By Max Littman
The 2015 College Bowl Season kicks off on Saturday, December 19th.
Here’s a preview of every bowl game today so you know what to watch and what to expect.
Atlanta, Georgia 12:00 EST December 19th, 2015.
Alcorn State (9-3) vs.
North Carolina A&T (9-2)
This year marks the inaugural year of the Celebration Bowl and pits two premier FCS teams against each other. Alcorn State, the Southwestern Athletic Conference Champions, will face off against North Carolina A&T, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champions.
Although both relatively unknown teams, both have performed admirably year and figure to be around the same skill level.
Both lost to ranked FBS teams by large margins at the beginning of the season with North Carolina A&T dropping to then #10 North Carolina 53-14 and Alcorn State dropping to then #16 Georgia Tech 69-6.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 2pm EST December 19th, 2015.
Arizona (6-6) vs.
New Mexico (7-5)
Arizona, coming off a grueling Pac-12 schedule, is favored to take this game against the home-town team, the New Mexico Lobos. Arizona is coming off a season where they lost against 2 top-25 teams, UCLA and Stanford, while also dropping to 4 other Pac-12 teams. The brightest spot for Arizona was their defeat of then #10 Utah at home 37-30.
The Wildcats are led by the return of junior linebacker, and All-American, Scooby Wright III who missed most of this past season with various injuries. He’ll be looking to stop New Mexico’s explosive tandem of running backs Teryion Gipson and Jhurell Pressley and quarterback Lamar Jordan who all very successfully ran New Mexico’s triple option offense.
The trio and the rest of New Mexico’s offense averaged a respectable 29 points a game, albeit against a schedule consisting of only one Power-5 team, Arizona State, which resulted in a 34-10 loss. New Mexico does have home-field advantage, which could help them pull of the upset.
Las Vegas, Nevada 3:30pm EST December 19th, 2015.
BYU (9-3) vs.
The Utes and the Cougars had very similar 2015 seasons, which each finding success through stretches of the season but struggling at times. After losing to then #10 UCLA and Michigan, BYU won 7 of their last 8 games to finish as the second best independent football team in the FBS.
Utah on the other hand started out hot, beating a very good Michigan team, and went on to win 8 of their 9 first games.
The team though seemed to collapse near the end of the season, losing to UCLA and Arizona, before finally finishing off their season with a win against Colorado. Although on paper it’s a very evenly matched game, BYU may be in disarray during the game because it will be their coach, Bronco Mendenhall’s final game with BYU before he leaves to take the head coaching job at Virginia.
Adding intrigue to this game is the in-state rivalry between the two teams.
Montgomery, Alabama 5:30pm EST December 19th, 2015.
Ohio (8-4) vs.
Appalachian State (10-2)
This year’s Camellia bowl pits two relatively under-the-radar, yet potentially explosive teams against each other. Appalachian State is led by their excellent running game, 6th in the nation with 268 yards per game- and will look to match-up very favorably against a weaker Ohio defense. Appalachian State’s only losses came against Clemson and a disappointing loss to Arkansas St.
Without the loss to Arkansas State this team could have been an outside choice for a New Year’s 6 bowl game. Regardless their excellent run game and defense could be too much to handle for Ohio, who after a rough middle of the season looks to be on their way back.
Ohio finished second in the Eastern Division of the Mid-American Conference after a bumpy middle of the season capitalized by a blowout loss 62-24 to eventual MAC champions, Bowling Green St. Despite being heavy underdogs in this game they will rely on their quarterback Derrius Vick and their excellent wide receiver Sebastian Smith to lead them to an upset victory.
Orlando, Florida 7:00pm EST December 19th, 2015.
San Jose State (5-7) vs.
Georgia State (6-6)
The Cure Bowl this year features two lower caliber teams.
San Jose State is even lucky to be even going bowling after they only won 5 games in the 2015 campaign. Due to a massive amount of bowls and too few 6 win bowl-eligible teams this year, San Jose State was awarded a bowl bid due to their academic performance rating.
With their wins coming against New Hampshire, Fresno State, UNLV, New Mexico, and Hawaii they look to be one of the weakest teams in a bowl game this year. One of their few bright spots though is their running back, Tyler Ervin, who has 1,469 yards and and 13 td’s this year in an excellent showing.
San Jose State will be going up against a Georgia State team who became bowl eligible after winning their last four games behind their fantastic passing game. Their quarterback, Nick Arbuckle, is ranked 6th in the country for passing yards, amassing a very formidable 4,160 through the air this season.
Arbuckle’s favorite target is wide receiver Penny Hart. Hart has also excelled this year and is currently 22nd in the country with 1,095 yards on 71 receptions. This high-powered offense will be looking to blow away San Jose State’s defense in what could be a blowout game.
New Orleans, LA 9:00pm EST December 19th, 2015.
Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs.
Arkansas State (9-3)
The home-state favorites Louisiana Tech look to prove themselves in this year’s New Orleans bowl against Sunbelt Conference Champions Arkansas State.
Louisiana Tech is led by former Florida quarterback, senior Jeff Driskel.
Driskel and his best receiver, Trent Taylor, have had a terrific year and lead the 15th best passing game in the nation. The Bulldogs’ defense though will almost assuredly have their hands full with a high powered Arkansas State squad who averages a very high 41 points per game.
Much of Arkansas State’s offensive production comes behind a very formidable rushing attack led by, Michael Gordon.
Arkansas State captured their conference with a big win over Appalachian State, and all three of their losses have come against teams who have been ranked at some point this season in USC, Mizzou, and Toledo. Since their loss to Toledo, they have won 8 games straight and finished undefeated in Sunbelt Conference play.
Louisiana Tech on the other hand has played a much lighter schedule and lost their season finale 58-24 to Southern Mississippi. The home-state team will have a lot to prove in what should be an offensive shootout in the swamp.
Cover Photo Credit: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl/Facebook (CC By 2.0)