Riley’s Ramblings: 2017-2018 Football Bowl Season Starting With Good Matchups

By December 14, 2017Talent Columns

Tomorrow at 11:00 CT, the 2017-2018 Bowl Season will officially be upon us. It’s only been two weeks since Conference Championship week, it feels like college football has been away for too long. Even though there are drawbacks of having so many bowls (41 to be exact), it is nice to be able to enjoy the holiday season with college football. The early bowl games don’t get a lot of publicity, but there are some good games on tap for the coming week. Here is my take on four of the nine bowl games set to kick off in the next week: (Click here to view the 2017-2018 full bowl schedule)

 

The bowl season will kick off at Mercades-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday in the Celebration Bowl between Grambling and North Carolina A&T. Both of these teams had great years in their respective conferences, Grambling finished the year 11-1 and North Carolina A&T finished at 11-0. I honestly don’t know a ton about either school, but Grambling’s conference schedule (SWAC) is a little more impressive than North Carolina A&T’s (Mid-Eastern Atlantic) so I’m giving Grambling the edge even though North Carolina A&T is currently a 10 point favorite (11:00 kick on ABC).

 

Saturday’s New Orleans Bowl is featuring a pretty interesting matchup between Troy and North Texas. North Texas’ only losses are to pretty respectable teams, SMU, Iowa, Florida Atlantic, and Florida Atlantic again in the Conference USA Championship Game so they are probably better than their 9-4 record indicates. However I still think Troy wins the game big. The Sun Belt Champions have looked impressive most of the season, especially when they traveled to Baton Rouge and defeated LSU. The South Alabama game was a loss that shouldn’t have happened for the Trojans, but they’ve looked very strong since then and are favored by seven points in this game because of it. (12:00 kick on ESPN 106.7).

 

Here’s a look at how Troy knocked off their rival Arkansas State a couple weeks ago in case you missed it:

 

Las Vagas has a pretty interesting bowl game coming to town on Saturday between Boise State and Oregon. Oregon became a brand name team in the early 2010’s but have really struggled after Marcus Mariota’s departure following the 2014 season. This season has gone a lot better for the Ducks than last year when they went 4-8 and fired Head Coach Mark Helfrich, but they still didn’t have a really impressive win and their first year head coach Willie Tagart just left for the Florida State job. Not having your coach for the bowl game is tough, and Boise State had a pretty impressive year that ended in them winning the Mountain West. The Broncos are also led by their star wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. Wilson currently has 73 receptions for 1290 yards, which is good enough for sixth in college football in receiving yards. He’s without a doubt going to be a tough man for the Ducks secondary to stop and will be a reliable target for Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien. I’m taking Boise State in a close game, but the odds have Oregon as a 7.5 point favorite. (2:30 kick on ABC).

 

Very unfortunate that Florida Atlantic doesn’t get to leave their own stadium for a bowl after the awesome year that they had, but at least they’ll have home field advantage in Tuesday’s Boca Raton Bowl against Akron. Former Auburn Head Coach Terry Bowden is bringing the Zips into Boca Raton to take on a red hot Florida Atlantic. FAU finished the season 10-3 and won the Conference USA Championship. First year Head Coach Lane Kiffin did a great job of turning this team around from their 3-9 season in 2016.

 

FAU quarterback Jason Driskel, brother of former Florida quarterback Jake Driskel, had a phenomenal season thowing for nearly 2000 yards for 13 touchdowns. Kiffin’s star this season is undoubtedly Sophomore running back Devin Singletary. Singletary currently has over 1700 yards and has a nation’s best 30 touchdowns. You read that right, 30 touchdowns. Singletary holds the nationwide lead by six scores over San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. Akron had a pretty good year as well, especially in conference. They went 6-1 in conference play during the season before losing to Toledo in the MAC Championship. Akron had a fairly impressive year, but I have been extremely impressed with Lane Kiffin’s group this season so I’m picking the whopping 22.5 point favorite Florida Atlantic Owls.

 

Also don’t forget to keep an eye out for former Auburn quarterback John Franklin III, who is now a grad transfer at FAU. You probably saw a highlight of him during the Conference USA Championship Game…

 

Riley Hubbard

ESPN 106.7

rhubbard@aunetwork.com