One day there will be a movie made about the UAB Blazers, the program that would not die. When the board announced it was shutting down the football program in 2014, there was universal outrage across Alabama-Birmingham, demanding the decision be reversed. This led to new fundraising and return two years later. Last year the Blazers won a bowl game, this year they won Conference USA. Are you going to bet against them? I am not. UAB has a strong defense that will frustrate Northern Illinois all night.
Watchability factor: The story of UAB is the reason to watch this one alone, as Northern Illinois does not bring much to the table after an 8-5 season in the MAC. The Blazers won ten games and captured the Conference USA championship in just their second year after a two-season hiatus after the program was shut down in 2014.
2018 DXL Frisco Bowl
San Diego State 27 Ohio 23
These two teams come into Frisco in opposite directions as Ohio finished strong in the MAC, while San Diego State struggled at the end of the season in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs lost their final three games in the regular season, and four of their last five games to finish 7-5. The Bobcats meanwhile won five of their last six for Frank Solich, their 74-year-old coach. The logical pick would be for the trends to continue, but the time off will blunt any momentum either negative or positive. Rocky Long who is 68 always seems to get the best out of his team in the bowl which is why I sense a win for San Diego State.
Watchability factor: Almost none. There are not many future professionals on either team and not one impact Sunday Player. Both teams were in the middle of the pack in their respective conferences and are playing in a soccer stadium near Dallas. There is nothing in this game to hook on to, except there may be nothing better to do on a Wednesday, though it may be more fun to count flowers on the wall.
2018 Bad Boys Mower Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall 34 South Florida 20
South Florida has a distinct advantage in that this game is being played at their home stadium in Tampa. After years of unwatchable football in Tropicana Field, the game is moving to Raymond James Stadium. However, with five straight losses, the Bulls are playing terrible football and it likely won’t help them even if the game was on Mars. Marshall always has recruited in Florida well, and this bowl game will help in those efforts as they get a big game from Alex Thomson to win by two touchdowns.
Watchability factor: This is essentially a South Florida home game against Marshall dressed up like a bowl game, with South Florida playing terrible football over the last two months. Marshall has some talent and players who may be seen in the future on Sunday, but this game is another bowl that should not exist at least it’s no longer at Tropicana Field.
2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Toledo 51 FIU 47
One thing that Toledo can do is light up the scoreboard, as they have scored at least 45 points in four of their last five games. Florida International is also capable of putting up lots of points. Expect to see plenty of empty seats, of points and little defense, as the last team to have the ball could be the winner. Look for a big game for the Rockets talented receiving core as Donte Johnson and Cody Thompson will be far too much for the Panthers to handle.
Watchability factor: If you like high scoring games, with no defensive resistance this may be the game for you. However, with most people at work, and at office Christmas Parties, the copy room karaoke contest is likely to be more entertaining. This one is truly strange in that its title sponsor is an industrial park near Chicago asking for manufactures. Yeah, this is exhibit 910 that there are too many meaningless ridiculous bowl games.
2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
BYU 31 Western Michigan 20
BYU is back in bowl season after a terrible 2017 season, finishing 6-6 as an independent. The Cougars are trying to be Notre Dame they will never be Notre Dame. They need to get back to the Mountain West Conference. Western Michigan was not better posting a 7-5 record in the MAC. The Cougars should have a big home field advantage with Idaho’s large Mormon population. The Cougars in their 6-6 record played some competitive games against good teams and have more talent and will win the game easily.
Watchability factor: Unless you like watching the blue turf of Boise there is no reason to watch this game. BYU is a program adrift since leaving a conference as it attempts to rival Notre Dame. The Cougars have some talented players that may someday play on Sunday, but otherwise, there is no reason to watch this one.