WE are going on the sixth year of the Bahamas Bowl.
For those that only pay attention to the New Year’s Six, the Bahamas Bowl has been held in Nassau, Bahamas towards the end of December each year since its inception in 2014.
The first game was an exciting shootout between Western Kentucky and Central Michigan when WKU won 49-48. The last time around Florida International edged out Toledo 35-32 in another close game.
Originally sponsored by Popeye’s Chicken, it was the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl, but now the branding has been revamped and thus we have the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl on December 20 and as soon as we know the matchup, sportsbooks will have odds.
So who will play?
It’s always the MAC vs. CUSA (Mid-American Conference and Conference-USA).
No team has appeared more than once but this season’s competitors have yet to be announced. This makes it difficult to assess who will be headed to Nassau.
LA Tech is standing on top of the C-USA right now at 7-1 and they have never been to the Bahamas Bowl. That said, they might end up with a bigger bowl.
For example, FIU was the 3rd place team in the C-USA East last year. So, I doubt it will be LA Tech, especially if they win the conference.
More likely would be Southern Miss coming out of the Conference USA. They are likely to be second place in the C-USA West and have also never attended the Bahamas Bowl, making them a prime candidate.
Florida Atlantic could be another to go. They are currently 6-3 and in first place in the C-USA East. But they Marshall right on their tail.
Furthermore, if they do play for the conference title, I think they lose to LA Tech and miss out on a bigger bowl opportunity - they could get the New Mexico Bowl.
The MAC schools I think have the best shot of making the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl are Buffalo, Miami (OH), and perhaps Ball State. If Ball State gets it, I think it’s probably by default. This would be if Miami (OH) gets selected for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and accepted or if Buffalo took the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl instead.
Possible Matchups - Southern Miss vs Buffalo
Southern Miss is averaging 29.13 points per game as we head into the November 9 games. They have a killer passing attack, dropping 315.13 yards on opposing defences. They can run the ball a bit, putting up 118 per game, but it’s the pass where they are strongest - No. 10 in the NCAA.
Defensively, they are stout against the run, allowing just 111.5 yards per game, good enough for the No. 21 run defence. The secondary is middling at best, ranked No. 104 in pass D, allowing 255.25 yards.
Buffalo is scoring 28.11 points per game and are in many ways polar opposites to Southern Miss. The Bulls smash the ball into the gut of their opponents for 224.44 yards per game, making them No. 18 in rushing yards gained.
But in passing the ball, they are weak, ranked No. 121 at just 142.3 yards per game. They have a fantastic run defence that allows just 85 yards per game (No. 6) and decent pass defence as well that allows just 208.8.
Southern Miss doesn’t run the ball that well anyhow, so I think this match-up favours the Golden Eagles and their insane pass attack. That said, this would be a great game, with S Miss scoring with big chunk yardage and the Bulls controlling the clock with their dominant run game.
Florida Atlantic vs Miami (OH)
The Redhawks have only been scoring 22.43 per game. And defensively, they have allowed 35.43 per game on average through the season. Granted, this is because their wins have been close and their losses have been big.
In essence, they are quite average. Not bad, but not good either. They put up around 171 passing yards per game and just over 100 rushing yards.
The Owls, on the other hand, put up 32.88 points per game and pass the ball quite well (281.38 yards per game. Defensively they are OK, allowing 26.25 per affair, with 246 yards per game allowed through the air and 151 on the ground. They would let Miami get more yards than they typically do, which would make this a fun game to watch. Still, they have a clear advantage over the Redhawks because of their offence power and would be my pick to win the game.