Holiday Bowling Dec. 23

December 18, 2016

The last multiple game day for the Bowl Season, prior to Christmas is Friday the 23rd. Here are your 3 games for that day.

BAHAMAS BOWL; 1PM ET; ESPN; EASTERN MICHIGAN (7-5) Vs. OLD DOMINION (9-3): A feel good game for most pitting EMU  which has emerged from punching bag status to win seven games for the first time since the late 1980s and has been to only one bowl in its history against D1A newcomer Old Dominion which goes to its first-ever FBS bowl after moving up from D1AA in 2014. However, Old Dominion was a winning program on almost a yearly basis at the D1AA level. ODU head coach Bobby Wilder took 42 returning lettermen and lost only to a couple of heavyweights like NC State and Western Kentucky. I’m a big MAC fan, but I truly believe the Monarchs will win to hit the double-digit W mark. And while there are likely some pro scouts that petitioned their team to assign them to this game – hey who wouldn’t want to spend the holidays in the Bahamas – they likely would not miss much if they never left the beach as there just aren’t many pro prospects in this game, although ODU WR Zach Pascal, a productive possession receiver, could get some late-round interest. Players to watch

EASTERN MICHIGAN                                                       OLD DOMINION
#5 CODY TUTTLE/TE 6’4/250                                               #6 ZACH PASCAL/WR 6’2/214
#43 ANTHONY ZAPPONE/LB 6’2/226                               #27 AARON YOUNG/CB 5’11/185
#47 T.J. RICKS/LB 6’0/226                                                   #52 PAT O’CONNOR/DE 6’4/267
#57 RASHARD COWARD/DT 6’6/307                                #72 ANDREW WYLIE/OT 6’6/311

ARMED FORCES BOWL; 4:30 PM ET; ESPN; NAVY (9-4) Vs. LOUISIANA TECH (8-5): A highly ranked Navy squad was very much in the running to earn the non-power 5 slot in the Cotton Bowl, but the Middies were hit hard with injuries at the QB slot that tore them apart down the stretch that included losses in the American conference championship game and to Army for the first time in almost forever? At least the Midshipmen will play a bowl in the Dallas area just not what they were hoping for less than a month ago. Part of me says that in true military tradition, they rally the troops and rebound, but with a 4th string QB it will be tough, especially against a very good Louisiana Tech team that SKIP HOLTZ has put together. Indeed, given that the Bulldogs had only 9 returning starters this season, and a schedule that included 7 road games those 8 wins are pretty solid. I would expect TECH to win this game, but you know the Midshipmen will not mail it in. Keep an eye on Tech WR TRENT TAYLOR, a very talented possession receiver who has already set the CUSA single-season record with 124 catches this fall. Taylor pairs with junior WR CARLOS HENDERSON, the Bulldogs’ big-play threat who averaged 19.5 yards on 72 receptions this fall when he also scored 17 times. Henderson, one of the country’s top KO returners, also averaged over 30 yards per return this fall which included 2 for TDs. Meanwhile, if Bill Belichek and the Patriots want to take a Navy player in the 2017 draft, they’ll get a shot at a good one in WR Jamir Tillman, who kind of got lost in the Middies run oriented offense, but has the size and athleticism that NFL teams are always looking for.

NAVY                                                                                         LOUISIANA TECH
#1 BRENDON CLEMENTS/CB 5’11/188                                 #5 TRENT TAYLOR/WR 5’8/175
#4 JAMIR TILLMAN/WR 6’4/212                                           #7 XAVIER WOODS/S 5’11/190
#31 SHAWN WHITE/FB 6’1/255                                             #12 RYAN HIGGINS/QB/6-1/200
#58 DANIEL GONZALES/LB 6’2/240                                   #75 DARRELL BROWN/OT 6’4/300
#31 SHAWN WHITE/FB/6-0/255                                            #1 CARLOS HENDERSON/WR/5’11/195/JR

DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL; 7 PM ET; ESPN; TROY (9-3) vs. OHIO (8-5): The nightcap in Friday’s tripleheader promises to be a wide-open affair between to teams that can move the ball. Next year was supposed to be the breakout year for Troy under head coach NEAL BROWN, but the Trojans showed flashes all year despite losing 24 lettermen from 2015. The more experienced, consistent team in OHIO may win the day under the steady, veteran hand of head coach FRANK SOLICH, who just keeps rolling into his 70’s. Bobcats’ edge rushing DE TARELL BASHAM may be the best pro-prospect on the field as he will be returning to Mobile for the Senior Bowl in January; this fall Basham had 11.5 sacks. Indeed, there could be a pretty good one-on-one matchup between Basham and Troy OT Antonio Garcia, the Trojans top prospect..

TROY                                                                                           OHIO
#20 TERRIS LEWIS/LB 6’2/240                                               #6 SEBASTIAN SMITH/WR 6’3/206
#23 WILLIAM LLOYD/LB 6’2/214                                           #12 JORDAN REID/WR 6’3/207
#53 ANTONIO GARCIA/OT 6’7/302                                       #24 TORAN DAVIS/SS 6’0/212
#77 XAVIER FIELDS/OG 6’5/329                                            #93 TARELL BASHAM/DE 6’4/263