Bowl Season Preview Pt. 2

So after the first week of bowl games lets look at the next week of Bowl games this year. Unlike last week’s games features alot of games between fully healthy teams with little Opt outs. I went 6-2 in my predictions last week, let’s see how I do this week.

12/19/22 1:30 PM Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall (8-4, -10.5) vs Connecticut (6-6)

The first game of the week has 0 Opt-outs between a very good Marshall Team who beat an 8-4 Notre Dame team that finished the year ranked in the final CFP poll. This also features a Connecticut team that is playing in their first bowl game since 2015(!) after becoming independent in 2020.

Marshall has been a surprising team this year after their Week 2 17-14 upset over Notre Dame. They started the year out with Henry Colombi but after he got hurt in week 10 against App State they went to Cam Fancher who has been a similar level QB (which isn’t very good) but he’s added a threat on the ground where he’s ran the ball 68 times for 543 yards (2nd on Marshall in both). Speaking of rushing Marshall’s best player on Offense is RB Khalan Laborn who’s posted 1,445 Yards and 16 TDs on 282 Attempts and posted a 82.2 PFF Rushing Grade. Their offense isn’t very good (95th in the nation in ppg 111th in CFB references Offensive SRS) but they win games because of their defense (7th in ppg allowed and 13th in Defensive SRS) and their defense is CB Steven Gilmore (Brother of Stephon) who’s among the best CBs In the entire nation and who should hear his name called in April. Edge Owen Porter another one of their lead defenders who’s 51 pressures is tied for 10th in the nation and his 87.9 PFF Grade is tied for 8th in the nation among Edge rushers.

Connecticut is bowl eligible for the first time in forever which everyone loves. Sadly they aren’t very good although they do have 2 decent wins (19-14 over Fresno State and 36-33 over An imploding Liberty). They have one of the worst offenses in the nation (115th in ppg and 110th in Offensive SRS) and they are lead by QB Zion Turner who’s 5 BTTs to 11 TWPs is one of the worst BTT:TWP ratios In the nation. He is a decent runner with 347 rushing yards and 1 TD on 41 rushes. UConn has 2 good OGs but the rest of their OL is not very good and they have one of the worst WR Corps in the nation

I don’t think this game will be particularly close with Marshall’s defense absolutely shutting down Connecticut and Marshall being able to score enough to make it a blow out

Prediction: Marshall 24 Connecticut 3

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Eastern Michigan (8-4) vs San Jose State (7-4, -4)

The Potato Bowl is one of my favorite Bowl games because of the name + It being played on the Boise State blue field. This game has 0 Optouts and transfers so we should get some pretty good football between 2 pretty decent GO5 Schools

Eastern Michigan is in the middle of a glowup as they will go to b2b bowl games for the first time since 18-19 (and the second time ever) and they will have a winning record in b2b years for the first time since 1987-88 and they only played 10 games in 1988 (they went 6-3-1). They have a better offense than defense but I don’t think they’re particularly elite on either end. Former Troy and Missouri QB Taylor Powell will lead the offense for the eagles and he’s a decent passer with a good deep ball that can make some plays when kept clean. His best receiver is Dylan Drummond who is as sure handed as they come (only 3 drops on 153 targets in the last two years) and Tanner Krue has been the deep threat for Eastern Michigan and his 5 Deep touchdowns Is tied for the 10th most in the nation despite only having 18 targets. Eastern Michigan’s defense is lead by edge rusher Jose Ramirez who has 46 pressures and 10 sacks on just 287 Pass rushes. His 23.7% win rate ranks 4th in the nation. They don’t have a great secondary but I don’t think it’s a huge issue for them

San Jose State has a fun offense and they always have one of the best QBs in the GO5 and that’s no exception this year with Chevan Corderio who’s a certified Dual Threat QB. He’s an above average passer that can stretch the field with a nice deep ball but what makes him so good is his rushing ability. His 8 Rushing TDs are tied for 14th in the nation among QBs despite being 75th in rushing attempts at 36(!) he’s great at making guys miss and has 24 missed tackles forced on just 36 attempts which is insanely good. They have a great backfield Duo with Corderio and Kairee Robinson who has 40 FMTs and 10 touchdowns on just 142 rushes. Defensively they’re one of the better teams in the country and are lead by Viliami Fehoko who’s 61 pressures is 4th in the nation and his 35 pressures on True Pass sets (any pass that isn’t a rollout Play action screen or RPO) is 3rd.

This is doing to be a battle in the trenches with the occasional deep shots and I think San Jose State is better at running the ball and stopping it. I think EMU is close to SJSU and will be able to pressure Corderio enough to where SJSU won’t want to pass a lot but I think ultimately this game is SJSU’s to lose

Prediction: San Jose State 24 Eastern Michigan 17

Boca Raton Bowl: Liberty (8-4) vs Toledo (8-5, -4.5)

This should be an interesting game with Liberty who imploded at the end of the year going 0-3 to end the year and they’re playing a Toledo team that is coming off a MAC championship win against Ohio.

Liberty is weird. They started out great. They were 8-1 at one point and ranked in the CFP t25 despite basically being a GO5 school. Then Hugh Freeze started getting rumored to Auburn and they imploded losing to 6-6 Connecticut and 3-8 VT before getting blown out by A 6-6 New Mexico State 49-14. They only have 1 opt out on Offense, Jaivian Lofton, who only ran 81 routes in 10 games. Defensively they’ll be without rotational DL Dre Butler and Leading Tackler Ahmad Walker so they’ll miss a little bit of talent on the front 7 but they’ll still have their best DL, Durrell Johnson who had 35 stops in 609 snaps off the edge. They’ll also have their best CB Chris Meggison who’s great at getting his hands on the ball (8 Forced Incompletions in 364 snaps)

Toledo will have a full roster for this game and are led by QB Dequan Finn who is another Average passer great runner and the best runner on his team who has a 3 way RB committee between Micah Kelly Peny Boone and Jacquez Stewart. They have a decent WR corp and a decent OL and a decent OL (66th in Offensive SRS). They have a better defense than offense (54th in Defensive SRS) and are led by elite Ballhawk CB, Quinyon Mitchell, who leads the nation in forced incompletions and PFF Coverage Grade (18 FINC and 92.8 PFF Grade), and DL Desjuan Johnson who’s 40 Stops leads all IDL and is T4th among all DL. He also has the 3rd most run stops in the nation and first among IDL. They also have guys like Nate Bauer and Jamal Hines that give them a really solid defense overall

Prediction: Toledo 27 Liberty 17

New Orleans Bowl: Western Kentucky (8-5) vs South Alabama (10-2, -4.5)

This will be a fun game for me personally as a mobile native with South Alabama having no opt outs/transfers and this being their first year as a good team. They’re playing a good WKU team that has its fair share of opt outs

Speaking of those Opt-outs, Western Kentucky will be without starting TE Josh Simon and their two best OL in RT Gunner Britton and C Rusty Staats but QB Austin Reed will play for WKU so that’s at least something. They still have star WR Malachi Corley who’s one of the best YAC guys in the nation but without all that blocking they could face trouble especially without an elite running game. They have one of the better offenses in the nation but idk how well they’ll play without 3 of their starters (and some of their best starters at that). Defensively they fit a decent bunch led Edge JaQues Evans who’s a pretty good run stopper and they have a nice run defense but they don’t have any standout guys really.

South Alabama is finally good after 11 years in the CFB. They had their first winning season and their first 10 win season this year going 10-2 with their only losses being to 2 teams ranked in the final CFP Poll (32-33 to UCLA and 6-10 to Troy). They have a good offense led by Carter Bradley who’s good not great but he has some good weapons like Jalen Wayne who is a good route runner and a solid deep threat (5 TDs on 19 deep targets) as well as DJ Thomas-Jones who’s a great YAC threat as a WR/TE Hybrid. They also have a really good run game led by La’Damian Webb who has forced 60 missed tackles (16th in the nation) on 197 attempts. South’s OL isn’t great but they’re a decent pass blocking unit and will give Bradley enough time to throw against WKU. South’s defense has been great this year led by Cam who plays the STAR role for South (STAR is a mixture of Slot CB and LB) they’re better at stopping the run and LB Trey Kiser leads them in run stops at 20 (10% run stop % is t47th of 200 LBs)

South is the better team of the two and WKU is without some major players on offense which is the side of the ball that usually wins them games so I like south

Prediciton: South Alabama 27 Western Kentucky 20

Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor (6-6, -4.5) vs Air Force (9-3)

There is only 1 opt out/transfer between the two teams in this game and it’s between two pretty good teams so this should also be a good game.

Baylor may have a 6-6 record but don’t let that fool you. 4 of their 6 losses were by less than 10 points and 3 of those were by less than 7 and that’s with a pretty rough schedule. 1 of their losses was a 6 point loss in OT to BYU who was good to start the year and the other was a 1 point loss to TCU on a FG as time expired. Baylor has a decent QB in Blake Shapen who is good at avoiding pressure although he’s prone to turnovers he’s not a great deep passer but he’s good at throwing over the middle and in the intermediate range. If he can be kept clean he should ball out. They have a really good OL that’s solid all around that’s led by C Jacob Gall who hasn’t allowed a sack all year on 432 Pass blocks. Their OL opens up a lot of wholes for their RBs but they have good RBs too that can make big plays (Richard Reese is t35th in the nation in Explosive runs with 13 on 189 rushes). They have one of the best defenses in the nation thanks to that Armanda defense. They have 11 good guys but I don’t think they have any stars. They’re just a bunch of guys that play football how your old highschool coaches always talk.

Airforce is a triple option team that doesn’t throw it much (98 Dropbacks on the year) but boy do they run it, and they run it WELL. They have 3 different players with 20+ miss tackles forced and 3 players with 500+ yards rushing and Brad Roberts leads the group with 15(!) rushing touchdowns. Their defense is arguably the best in the GO5 (13.7 ppg allowed is 3rd in the nation but only 60th in defensive SRS). They’re led by do it all LB TD Blackmon and Positionless player Trey Taylor. They have 5 different players with 20+ defensive stops this year.

This should be a low scoring affair but in a good way. Two elite defenses going at it should Lead to great defense.

Score prediction: Baylor 13 Airforce 10

Independence Bowl: Louisiana (6-6) vs Houston (7-5, -7)

Can I skip this game? It’s between two mediocre teams and Louisiana has 3 of their best players out. Can i just skip this? Will y’all be mad? I hope not

Prediction: Houston 38 Louisiana 24

Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest (7-5 -1) vs Missouri (6-6)

Ah! Here’s a good game. Surely Missouri won’t have arguably their 3 best players out all on the defensive side of the ball which was the side that kept them competitive all year! Oh wait they do. I’ll still talk about wake forest tho because they’re good

Wake Forest is a lot better than their record says. They’re led by arguably the best ACC QB this year in Sam Hartman who I’m surprised even decided to play in this game with all the opt outs from Missouri (4 players opting out). He’s good at stretching out plays and avoiding pressure and has one of the best arms in the nation. He can really sling the ball and and is great at throwing it over the middle of the field. He’s been at WF forever it seems and he’ll finally go to the NFL after this year iirc where he should get drafted in the first four rounds especially with all the QBs that are staying for another year. They also have A.T. Perry who’s a 6’5 205 lb deep threat that can go up and get 50/50 balls (he should also hear his name called in April if he declares). He has 26 TDs on 227 targets and 15 of those were on deep balls (he had 10 last year). Wake forest has an absolutely explosive offense and should throw all over Missouri without 3 of their best players

Prediction: Wake Forest 38 Missouri 21

Hawaii Bowl: Middle Tennessee State (7-5) Vs San Diego State (7-5, -7)

It only feels right to end the week with a good game between 2 teams with 0 opt outs.

MTSU isn’t a great team but they got some dudes That can make some plays like Frank Pleasant who has forced 47 missed tackles on 166 rushes this year and he doubles up as a receiving threat with 268 receiving yards on 31 targets. Their offense runs through him and they’re pretty average outside of him. They have a duo on defense in DT Marley Cook who’s one of the best pass rushing tackles in the nation (his 7 sacks are tied for the 9th most among IDL and 32.4% Pass rush win rate on True pass sets is second in the nation) and Edge rusher Jordan Ferguson who is also an elite pass rusher.

San Diego State is a running back factory, but this year they have the largest running back committee in the nation with no players having 100 rushes or more and 7 players having 25 or more rushes (5 of them being running backs). Their best RB is either Jordan Byrd who’s a smaller faster back who makes guys miss or Jaylon Armstead who’s a 5’11 220 lb bowling ball that is quick for his size and is 2nd in the team in Yards after contact with 236 yards despite only having 52 rushes. Their QB was Former Virginia Tech QB Braxton Burmeister but he’s had his fair share of injuries and they will probably start Jalen Mayden who isn’t a great passer but he’s a good runner. As a passer he’s mainly used as a short passer but he’ll take a shot occasionally which he isn’t really good at hitting on. They don’t have any great WRs which doesn’t help him but they probably won’t look to throw that much especially with how good of a pass rush MTSU has

I think this game will be alright but it’ll be a defensive game.

Prediction: San Diego State 20 Middle Tennessee State 14

I’ll try and post week 3 at a normal time and not 4 am lol sorry about the late posts. This week’s games are more spread out so I’ll try to have the article done and posted either Saturday night or Christmas morning

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