By: Jake Rosen
Bowl Season starts December 17th, and with a plethora of talented teams set to face off against one other, there is bound to be plenty of great games throughout the upcoming weeks. I’ll highlight every game, offering a preview and my prediction for each Bowl.
Betting lines are from Caesar Sportsbook as of December 15.
Friday, December 17th.
Middle Tennessee (+10.5) vs. Toledo (-400)
12 pm | ESPN
Middle Tennessee (6-6):
After starting the season off at 2-4, MTSU bounced back with big wins against UConn, Southern Miss, and FIU, outscoring these opponents 129-33. Their offense has been rather inconsistent over the course of the season due to their lack of star talent, so the defense must step up if MTSU wants to come away with a win. However, this may be a tough ask as they have let up 30+ points four times, but not out of the picture as they have held opponents to under 20 points five times this season.
Toledo started the season off 3-4, most notably playing a Top 10 Notre Dame team very close, only losing 32-29; 3 out of 4 of their losses were also very close, being within 3 points. Toledo finished the season off strong winning 4 of their last 5 games. Led by their strong passing attack, and star RB, Bryant Koback, Toledo scored 34+ points in every one of their last 5 games. Along with their offense, Toledo has a strong defense allowing just 21.8 points per game.
Toledo is a team that plays well above their record, playing many close games against good teams. Many of MTSU’s wins came against lesser opponents, and they’ve been very inconsistent over the course of the season. Toledo is clearly the better team, and the betting lines support that. That being said, anything can happen in a high-stakes game such as a Bowl Game.
Northern Illinois (+10.5) vs. Coastal Carolina (-400)
6 pm | ESPN 2
Northern Illinois (9-4):
NIU is coming off of a historic regular season. After going winless in the Covid-Shortened 2020 season, the MAC champions bounced back with a 9 win season to this point. The Offense is led by their strong rushing attack with 4 different RBs having over 400 yards, including Jay Ducker with over 1000 yards. However, their passing attack is nothing to sleep on, while over the course of the season QB Rocky Lombardi, hasn’t been particularly special, the former Michigan St. QB has thrown for 250+ yards 4 times, including 348 and 532 yard games throwing for 3 TDs and 0 INTs in each of those matchups. The big question about this team is the defense. NIU has allowed 50+ points 3 times, and 38+ another 2 times.
Coastal Carolina (10-2):
The former Top 25 had a dominating start to the season, going 6-0 and outsourcing opponents by a dominating 293-90. Their only 2 losses were very close games to a talented Appalachian State team and a competitive Georgia State team (star QB Grayson McCall was out for the game). Their unique offense, strong running game, and talent at every skill position make Coastal Carolina a tough team to beat. The offense is led by Grayson McCall, who is one of the better QBs in College football, as well as WR Jaivon Heiligh and TE Isaiah Likely also being among the best in the country at their position, and both will likely hear their name called at the NFL Draft this April. Along with their offense, Coastal Carolina has a good and talented defense. Talented Freshman, Josaiah Stewart, should be an X-Factor with his 12.5 Sacks in the regular season. The defense also let up 30+ points just twice, which happened to be both of their losses.
This is a matchup versus two talented Group of 5 teams, who both have made history the last few seasons. While I am a fan of both of these teams, Coastal Carolina is the better, more balanced team. I have a hard time seeing NIU’s defense being able to stop this very talented Coastal Carolina offense.