2018 Dollar General and Hawaii Bowl Preview

December 22, 2018

Here we are, less than an hour before the Dollar General Bowl and typing the preview for said game.

Today has been a bit of a struggle.

Here’s a short preview for the Saturday games that will take us into Sunday morning.

Dollar General Bowl

Buffalo vs. Troy (Saturday, 7 PM ET – ESPN)

Strength will battle against strength in Mobile when the Buffalo Bowls take on the Troy Trojans for this game. The Bulls narrowly missed out on a MAC title to add to their impressive season, but still have an offense that is going to give Troy’s stout defense fits. Quarterback Tyree Jackson tied for the MAC lead throwing for 27 touchdowns during the regular season and is backed up by a pair of freshmen at the running back position in Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks that have combined for 25 rushing touchdowns on the year. Troy’s rushing defense was second to just Appalachian State in the Sun Belt at stopping the ground game this season, so it will be interesting to see which unit reigns supreme.

If the battle is back and forth, Troy’s own running game could provide the X-factor. Junior back B.J. Smith is a 1,000 yard rusher that had a streak of five straight games with at least 100 yards rushing at one point in the season, but hasn’t eclipsed the century mark in a game since early November. Smith is the leader of an offense that has made great strides throughout this season and has the opportunity to help the Trojans win 10 games in a season for the first time in school history. Expect the Trojans to be focused and ready to win this game, which will propel them past the offensively talented Bulls. I have Troy for 17 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 30-27 Troy

SoFi Hawaii Bowl

Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET – ESPN)

The Rainbow Warriors return to the postseason for just the third time since 2010, earning another spot in its namesake game on the island. Beating the Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium is tough during the regular season, but doing it during the postseason is even tougher. In fact, since 1999 the Rainbow Warriors have played in eight previous bowl games in Honolulu and are 5-3 in those games. Nick Rolovich’s team gives up a lot of points (allowing 35.4 points per game) but can score in bunches thanks to a passing attack that ranks ninth in the country. Sophomore quarterback Cole McDonald had had a tremendous season and it will be interesting to see whether he can operate successfully against a Louisiana Tech team that allows fewer than 200 yards per game through the air.

The Bulldogs come into this game having lost three of their final four regular season games and do not want to engage in an offensive shootout with the pass happy Rainbow Warriors. Instead, ball control and forcing turnovers will be Louisiana Tech’s keys to victory. Hawaii has a -9 turnover margin on the year and if the Bulldogs can earn themselves extra opportunities on offense, keeping McDonald & Co. off the field, Louisiana Tech can win this game. Unfortunately for the C-USA representative, I think that McDonald will be on the field a lot and Hawaii will defend its house. I have the Rainbow Warriors for 25 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 38-31 Hawaii

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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