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NCAA Bowl Previews 2015: Miami Beach Bowl

Day 1 of Bowl Season did not disappoint. Though Day 2 only has one game, let’s hope it can match the quality of the first six. No pressur


Day 1 of Bowl Season did not disappoint. Though Day 2 only has one game, let’s hope it can match the quality of the first six. No pressure Western Kentucky and USF. The (25) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers won the Conference-USA and had an 8-0 record in the conference. In their 3 games against the Power 5 schools, they won one – in the season opener vs. Vanderbilt – and lost the other two, but they weren’t pushovers in this game, and it isn’t hard to see why. They rank 10th in the FBS in yards per game (YPG), averaging 520 YPG. Their success on offense is built around their passing game. They average 365 passing yards per game (PYG), making them the 6th most productive air attack in the FBS. Of course, yards are useless if they don’t lead to points, well that isn’t a problem with the Hilltoppers, they average 44.2 points per game (PPG), 4th best in the FBS. Their defense, though, isn’t quite as productive. They’re 60th in total defense (390 YPG), 50th in run defense (156 RYG) and 54th in scoring (25.2 PPG). The Hilltoppers offensive production is owed to their redshirt senior QB, Brandon Doughty. Doughty is CBS Sports 7th QB in this year’s draft class and you can see why. In WKU’s spread system he has been able to put up very good numbers. This year he leads the FBS in completion percentage (71.8) and in touchdowns (45), adding 4594 yards but just 7 interceptions. He shows an ability to make his reads very quickly and then deliver accurate, catchable passes. He has the skills to be a reliable backup and maybe develop into more. Tyler Higbee, their senior tight end, is also one to watch. He is one of Doughty’s top targets when he is healthy and he has the traits you want in a receiving tight end: he has soft hands and he’s a fluid athlete, allowing him to excel after the catch. Wide Receivers Jared Dangerfield and Antwane Grant and first-team All-Conference USA linebacker Nick Holt are players to keep an eye on too. The USF Bulls have enjoyed a good season too. Having amassed just 6 wins in the last 2 seasons, the Bulls managed 8 this year and even received votes for the final AP Poll – 8 to be precise. Most of this success is thanks to their young core of plays, gathered form several strong recruiting classes. Though the Bulls offense has been no slouch, it isn’t quite on the level of the Hilltoppers, except for one category, rushing offense. The Bulls average 242.9 RYG which makes them the 11th best rushing offense in the FBS, and they average 33.5 PPG, which is 40th in the FBS. Their defense, though, has the upper hand on the Hilltoppers. The Bulls have the 37th total defense (361 YPG), the 61st pass defense (220.6 PYG) and they allow just 21.1 PPG (23rd). Unlike the Hilltoppers, the Bulls don’t have real standout prospects, but one guy to keep an eye on is Marlon Mack. He is just a sophomore but he is already quite the player. This year he has run for 1273 yards at 6.6 yards per carry and has added 8 rushing touchdowns. Next year he will be eligible to enter the draft, so he is a sleeper to keep your eye on. If you want to watch this game, or any of the other bowl games, the complete bowl schedule can be found here, where you’ll be able to see how and when you can watch every game.  

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Remy Cabache

Lifetime sports fan. I have written with RealSport since the NFL section started and I have also written for my own blog, EbonyBird.com and I have had several articles published in local newspapers covering my local (American) football team.

NCAA Bowl Previews 2015: Miami Beach Bowl

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