The sixth and final stanza of bowl-a-palooza 2019 stretches from Thursday until Monday. The only day off is Sunday and each of the five games air on ESPN.
The set kicks off on Thursday afternoon (3pm EST) with an attractive matchup in the Birmingham Bowl followed by the Gator Bowl (the only clash between Power 5 squads remaining) at 7pm EST.
Friday’s sole game, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, is in the afternoon time slot (3:30pm EST) and Saturday’s one destination is an early start (11:30am EST) for the Armed Forces Bowl.
That leaves Monday night’s game – the 40th and final bowl contest – the LendingTree Bowl at 7:30pm EST.
If you’ve made it this far – congratulations and thank you.
Thursday, Jan. 2
TicketSmarter BIRMINGHAM BOWL
BOSTON COLLEGE (6-6) vs. (21) CINCINNATI (10-3) – ACC vs. AAC – Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala. – 3pm EST – ESPN
First year: 2006
Previous names: PapaJohns.com (2006-10), BBVA Compass (2011-14)
Most appearances: South Florida (3-0), Pittsburgh (1-2)
Last year: Wake Forest 37 – Memphis 34
Boston College is 14-12 in bowl action. It was scheduled to face then (23) Boise State in last season’s First Responder Bowl but the game was cancelled due to weather. Its last bowl win came in 2016 when it bested Maryland 36-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Cincinnati is 8-9 in bowl play. It edged Virginia Tech 35-31 in last year’s Military Bowl, snapping a three-bowl game losing skid.
Boston College and Cincinnati have met seven times previously, the Eagles lead the all-time series 4-3 but the Bearcats won the most recent meeting, 22-years ago, in 1997.
Line: Cincinnati -6.5
Hidden beneath the layers of the disappointing 6-6 finish is the fact that Boston College is ranked No. 6 – nationally – in rushing yards per game. Its average of 267.83 places it just 4.4 yards shy of (2) Ohio State’s mark (272.23). It means that Cincinnati – which is currently ranked No. 49 in rush defense – is going to have to improve on the season-high 270 rushing yards and four TDs it gave up to the Buckeye’s in Week 2’s 42-0 shutout loss. The good news is, BC’s defense has struggled epically this season (No. 97 in scoring, No. 89 vs. the run and No. 126 against the pass), which may make Bearcats’ offense (also run-centric) seem as potent as Ohio State’s.
Players to Watch
Boston College: sophomore RB David Bailey (#26) (the Eagles No. 2 rusher this season – moving up on the depth chart with leading rusher A.J. Dillon skipping the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft)
Cincinnati: junior RB Michael Warren II (#3) (tied for No. 16 in the FBS in rushing TDs), sophomore S Ja’von Hicks (#3) (tied for No. 7 in the FBS in interceptions)
Due to the departure of Steve Addazio, Boston College will be coached by interim head coach Rich Gunnell who played receiver for the Eagles and most recently served as a receivers coach at BC, a role he’s had for four years. Jeff Hafley, who was Ohio State’s DC this season, will take over the head job in Chestnut Hill for the 2020 season. He stayed on with the Buckeyes through their appearance in the CFP Semifinals.
TaxSlayer GATOR BOWL
INDIANA (8-4) vs. TENNESSEE (7-5) — Big Ten vs. SEC – TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Fla. – 7pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1946
Previous names: TaxSlayer (2014-17)
Most appearances: Florida (7-2), Clemson (4-5)
Last year: (21) Texas A&M 52 – NC State 13
Indiana is 3-8 in bowl play. It last went bowling in 2016, falling narrowly to Utah (26-24) in the Foster Farms Bowl, also its fourth-consecutive bowl loss. The most recent win came in the 1991 Copper Bowl, a 24-0 shutout of Baylor.
Tennessee is 28-24 in bowl action. It last downed then (24) Nebraska 38-24 in the 2016 Music City Bowl.
A rematch of the 1987/88 Peach Bowl (a 27-22 win for Tennessee), this is only the second time in history the Hoosiers and Volunteers have met on the gridiron.
Line: Indiana -1.5
This matchup offers an under-the-radar battle of strengths that pits Indiana’s high-flying offense against Tennessee’s stifling D. Yes, that’s right – tune in to see the Hoosiers’ No. 13 ranked passing offense (that’s three slots better than Oklahoma’s) clash with the Volunteers’ No. 17 ranked secondary (that’s one place better than Florida’s). Keep in mind that Tennessee will need every defensive stop it can get – the Vols are ranked a lowly No. 96 in scoring offense, averaging a mere 24.3 points per game.
Players to Watch
Indiana: junior WR Whop Philyor (#1) (No. 22 in the FBS in receiving yards per game)
Tennessee: senior DB Nigel Warrior (#18) (tied for No. 17 in the FBS in interceptions)
Friday, Jan. 3
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
OHIO (6-6) vs. NEVADA (7-5) – MAC vs. MWC – Albertson’s Stadium, Boise, ID – 3:30pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1997
Previous names: Humanitarian (1997-2003), MPC Computers (2004-06), Humanitarian (2007-10)
Most appearances: Boise State (3-1) and Utah State (1-3)
Last year: BYU 49 – Western Michigan 18
Ohio is 4-8 in bowl action. It blanked San Diego State 27-0 in last season’s Frisco Bowl.
Nevada is 6-10 in bowl play. It outlasted Arkansas State 16-13 in overtime in last year’s Arizona Bowl.
This is Ohio and Nevada’s first-ever football meeting.
Line: Ohio -6
Ohio has quietly managed a No. 20 rank in offensive scoring and a No. 22 mark in rushing yards per game this season. It matches up reasonably well against a Nevada D that has struggled to stop opponents from scoring (No. 102) and moving the ball through the air (No. 106) but which has had some success shutting down the run (No. 43). On the flip side, it’s the Bobcats’ average D trying to contain a Wolf Pack offense that is ranked No. 111 in the nation in scoring.
Players to Watch
Ohio: redshirt freshman RB O’Shaan Allison (#28), senior QB Nathan Rourke (#12), junior RB De’Montre Tuggle (#24) and sophomore RB Julian Ross (#2) (combined they’ve rushed for 2,377 yards and 28 TDs)
Nevada: sophomore DE Dom Peterson (#99) (No. 2 in the MWC in sacks and tied for No. 3 in tackles for a loss)
Saturday, Jan. 4
Lockheed Martin ARMED FORCES BOWL
SOUTHERN MISS (7-5) vs. TULANE (6-6) – C-USA vs. AAC – Amon G. Carter Stadium, Ft. Worth, Texas – 11:30am EST – ESPN
First year: 2003
Previous names: Fort Worth (2003-05)
Most appearances: Air Force (1-4), Houston (2-3)
Last year: (22) Army 70 – Houston 14
Southern Miss is 11-12 in bowl action. It last went bowling in 2017, falling 42-13 to Florida State in the Independence Bowl. Its most recent win came one year earlier in the 2016 New Orleans Bowl, a 28-21 victory over Louisiana.
Tulane is 5-7 in bowl play. It zapped Louisiana 41-24 in last season’s Cure Bowl.
Southern Miss and Tulane have met 30 times previously, sharing membership in C-USA from 1996-2013. The Golden Eagles hold a 23-7 advantage and have won six-straight.
Line: Tulane -7
These two teams have strengths that matchup incredibly well. First up, it’s Southern Miss’s No. 23 ranked passing offense taking on Tulane’s No. 50 ranked pass D (while not elite, it’s the best defensive unit). Next, and most deliciously, tune in to see the Green Wave’s No. 13 ranked rushing attack try and do its thing vs. a Golden Eagle defense ranked No. 18 against the run. On one hand, Tulane’s average of 249.83 rushing yards per game is just shy of (4) Oklahoma’s 251.23 mark and on the other, the Golden Eagles held eight of their 12 regular season opponents to fewer than 135 rushing yards in 2019.
Players to Watch
Southern Miss: junior QB Jack Abraham (#15) (No. 19 in the FBS in passing yards per game), junior WR Quez Watkins (#16) (No. 9 in the FBS in receiving yards per game)
Tulane: senior QB Justin McMillan (#12), senior RB Corey Dauphine (#6), senior RB Darius Bradwell (#10), sophomore RB Amare Jones (#11) and redshirt freshman RB Cameron Carroll (#20) (combined they’ve rushed for 2,390 yards and 29 TDs)
Monday, Jan. 6
LOUISIANA (10-3) vs. MIAMI OHIO (8-5, MAC champions) – Sun Belt vs. MAC – Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala. – 7:30pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1999
Previous names: Mobile Alabama (1999-2000), GMAC (2001-10), GoDaddy (2011-15), Dollar General (2016-18)
Most appearances: Arkansas State (2-2)
Last year: Troy 42 – Buffalo 32
Louisiana is 4-2 in bowl play. It fell to Tulane 41-24 in last year’s Cure Bowl. Its most recent win came in the 2014 New Orleans Bowl, a 16-3 win over Nevada.
Miami OH is 7-4 in bowl action. It hasn’t been bowling since 2016 when it got edged 17-16 by Mississippi State in the St. Petersburg Bowl. It last won in the 2010 GoDaddy.com Bowl, a 35-21 victory over Middle Tennessee.
Louisiana and Miami OH have only met twice previously, a home-and-home series in 1991 and 1993, both wins for the Redhawks.
Line: Louisiana -13.5
This one is all about Miami’s average defense trying to hang on against one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. The Redhawks are No. 69 in scoring D and No. 81 vs. the run, numbers that will be severely tested by a Ragin’ Cajun offense ranked a lofty No. 11 nationally in scoring and No. 7 in rushing yards per game. The other issue for Miami is moving the ball and keeping its offense on the field – its currently ranked No. 95 in scoring, No. 104 in rushing and No. 114 in passing. It will be a tall order vs. a Louisiana defense ranked No. 20 in scoring and No. 19 vs. the run. The one area where the Redhawks could have an advantage offensively is vs. the Cajuns’ secondary, ranked No. 86 in the FBS vs. the pass.
Players to Watch
Louisiana: junior RB Elijah Mitchell (#15), senior RB Raymond Calais (#4) and junior RB Trey Ragas (#9) (combined they’ve rushed for 2,755 yards and 32 TDs)
Miami OH: senior DB Travion Banks (#6) (tied for No. 7 in the FBS in interceptions)
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference/College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Lines courtesy of OddsShark.