It’s the first full week of the college football bowl season starting Tuesday as Florida Atlantic gets a home game in the Boca Raton Bowl against Akron. There are two things notable about that game: FAU is the biggest favorite in any bowl at -22.5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, and it’s a big-name coaching matchup between Akron’s Terry Bowden and FAU’s Lane Kiffin.
Bowden was a very successful coach from 1993-97 at Auburn, while Kiffin has been a head coach with the Oakland Raiders, University of Tennessee and USC. Many believed Kiffin would get a Power 5 job following the 2017 regular season. Florida Atlantic was 3-9 last year but 10-3 this season and Conference USA champion. The Owls are ninth nationally in scoring at 39.8 ppg and have the nation’s leading scorer in running back Devin Singletary, who totaled 30 touchdowns. It’s the first-ever meeting between Akron and FAU.
Another big-name coach who did a terrific job in his first season at a south Florida school was former University of Miami, North Carolina and Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis at Florida International. The Golden Panthers improved from 4-8 last year to 8-4 in Davis’ first season, tying a school record for victories. However, they are 7-point underdogs against Temple in Thursday’s Gasparilla Bowl from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, home of MLB’s Rays.
The Owls, under first-year coach Geoff Collins (an FIU defensive coordinator in 2010), only got bowl-eligible with a 43-22 win at Tulsa to close the regular season. FIU and Temple faced two common opponents this season. Both beat UMass and lost to unbeaten Central Florida.
The most evenly-matched bowl game of the week, at least according to an opening pick’em spread, is Central Michigan against Wyoming in Friday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl from Boise. The big question there is whether Cowboys star quarterback Josh Allen, expected to be a first-round NFL Draft pick next spring, maybe Top 10, will play. He missed the final two games of the regular season with a shoulder injury, both Wyoming losses, but has been practicing. Allen says he’s playing, and that’s likely why the spread is now Cowboys -3.
The highest-scoring bowl game of the entire postseason could be Saturday’s Birmingham Bowl between Texas Tech and South Florida, which is a 2.5-point favorite. Behind dual-threat QB Quinton Flowers, who has nearly 3,600 yards of offense and 31 TDs, the Bulls average 37.8 points per game. Texas Tech, as usual one of the nation’s top passing teams, puts up 34.3 points per game.
And Saturday’s Armed Forces Bowl between San Diego State and Army in Fort Worth should be run-heavy. The Aztecs, who are 6.5-point favorites, have the nation’s leading rusher in Rashaad Penny. He had 2,027 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground and is a first-team All-American. Army would rather not throw the ball at all if possible. The Black Knights lead the nation in rushing (355.8 ypg) and are last in passing (29.6 ypg).
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