2018 Bahamas and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Preview

December 20, 2018

We’re not quite to the point where I will urge you to actually pick the opposite of what I predict if you’re playing Bowl Mania, but we’re getting close.

It feels as if the bowl season just began, but as of Friday’s games we’ll be more than a quarter through the schedule.

At the quarter mark, my dad still holds the lead in the Von Hugendong Bowl Mania group. Friday starts a string of six games in two days, though, so it remains to be seen whether the uptick will give someone else a chance to seize the top spot.

Let’s take a look at the bowl games taking place on the Winter solstice.

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

Florida International vs. Toledo (Friday, 12:30 PM ET – ESPN)

The Bahamas Bowl is perhaps the most difficult draw in terms of staying focused during the lead up to the actual game. Butch Davis and Jason Candle have had to fight all week with the beautiful weather and the beach, which absolutely plays a factor in what happens on the field. While Florida International is a bit more used to the good weather this time of year, it is a literal vacation for the Toledo players. Luckily for the Rockets, offensive shootouts are the norm historically in Nassau and Toledo’s offense was second to just Ohio in the MAC this season in terms of yards per contest. Like Ohio, the Rockets get things done on the ground and could have a monster day against a suspect Panthers run defense.

However, Florida International is no slouch on the offense end in its own right and may be blowing up a poor Toledo defense that struggles mightily against the pass. Panthers quarterback James Morgan is smart with the football and can pick apart defenses in large chunks, twice averaging at least 10 yards per pass in games this season. Assuming that Morgan takes care of the football, Florida International should set the pace of this game. The defense will need to get some stops against the Toledo running game in order for Davis’s team to win, though. I think that the Panthers will do just enough defensively to survive an exciting offensive battle. I have Florida International for 15 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 41-37 Florida International

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Brigham Young vs. Western Michigan (Friday, 4 PM ET – ESPN)

Despite being the third best team in its own state by way of two losses in the Battle for the Beehive Boot triangle of games, BYU scrapped together enough wins to get back to a bowl after breaking a 12-season streak of postseason play in 2017. Kalani Sitake’s squad got things done with a stout defense for the majority of the season but the offense came alive in BYU’s final three games, a testament to the quick maturation of freshman quarterback Zach Wilson. who took over for Tanner Mangum midway through the season and threw for half of his eight total passing touchdowns in those final three games. Wilson is active in the pocket and will give Western Michigan’s defensive front issues as well with his feet.

Wilson isn’t the only freshman bound to make an impact in this game. On the other side, Western Michigan will also start a freshman at quarterback in Kaleb Eleby, who started the final four games for the Broncos after Jon Wassink went down with an injury. The fact that both teams are starting the future at the quarterback position should mean that bowl practices carried true meaning and the two teams should be focused. Given Wilson’s more dynamic nature and the fact that Eleby will be facing a defense that allowed just 13 passing touchdowns all season (T-14th in the country), I give the nod to the team that has already played on the blue turf earlier in the year. I have the Cougars for 30 points in Bowl Mania, my most confident pick yet.

My Pick: 28-17 Brigham Young

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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