2015 Miami Beach Bowl Preview

December 20, 2015

Day 1 of the 2015-2016 college football bowl season was as exciting as it should be, and I do apologize to anyone who came to the site Friday night or Saturday morning expecting to see a preview and were disappointed to find that one had not been posted.

I basically wrecked my entire weekend on Friday night, and since Around The Corn actually got started with bowl action six years ago, it does upset me that I was not able to kick it off the right way.

Although I wasn’t able to preview (or recap, since I was in an out of sleep all of yesterday) the first day of action, I fully intend to provide coverage for the remainder of bowl season, which will undoubtedly provide more action throughout the next two weeks.

After a one day break, action resumes on Monday afternoon in the Florida sun. If you have the ability to watch this game live, I highly suggest you do so. If not, you can join me in listening to the game on the radio at work.

Let’s take a look at the bowl game taking place on December 23rd.

Miami Beach Bowl

Western Kentucky vs. South Florida (Monday, 2:30 PM ET – ESPN)

If you want to talk about close ties between two teams, look no further than the Miami Beach Bowl, where South Florida will return to the postseason for the first time since 2010 after six straight bowl appearances. The Bulls are coached by Willie Taggart, a former Western Kentucky quarterback in the late 1990s and the Hilltoppers’ head coach from 2009 to 2012. Taggart has a history of turning programs around, and he’ll have a chance to bring postseason hardware back to the Tampa area if he can best his alma mater and former employer.

Serious college football fans already know about Western Kentucky and their top 10 offense nationally, but for the casual fans tuning in to this matinee, here’s a quick rundown. The Hilltoppers are led by quarterback Brandon Doughty, a graduate student who was on the watch list for most of the major quarterback awards at the beginning of the season. Doughty led the country in touchdown passes for the second consecutive season, amassing 45 to only seven interceptions. Not only is Doughty likely using this game as a chance to impress NFL scouts, but he is also a native of Florida, growing up around half an hour from Miami. The Bulls, who put together an impressive 8-4 campaign in the competitive American Athletic Conference, are defensively oriented and will look to slow Doughty down. Unless this can be done, South Florida may have trouble keeping up with the Hilltoppers.

Because of Doughty’s ties to Florida and the Bulls making a postseason return in their own state, expect both teams to be motivated and ready to play from the onset. Keep in mind, however, that even a great Doughty performance does not guarantee an easy victory for Western Kentucky. In last year’s inaugural Bahamas Bowl, Doughty threw for five touchdowns in the first half but the Hilltoppers still needed a crazy last second stop to beat Central Michigan by a point. Taggart should still know his former team fairly well, which is why I have the Bulls for 20 points in a minor upset.

My Pick: 37-35 South Florida

If you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. You can also like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two days before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

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