Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 21 bowl menu, which today features a pair of MAC teams and one from Conference USA as well as a football independent.
WHO: Florida International (8-4) vs. Toledo (7-5)
WHAT: The 5th Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The sponsor of this bowl is an Illinois industrial park that paid $300,000 for the right to have its name slapped on the game. … Butch Davis has won eight games in each of his first two seasons at FIU; a ninth win later today would set a single-season record for a football program that first played at this level in 2004. … The seven wins for 2017 MAC champion Toledo, meanwhile, are the program’s fewest since going 7-5 in 2013. The previous four seasons before this year, the Rockets had totaled 11, nine, 10 and nine wins. … This marks Toledo’s eighth bowl appearance the past nine seasons; the Rockets are 3-4 in that span. … FIU has lost two straight bowl games (2017 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl) after winning its first postseason appearance in the 2010 Little Caesar’s Bowl against, you guessed it, Toledo. … FIU quarterback James Morgan, a transfer from Bowling Green, has already set a single-season school record with 26 touchdown passes, but won’t be able to add to it as he will be sidelined due to a sore throwing arm. … As a team, Toledo has thrown 11 interceptions this season; FIU, conversely, is tied for fifth nationally with 17 picks. … Both teams are coming into the game playing fairly well, with the Panthers winning six of their last eight while the Rockets have won four of five. … All of Toledo’s wins in that span have been by at least 22 points for a squad that’s 11th nationally in scoring at 41.1 points per game. The Rockets have scored at least 45 points in all seven of their wins this season. … FIU is tied for 46th in the country as they give up an average of 24.7 ppg.
THE LINE: FIU, +5
THE PREDICTION: Toledo 51, FIU 38
WHO: Western Michigan (7-5) vs. BYU (6-6)
WHAT: The 22nd Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHERE: Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
WHEN: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The two teams have met in football five times previously, with the most recent coming way back in 1970. BYU leads the miniseries 3-2 for what it’s worth. … BYU is playing in its first bowl game since having its streak of 12 straight bowl appearances snapped amidst a 4-9 2017 season. … WMU has lost six of its seven bowl games. … BYU is 0-5 playing on Boise State’s famed — or infamous — blue turf, while WMU will be taking to the abnormally-colored field for the first time in the football program’s history. … This will mark the only postseason game this year in which each team is quarterbacked by a true freshman — BYU’s Zach Wilson and WMU’s Kaleb Eleby. … The Broncos stumbled down the stretch as they lost three in a row before beating Northern Illinois, which went on to win the MAC championship, by seven in the regular-season finale. NIU, incidentally, beat BYU 7-6 in late October. … In those three late-season losses for WMU, they gave up a whopping 152 points combined. … Given WMU’s defensive struggles of late, the fact that BYU averages just 25.2 points per game (110th at the FBS level out of 130 schools) could bode well for the Broncos. … One matchup that could go a long way in determining the outcome of the game is WMU’s rush offense vs. BYU’s rush defense. The Cougars are 24th stopping the run (129.4 yards per game) and tied for 33rd in yards per carry allowed at 3.7, while the Broncos are 35th in rushing yards per game (204.6) and tied for 41st in ypc at 4.7.
THE LINE: Western Michigan, +12
THE PREDICTION: BYU 23, Western Michigan 20