. Seth Littrell has North Texas in a bowl game for the third straight season, and the Mean Green have lost their last two bowl games. Prediction: Utah State 31, North Texas 24.
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State vs. Fresno State (-4.5). Considering Herm Edwards had never been a collegiate head coach before this season, he enjoyed an impressive debut year as he led Arizona State to a 7-5 season. The Sun Devils face 11-2 Fresno State, who recently won the Mountain West Conference championship under coach Jeff Tedford. Prediction: Arizona State 45, Fresno State 41.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan (+2.5). Chad Lunsford orchestrated one of the best turnarounds in college football this season. Georgia Southern stumbled to a 2-10 finish in 2017. The Eagles finished 9-3 this season, however, and have the opportunity to win 10 games. Eastern Michigan is back in a bowl game for the second time under coach Chris Creighton, who is looking for his first bowl win. Prediction: Georgia Southern 26, Eastern Michigan 24.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State (-7). Appalachian State is one of several teams playing a bowl game after its coach departed for another job. Former Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield replaced Bobby Petrino at Louisville and led App State to a Sun Belt Conference title this year. Satterfield was 3-0 in bowl games with the Mountaineers. Middle Tennessee came up just short against UAB in the Conference USA title game, and head coach Rick Stockstill is searching for bowl wins in back-to-back seasons. Prediction: Appalachian State 38, Middle Tennessee 27.
Tuesday, Dec. 18
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
UAB vs. Northern Illinois (+2.5). It’s been a ma-gical season for Bill Clark and UAB, which recently won the Conference USA championship only a few years removed from having its program shut down. The Blazers are 10-3 on the year, the best season in school history. Northern Illinois just won the MAC Conference championship with an upset win over Buffalo, but Rod Carey is 0-5 in bowl games as a head coach. Prediction: UAB 23, Northern Illinois 20.
Wednesday, Dec. 19
DXL Frisco Bowl
San Diego State vs. Ohio (-3). Frank Solich and Rocky Long have built two of the most consistent Group of 5 programs in the country. Solich is 105-75 at Ohio and has won at least eight games in nine of his 14 seasons in Athens. Long has enjoyed similar success at San Diego State, including three Mountain West Conference titles since 2011. Prediction: Ohio 20, San Diego State 16.
Thursday, Dec. 20
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall vs. University of South Florida (+2.5). After a 7-0 start to the season, USF finished the year with five straight losses. It was a disappointing end to the season for Charlie Strong, and the Bulls are looking to get back on track with a win down the road in the bowl game. Marshall is 8-4 in Doc Holliday’s ninth season. Holliday is 5-0 in bowl games. Prediction: Marshall 45, USF 40.
Friday, Dec. 21
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
FIU vs. Toledo (-6). The Panthers and Rockets won the bowl lottery, as they are heading to the Bahamas in December. There probably won’t be many fans in the stands, but it’s tough to beat the vacation to the Bahamas during the middle of winter. Butch Davis has guided the Panthers to back-to-back eight-win seasons, while Jason Candle has Toledo at 7-5 in a rebuilding year. Prediction: FIU 37, Toledo 34.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Western Michigan vs. BYU (-13). After last year’s 4-9 season, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake desperately needed to make a bowl game for his job security. The Cougars finished 6-6 and should have had a seventh win, but they blew a 20-0 lead to Utah in the season finale. Western Michigan finished 7-5 in Tim Lester’s second season. Lester is looking for his first career bowl victory. Prediction: BYU 23, Western Michigan 16.

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