2016 Bahamas Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl and Dollar General Bowl Preview

December 22, 2016

On Friday we will get multiple bowl games for the first time since the opening Saturday.

It will be essentially a full day of football, with the first game starting in the early afternoon and the final kickoff beginning at approximately 8 PM ET.

I know I’m ready, as Friday also marks the beginning of a 10 day break for me. I haven’t had a break this long since college and one of the best things about it will be the opportunity to watch all the bowl games instead of listen to the day games on the radio at work.

Let’s take a look at the games taking place on December 23.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (Friday, 1 PM ET – ESPN)

It must be something about playing on an island that brings out the best of a team’s offense. In the two years of existence of the Bahamas Bowl, the winner has not failed to score at least 45 points. It would not be surprising if the trend continued with these two programs. Old Dominion is a balanced offense whose leader, Ray Lawry, can put the team on his back with his rushing ability if necessary. But balance will be the key for the Monarchs, as Eastern Michigan’s poor pass defense opens the door for David Washington to have a monster game.

Eastern Michigan gets most of its offensive productivity from the pass, and quite frankly the Eagles will need to hope their strength is better than ODU’s to win this game. The Monarchs are Conference USA’s fourth ranked pass defense, which is an achievement considering the number of pass-happy teams in the league. Although the Eagles will likely put more points on ODU than the proud defense would prefer, it will be hard for Eastern Michigan to slow down the Monarchs as well. The way the MAC has looked thus far in bowl season, I think the Old Dominion will notch its first bowl victory in its first ever appearance.

My Pick: 48-41 Old Dominion

Bowl Mania Confidence Points: 2

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

#25 Navy vs. Louisiana Tech (Friday, 4:30 PM ET)

It took 12 games into the bowl season to get a ranked team, but Navy hasn’t been playing like the team that managed to work itself into the rankings midway through the season. The Army loss was due, quite frankly, but the Midshipmen have issues that extend beyond that game. Leading rusher and starting quarterback Will Worth was knocked out for the year in the AAC title game against Temple, leaving Navy scrambling for options. Zach Abbey, a sophomore, will lead the Midshipmen in this game after scoring two touchdowns in his long collegiate start against Army.

In addition to Navy’s injury woes, many are unaware of just how good Louisiana Tech has been this season. The Bulldogs are the nation’s third ranked pass offense in the country, with quarterback Ryan Higgins averaging over 350 passing yards per game. The Midshipmen have struggled against potent passing attacks this season, but had managed to score enough points to win all five games in which they had allowed over 300 yards through the air. The luck may run out here, though, as Louisiana Tech has had time to prepare for the triple option and it will be orchestrated by a green quarterback.

My Pick: 34-23 Louisiana Tech

Bowl Mania Confidence Points: 23

Dollar General Bowl

Ohio vs. Troy (Friday, 8 PM ET)

Think Troy is excited for this game? The Trojans haven’t been bowling since 2010 when, consequently, they beat Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl. The program will making its return to postseason football just 144 miles from home, meaning that the fans should be out in full force on Friday night for this game. Ohio is making a second straight trip to Alabama for bowl season, looking to get back on the winning track after losing on a last second field goal to Appalachian State in the 2015 Camellia Bowl.

After starting the season 8-1, the Trojans limped to the finish, losing two of their last three. However, Troy is a complete football team, leading the Sun Belt in total offense and finishing the regular season third in yards allowed on defense. The Bobcats kept things interesting against Western Michigan in the MAC title game, which plays a similar style of football to Troy. However, Ohio was helped by two forced interceptions and will need to do that again to avoid being eaten up by Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers. The junior throws for a lot of yards, but has thrown multiple interceptions in three games this season. This should be a back-and-forth affair, but in the end Troy’s offense is more productive and should provide enough of a spark for a tight victory.

My Pick: 27-23 Troy

Bowl Mania Confidence Points: 11

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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