college bowl season off strong start friday games

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Bowl season in college football is in full swing with six games set for Saturday after two were played on Friday. The games were thrilling on Friday and there are plenty of excellent storylines to watch out for ahead of Saturday’s slate.

The postseason began with the HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl where Miami (OH) (6-7) faced UAB (7-6). The Blazers won 24-20 after linebacker Reynard Ellis tackled wide receiver Jalen Walker two yards short of the endzone. 

The Duluth Trading Cure Bowl was the first game between ranked teams of the bowl season, and will be the only one until Dec. 29. The game featured two great stories in Sun Belt champion Troy (12-2) and Conference-USA (C-USA) champion UTSA (11-3). The Trojans won a defensive struggle 18-12 in  a game they had 153 total yards. 

Linebacker KJ Robertson altered the game when he intercepted a pass as UTSA was driving for touchdown and returned it 62 yards. Troy took the lead on the next possession and never looked back.

Saturday’s schedule begins with the juiciest storyline. Louisville (7-5) takes on Cincinnati (9-3) in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl. Intrigue is added due to the Scott Satterfield subplot. He coached Louisville this season before accepting the head coaching position at Cincinnati.

Per Sports Illustrated, instead of coaching either team, he’ll loom over the proceedings, likely scouting to see which players he wants to take with him from Louisville and which ones he wants to discard at his new home.

Florida (6-6) takes on No. 14 Oregon State (9-3) in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl. The Gators were up-and-down in Billy Napier’s first year as head coach but can record wins against two of the top teams in the Pac-12 with a win against the Beavers. The team began the season with a home win against Pac-12 champion Utah.

Washington State (7-5) was seventh in the Pac-12 and will face Mountain West (MW) champion Fresno State (9-4) in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. The game will reveal how the Bulldogs stack up against a Power Five opponent, which could be crucial in its evaluation as a potential future Pac-12 team as conference realignment continues over the years. 

Per the Fresno Bee, school officials began preliminary talks with a possible move to the Pac-12 after news broke that USC and UCLA were planning on departing the conference. (h/t The Collegian)

Other games include the Frisco Bowl presented by SERVPRO between C-USA and MW championship game runner-ups North Texas (7-6) and Boise State (9-4), and SMU (7-5) versus BYU (7-5) in the New Mexico Bowl.

There’s an argument that there are too many bowl games; the fact there weren’t enough teams with six wins to fill out the bowls would appear to lead credence to that notion. That’s why Rice (5-7) will play in the LendingTree Bowl against Southern Miss (6-6). The Owls received an invite as the program with the highest Academic Progress Rating among 5-7 teams. (h/t At The Roost)

The opportunities that bowl games provide players is enough to justify their existence. With a win on Saturday, Rice can remind us why there can never be too much of a good thing.

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