2018 Boca Raton and Frisco Bowl Preview

December 17, 2018
By K. Becks

Take a breath, because the barrage of college football that was this past Saturday is over.

We get a bit of  break from the postseason celebrations on Monday thanks to the NFL, but the bowl action resumes on Tuesday evening, kicking off a streak of five consecutive days with at least one college football contest.

In Bowl Mania news, my dad’s strategy to gain an early lead has once again paid off, as he leads the Von Hugendong group by a sizable margin after the first six games. Considering his 5-1 overall record on the weekend, he didn’t sacrifice a ton to do it, either.

Thanks to a spotty week, Around The Corn’s bowl previews will be somewhat sporadic the next few days. As a result, in this preview we’ll take a look at both the Tuesday and Wednesday games.

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

UAB vs. Northern Illinois (Tuesday, 7 PM ET – ESPN)

The gritty Huskies won their second MAC title under Rod Carey in a way befitting of this year’s squad, scratching and clawing their way to an unlikely one point victory over a Buffalo team that had been the class of the conference all season long. What Carey’s team lacks in offensive firepower, they make up for in defensive hustle, as Northern Illinois leads the nation with 50 sacks and tacked on 104 tackles for loss as well. Defensive end Sutton Smith will try to make his final collegiate start a memorable one by leading the Huskies defense against one of Conference USA’s best rushing attacks. Smith is all over the field and fun to watch.

Based on how other Conference USA teams have fared thus far during bowl season, UAB’s improbable conference title in just its second season since a two year hiatus from FBS seems slightly less impressive. Even if their conference brethren had done better over the weekend, I’d still feel confident in Northern Illinois being able to handle the Blazers. Carey is committed to this program but despite taking his team to four previous bowl games, has yet to win one with the Huskies. His luck will change in his second trip to the Boca Raton Bowl, as Northern Illinois will win what will be a close, low scoring affair. I have the Huskies for 2 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 21-16 Northern Illinois

DXL Frisco Bowl

San Diego State vs. Ohio (Wednesday, 8 PM ET – ESPN)

Something’s got to give outside Dallas on Wednesday night when the nation’s fourth best run defense takes on the nation’s ninth best rushing offense. The Ohio offense, which between quarterback Nathan Rourke and running backs A.J. Ouellette and Maleek Irons, has 32 combined rushing touchdowns and nearly 2,800 yards of offense on the ground. These gaudy statistics are why many in Athens, Ohio feel that the trio, especially the junior Rourke, deserve far more credit than the regional attention they’ve gotten this season. They’ll finally get their chance against Rocky Long’s stout defensive crew, which buoyed a San Diego State squad that has been looking for its identity on offense for most of the season.

Regarding that identity crisis, the Aztecs may be thankful that there is little film on perhaps its most effective offensive player. Quarterback Christian Chapman was on the preseason Johnny Unitas Golden Arm watch list but has been hampered by a knee injury for much of the season. Coach Long has already confirmed that Chapman will start this bowl game and if the bowl practices have had a positive effect, the senior could have a monster day. Ohio is as bad at stopping the pass as it is good at running the ball, providing the San Diego State offense with a blueprint for success if running back Juwan Washington finds the box being stacked to stop him. While Ohio’s offense will have its moments, I think Chapman will surprise everyone by leading the Aztecs to a victory in this one. I have San Diego State for 9 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 33-27 San Diego State

If you have interest in offering your insight for any of the bowl games this season, shoot me an email at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or reach out on one of ATC’s social media sites (Facebook, Twitter). I’d be happy to accommodate.

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