Predicting the First Week of College Football Bowl Games

BY Fansided and Jake Mastroianni/FanSided via Fly War Eagle • December 15, 2016

Nov 25, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Tigers defensive end DeMarco Montgomery (13) pressures Houston Cougars quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) as he attempts to pass the ball during the first half at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis Tigers defeated Houston Cougars 48-44. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

We are still a few weeks away from ramping up coverage of the Sugar Bowl where Auburn will take on Oklahoma, so let’s preview the first week of the bowl games.

To be honest, with the introduction of the playoffs a lot of these bowl games have lost a lot of luster. I loved the bowl season growing up, but now it’s almost like nobody – including the players – care.

If your team wins the game, great, you’ll have something to brag about and feel good until the next season. If your team losses, then you can use the excuse that the game didn’t mean anything, because ultimately it doesn’t. No one is going to remember or care who won the Quick Lane Bowl this year.

However, there is still some joy to be had from watching these bowl games, especially if you’re an NFL fan.

My joy for these games has shifted into watching players who could become stars at the next level. Again, it’s sometimes hard to evaluate them in bowl games because they are just trying not to get injured before the draft.

But for some, this is their last chance to showcase their talents on a grand scale.

With that in mind, let’s preview the first week of college football bowl games and what to watch for.

Oct 24, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; New Mexico Lobos running back Teriyon Gipson (7) runs for a touchdown against the San Jose State Spartans in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

Teams: North Carolina Central vs. Grambling

Date: Dec. 17

Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta

Time: 11 a.m.


Prediction: Grambling – 37 NC Central – 24

I’d be lying if I told you I knew anything about either of these teams. From looking at their schedules the team’s only losses this year came against Division 1 opponents, and Grambling almost beat Arizona, so that’s why they get the nod.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Teams: New Mexico vs. UTSA

Date: Dec. 17

Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

Time: 1 p.m.


Prediction: New Mexico – 34 UTSA – 17

In this game you’ll get to the see the number one rushing attach in the nation in New Mexico who averages 360.9 rushing yards per game. That attack is led by Teriyon Gipson at running back who has 1,209 rushing yards on 131 carries (9.2 average) and 12 touchdowns.

Tyrone Owns is also over 1,000 yards rushing and is averaging 8.1 yards per carry. Richard McQuarley is the one to watch around the goaline though as he leads the team with 16 rushing touchdowns.

Nov 26, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego State Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey (19) runs for a touchdown as Colorado State Rams defensive back Tyree Simmons (5) and linebacker Tre Thomas (52) defend during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico

Teams: Houston vs. San Diego State

Date: Dec. 17

Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

Time: 2:30 p.m.


Prediction: Houston – 41 San Diego State – 38  

Both teams came into the season with high expectations, and both came away disappointed with three losses each. The Aztecs did manage to win the Mountain West Championship Game over Wyoming.

You’ll get to see two great talents in quarterback Greg Ward for Houston and running back Donnel Pumphrey for San Diego State.

Pumphrey has already rushed for 2,018 yards this year at 6.1 yards per carry with 16 touchdowns. Not to be overlooked though, Rashaad Penny is five yards away from 1,000 on the year and is averaging 7.9 yards per carry this year with 11 touchdowns.

Ward has been the do-it-all guy for the Cougars passing for 3,328 yards and 22 touchdowns, while leading the team with 518 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns.

It will be interesting to see how Houston responds after losing their coach, but this will most certainly be the best game of the early bowl schedule.

Jan 4, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; Toledo Rockets quarterback Logan Woodside (11) drops back to pass against the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the second quarter of the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Teams: Appalachian State vs. Toledo

Date: Dec. 17

Where: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.

Time: 4:30 p.m.


Prediction: Toledo – 31 Appalachian State – 24

I watched both of these teams the opening weekend and then never saw them again. After the way Toledo trashed Arkansas State out of the Sun Belt that first week, it’s hard for me to believe that Appalachian State is the better team.

Toledo’s Logan Woodside has been great at quarterback this year throwing for 3,882 yards and 43 touchdowns. It will be fun to see him go up against a very good Appalachian State defense.

AutoNation Cure Bowl

Teams: UCF vs. Arkansas State

Date: Dec. 17

Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

Time: 4:30 p.m.


Prediction: Arkansas State – 35 Central Florida – 31

Arkansas State started the year 0-4, but went on to win seven of their last eight games and finished tied with Appalachian State for the Sun Belt title. Auburn demolished the Red Wolves in week two 51-14.

Neither of these teams do anything well, but Arkansas State was a much different team at the end of the season. I’ll give them the edge since Auburn played them this year.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Teams: Southern Miss. vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Date: Dec. 17

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

Time: 8 p.m.


Prediction: Southern Miss – 28 UL Lafayette – 24

The passing attack of Nick Mullens and Southern Miss will be the difference in this game. Both teams finished 6-6 in bad conferences, so you won’t be seeing the best talent in college football, but it could be an entertaining game.

Dec 3, 2016; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White (14) passes against against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the second half the CUSA championship game at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Western Kentucky won 58-44. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Beach Bowl

Teams: Central Michigan vs. Tulsa

Date: Dec. 19

Where: Marlins Park, Miami

Time: 1:30 p.m.


Prediction: Tulsa – 49 Central Michigan – 38

You should get to see two teams air it out in this one with a couple of 3,000-plus yard passers are quarterback. Unfortunately, this game is played at 1:30 p.m. CT on Monday, so unless you’re off that day or work from home you won’t get to see this offensive shootout.

BONUS: This game will be played in a baseball stadium, which is always cool to see.

Boca Raton Bowl

Teams: Memphis vs. Western Kentucky

Date: Dec. 20

Where: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.

Time: 6 p.m.


Prediction: Memphis – 45 Western Kentucky – 38

This one could be another offensive shootout as Western Kentucky averages 44.9 points per game and Memphis averages 39.5.

Hilltoppers’ quarterback Mike White has passed for 4,027 and 34 touchdowns this year, while running back Anthony Wales has rushed for 1,376 yards and 24 touchdowns, and wide receiver Taywan Tayler has 1,586 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.

That could be a problem for a Memphis defense that was 82nd against the pass this year. However, the Western Kentucky defense is even worse at stopping the pass, and Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson threw for 3,326 yards and 28 touchdowns this year.

Nov 19, 2016; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (7) runs into the endzone and scores a touchdown against the Massachusetts Minutemen during the fourth quarter at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Brigham Young Cougars won the game 51-9. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Teams: BYU vs. Wyoming

Date: Dec. 21

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Time: 8 p.m.


Prediction: BYU – 31 Wyoming – 27

Wyoming’s Brian Hill has rushed for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns this year, while quarterback Josh Allen has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. I like their offensive attack, but they can’t stop anyone on defense.

BYU is a really good football team and has a very solid defense. I think they’re able to bottle up Wyoming, and allow Taysom Hill to go out a winner.

More from Fly War Eagle

    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

    Teams: Idaho vs. Colorado State

    Date: Dec. 22

    Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho

    Time: 6 p.m.

    TV: ESPN

    Prediction: Colorado State – 27 Idaho – 17

    Idaho has a very good defense, but offers little offensively. Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens will be the difference in this game. He’s a very efficient passer completing 65.5 percent of his throws this year. That should soften up the Idaho defense and allow the Rams’ run game to go to work.

    There you have it. I hope you enjoy the first week of bowl games, and be sure to check back next week as we take a look at the rest of the bowl scheduled.

    share story