This Nov. 19, 2016 photo shows South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) looking on from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against SMU in Dallas. South Carolina will face South Florida on Thursday in the Birmingham Bowl. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
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Quinton Flowers’ legs push USF to lead on South Carolina in Birmingham Bowl

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Through the first two quarters of play in the Birmingham Bowl, South Carolina is getting a healthy taste of Lamar Jackson Lite.

In the first 30 minutes of what is a 29-14 halftime lead for USF, Quinton Flowers did an uncanny impression of the reigning Heisman winner, accounting for all four of the Bulls’ touchdowns and 267 yards of total offense.  Three of those scores and 67 of the yards came on the ground, which is not surprising as Flowers’ 1,425 yards rushing this season was second to Jackson’s 1,538 amongst FBS quarterbacks.

The junior also completed 18-of-22 passes for 200 yards.

Also nearly perfect was Flowers’ Gamecocks counterpart, Jake Bentley, who was as impressive in the passing portion of the game as the USF quarterback was in the running/passing phases.  The true freshman completed 15 of his 19 passes in the half — after missing on his first two attempts — for 198 yards and both of USC’s touchdowns, a 25-yarder to Hayden Hurst early in the second quarter that temporarily brought the ‘Cocks to within one score and a second, with 1:12 left in the second quarter, that again brought them to within eight –temporarily, as it turned out again, as Flowers connected with D'Ernest Johnson on fourth down on a 37-yard touchdown pass with :07 left in the half.

South Carolina will receive the kickoff to open the second half.

The 10 best and 10 worst bowl matchups, as ranked by F/+

EL PASO, TX - DECEMBER 30:  The Miami Hurricanes kick off to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Sun Bowl on December 30, 2010 in El Paso, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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2016’s most even bowl matchup will happen in El Paso, Texas, while the most lopsided game will take place in Boise, Idaho.

Those on-paper analyses are based on the end-of-the-season F/+ rankings, which are explained here on Football Outsiders. Personally, they’re a go-to for getting a rough idea of how good a certain team is, so why not use them to preview the best and worst bowl matchups?

Here are the 10 best games based on how close the two participants’ F/+ rankings are:

Sun Bowl (+1): No. 25 Stanford vs. No. 26 UNC
Fiesta Bowl (+2): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Clemson
Rose Bowl (+2): No. 7 USC vs. No. 9 Penn State
Sugar Bowl (+2): No. 8 Auburn vs. No. 10 Oklahoma
Armed Forces Bowl (+2): No. 51 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 53 Navy

Peach Bowl (+4): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 Washington
Quick Lane Bowl (+4): No. 93 Boston College vs. No. 97 Maryland
New Mexico Bowl (+5): No. 81 New Mexico vs. No. 86 UT-San Antonio
Citrus Bowl (+6): No. 5 LSU vs. No. 11 Louisville
Cotton Bowl (+10): No. 12 Wisconsin vs. No. 22 Western Michigan

Obviously, the two College Football Playoff games (Ohio State-Clemson, Alabama-Washington) are among the closest, but it’s good to see three of the four other New Year’s Six bowls in here as well. The Orange Bowl (No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 13 Florida State) just barely missed the cut.

As for the 10 biggest mismatches:

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (+71): No. 29 Colorado State vs. No. 100 Idaho
Birmingham Bowl (+61): No. 33 South Florida vs. No. 94 South Carolina
Military Bowl (+54): No. 18 Temple vs. No. 72 Wake Forest
Cactus Bowl (+52): No. 14 Boise State vs. No. 66 Baylor
Miami Beach Bowl (+45): No. 44 Tulsa vs. No. 89 Central Michigan

Arizona Bowl (+38): No. 49 Air Force vs. No. 87 South Alabama
Las Vegas Bowl (+30): No. 20 Houston vs. No. 50 San Diego State
Poinsettia Bowl (+27): No. 30 BYU vs. No. 57 Wyoming
Heart of Dallas Bowl (+26): No. 85 Army vs. No. 111 North Texas
Russell Athletic Bowl (+25): No. 15 Miami vs. No. 40 West Virginia

It’s not surprising three of these games involve top-level Group of Five teams (South Florida, Temple, Boise State) playing 6-6 Power Five teams (South Carolina, Wake Forest, Baylor), given that’s where a lot of bowl mismatches can take place. It was a little surprising to see the gulf between Houston and San Diego State be so significant, though.

But while these matchups may either be close or lopsided, always remember the ironclad rule of bowl season: Weird stuff is gonna happen. One team may not care while the other does, one team may not deal with the elements (especially in the northern bowls) as well as the other, or one team may come in with something to prove while the other team doesn’t. The best-case scenario for us college football fans is that every game is interesting and worth watching, no matter what the on-paper numbers may say.

Quinton Flowers and South Florida deal Navy first conference loss of the season in high-scoring affair

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 28: Running back D'Ernest Johnson #2 of the South Florida Bulls outruns safety Sean Williams #6 and cornerback Elijah Merchant #14 of the Navy Midshipmen in the first quarter for the team's second touchdown at Raymond James Stadium on October 28, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images)
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South Florida scored a touchdown on the very first drive of the game and didn’t stop until the final minute of the first half in a wild, high-scoring affair on Friday night that dealt Navy their first American Athletic Conference loss of the season, 52-45.

Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers appeared to be fully healthy after limping off last week in a loss to Temple, throwing for 219 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a team-leading 176 yards and two scores. He pretty much picked apart the overmatched Midshipmen, leading six straight touchdown drives to open the game that included two 40-plus yard plays to find the end zone in the first quarter alone.

His counterpart in the backfield Marlon Mack wasn’t too shabby either, scoring an 85-yard touchdown on his way to 125 yards on the night with just 11 carries. Backup tailback D'Ernest Johnson also found plenty of running room as he topped the century mark on the ground as well and added two touchdowns for good measure.

While USF did have over 600 yards of total offense and controlled the game pretty much from the opening whistle, Navy did claw their way back into the game by averaging over seven yards a play for the night and scoring three fourth quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Will Worth had a pretty great night passing for an option quarterback (15-27, 299 yards, one touchdown, one interception) in addition to leading the team in rushing and scoring four times.

The win kept the Bulls’ alive in the AAC East and moved them to 7-2 on the season. They still will need Temple to lose again if they want to make it to the conference title game but the rebound effort at home was impressive all things considered.

For Navy meanwhile, the loss didn’t mean much in the AAC West standings as they remain atop them and ahead of Memphis, Tulsa and Houston. It does drop them to 5-2 on the season ahead of their annual showdown with Notre Dame but they will probably enter the contest as significant favorites given the way they played on Friday night.

Brandon Doughty’s 3 TDs lead WKU to Miami Beach Bowl win

Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) hands off the football to running back Anthony Wales (20) during the first half of the NCAA college football Miami Beach Bowl game against South Florida, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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Western Kentucky (12-2) may have started off slowly against South Florida (8-5) in he Miami Beach Bowl, but the Hilltoppers exploded in the second half. Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty passed three touchdowns in the third quarter as WKU outscored the Bulls 28-7 out of the halftime break en route to a 45-35 victory.

Wester Kentucky used big plays to lead the charge in the second half. Doughty completed a 69-yard pass to Nicholas Norris in the third quarter to take a 17-14 lead on South Florida. The two hooked up again a couple of minutes later for a 55-yard scoring strike. Doughty tossed a third touchdown late in the third quarter, this time to Jared Dangerfield from 28 yards ou to build a 38-21 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

South Florida was not quite down for the count though. In a span of four minutes, South Florida scored two touchdowns with Quinton Flowers passed and ran for a score to trim the Western Kentucky lead to 38-35, but with just over five minutes to play the Hilltoppers padded their lead to 45-35 with a 42-yard touchdown run by Anthony Wales.

Western Kentucky racked up over 600 yards of offense, with Dougthy throwing for 461 yards. South Florida’s offense had a productive day as well, putting together 543 yards of offense.

Western Kentucky is now 2-1 all-time in bowl games, including last year’s thriller against Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl. The Conference USA champions also defeated their former head coach, Willie Taggart. Western Kentucky will open the season on the road against Alabama on September 10. The Hilltoppers will also host Vanderbilt next September.

South Florida will have a chance to get off to a good start in 2016 with a home game against Towson. A home game against Northern Illinois and a road game at Syracuse will be good opportunities for some solid wins as well as South Florida could emerge as a trend team in the American athletic Conference. The Bulls also host Florida State next September. Watch out for these Bulls.

Miami Beach Bowl: South Florida defense cooling off explosive WKU

South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) throws a pass against Cincinnati during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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Conference USA champion Western Kentucky took a while to get going and appeared to be set to tie the Miami Beach Bowl at 14-14 before halftime, but a bad penalty and back-to-back sacks by South Florida’s defense assured the Bulls would keep a 14-10 halftime lead, and perhaps the momentum.

On first and goal from the six-yard line, Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, and the Bulls sacked WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty on the next two plays for a combined loss of  17 yards to drive WKU out of field goal range, leaving the Hilltoppers to punt the ball away instead.

Western Kentucky could go just seven yards on the first six plays of the game, but the first few possessions of the game for both teams were far from extraordinary. The teams exchanged punts and a turnover on downs on the first five drives of the game. South Florida finally got things going with Quinton Flowers rushing 12 yards for a touchdown to cap a 62-yard drive keyed by back-to-back completions for first downs from Flowers to Rodney Adams and Ryeshene Bronson.

Down 14-0, Western Kentucky finally found a spark with a Doughty pass to  for a 53-yard gain on the first play of a drive midway through the second quarter. Anthony Wales picked up the final 13 yards on the drive for a touchdown. The touchdown had to be upheld by a video review, because it appeared Wales lost control of the football as he crossed the goal line. The official video review led to upholding the call on the field.

Goal line cameras, people. Goal. Line. Cameras. You have the technology. Use it.