Bowl season won’t be nearly as fun without Army playing, that’s for sure. But there are still some interesting match-ups.
These are As For Football’s Top 5 for week 1.
As For Football’s Top 5 Bowls (Week 1)
5. Hawaii Bowl: BYU (-2) vs. Hawaii (ESPN)
Who doesn’t love Christmas football? You’re downstairs wrapping presents for the kids, and you’ve got a bowl game on… That’s Christmas!
These teams look pretty even on the stat sheet. Hawaii (9-5) has got a marginally better passing offense; BYU (7-5) has been pretty good against the pass, but folks have tuned them up in the running game for a whopping 181.3 yards rushing/game. Alas, the Rainbow Warriors have given up 200+ yards rushing/game, and that’s probably your difference. It’s probably also worth noting that BYU was the only team to beat Boise State, who in turn beat Hawaii handily in the Mountain West Conference Championship.
The Hawaii Bowl kicks off on Tuesday, Christmas Eve, at 8:00 pm.
The SoFi @HawaiiBowl is one week away. Here's all you need to know to get ready for the game.
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) December 18, 2019
4. New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-3.5) (ESPN)
A match-up of teams that almost won their conferences but couldn’t quite pull it off. SDSU (9-3) lost a heartbreaker in Hawaii to miss the Mountain West Championship on a failed tie-breaker. CMU (8-5) made it to the MAC Championship Game but got beat by underdog Miami (Ohio).
Both teams have a lot to play for.
Like Army, SDSU struggled this season on offense, scoring just 19.0 points/game. Their running game just never got going. We’ve seen that, right? Unlike Army, though, the Aztecs played shutdown defense, giving up an unfathomably low 12.8 points/game on a net average of just 288.7 yards of total offense. Wow!
CMU comes in with a much more balanced stat line by comparison. They have no obvious weaknesses save their schedule, which was nowhere near as tough as the Aztecs’.
Were I betting this game, I’d play SDSU to win on the moneyline, and at Over/Under 41, this game is a definite Under. We might see more punts than points.
The New Mexico Bowl is Saturday, December 21st at 2:00 pm.
𝙊𝙁𝙁𝙄𝘾𝙄𝘼𝙇@SDSUFootball ➡️ ɴᴇᴡ ᴍᴇxɪᴄᴏ ʙᴏᴡʟ
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) December 8, 2019
3. Gasparilla Bowl: Central Florida vs. Marshall (+17) (ESPN)
The Gasparilla Bowl is one of college football’s low-key most-interesting bowl match-ups. Marshall (8-4) comes in as a heavy underdog, but they’ve played consistent football this season, which is not something that the UCF Knights (9-3) can necessarily claim. The Knights have the better offense, putting up 536.6 yards of total offense per game and 43.0 points, but they haven’t always been stout against the run, and that might be a problem with the Thundering Herd. The Herd rush for an average of almost 200 yards/game.
Vegas thinks this game won’t be close. We think it will be.
The Gasparilla Bowl kicks off in a pirate ship in my old hometown of Tampa, Florida, on Monday, December 23rd at 2:30 pm. I’ll be at the office, unfortunately, so I guess we’ll have to put this one on the radio. Ugh.
— Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl (@GasparillaBowl) November 4, 2019
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic (+3.5) vs. Southern Methodist (ABC)
Depending on how FAU (10-3) responds to the news that Coach Lane Kiffen is headed to Ole Miss, this game has potentially one of the most interesting match-ups of the entire postseason. Florida Atlantic just won Conference USA while SMU (10-2) lost just twice in an incredibly competitive American Athletic Conference — both times to teams with super-powerful rushing attacks.
FAU isn’t just a rushing team, but they can certainly run the football, and what’s more important, they can also play a little defense. The fact that they’re getting points in this game just makes the betting easier. AFF is expecting a close contest, but the Owls are rolling hot heading into what will be a de facto home game.
The Boca Raton Bowl is Saturday, December 21st at 3:30 pm.
— RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl (@BocaBowl) December 18, 2019
1. Las Vegas Bowl: #19 Boise State vs. Washington (-3.5) (ABC)
The Mountain West Champions got locked out of a New Year’s Six Bowl again by the American Conference, creating what looks to be a bowl mismatch. Boise State (12-1) is here because they lost a close one at BYU, but they’ve beaten everybody else pretty convincingly, including former ACC powerhouse Florida State. Meanwhile, Washington (7-5) started the season ranked but dropped games to Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Utah, and lowly Colorado. Granted, Utah beat everybody. Losing to Colorado, though, is a bad look, though.
If the transitive property means anything to you, then you’ll also want to know that the Huskies beat BYU badly, winning 45-19 on the road. Had Boise State done the same, they’d be in a New Year’s Six bowl.
These teams look pretty even on the stat line. Boise has a moderately better offense, but they’ve also played a decidedly easier schedule. Washington is giving points in this game, and that’s probably right. But just so we’re clear, Boise lost exactly one game this season — on the road by a field goal. That was back in October. It would hardly be a shock to see them finish strong.
ABC has the coverage on Saturday, December 21st at 7:30 pm. This promises to be a pretty exciting game.
— SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl (@LasVegasBowl) December 18, 2019
New Orleans Bowl: AL-Birmingham vs. #20 App. State (-17) (ESPN)
UAB just got swaggerjacked in the C-USA Conference Championships, and now they have to face a team that’s even better than the one that beat them. That’s a tough ask.
This game is Saturday, December 21st at 9:00 pm.
Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo (-6.5) vs. Charlotte (ESPN)
I’m highlighting this game mostly because Buffalo is a perennial opponent of the Black Knights. Both teams are 7-5 and just happy to be here. That said, this looks like a contest between two evenly matched teams, which is great if all you want is entertaining football. Too bad they’re playing in a day game on a work day.
Kickoff is Friday, December 20th at 2:00 pm. Hopefully, you’ve got a radio in the office.
Cure Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. Liberty (CBS Sports)
This game had embarrassingly sparse attendance last year, and with both teams at 7-5, it doesn’t offer a lot this year save another chance to watch triple-option football. That’s enough, thankfully.
We’ll see you Saturday, December 21st at 2:30 pm.
* Cover image via Twitter.