12/26/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
The holidays and sports go hand in hand, and college football is no exception. The day after Christmas features 3 more bowl games, let's take a look at the matchups, even if you're still swimming in all your new toys or gifts and gadgets. There's always time for football, right?
Heart Of Dallas Bowl
Illinois vs Louisiana Tech 12/26 @1pm
Illinois finished 5th in the Big 10's West Division, and were the last team from the conference to secure a bowl birth. The Illini won their last 2 regular season games, which got them into the post season. 8 and 5 Louisiana Tech lost by a field goal to Marshall in the Conference USA championship game after winning 6 of their final 7 regular season games. The Bulldogs rank 13th in the nation in points scored per game (37.5), while Illinois ranks 109th in the country in points given up per game (33.9). Louisiana Tech is led by QB Cody Sokol, who passed for 3,189 yards and 29 TD's. The Bulldogs ground game is led by Kenneth Dixon, who rushed for 1,236 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. WR Mike Dudek has been the Illini's most consistent offensive threat, catching 69 passes for 965 yards and scoring 6 touchdowns. The Bulldogs will be without 5 starters who were declared academically ineligible prior to the Conference USA title game. Louisiana Tech lost in their last bowl appearance back in the 2011 Poinsettia Bowl. Illinois has won their past two bowl games in 2010 and 2011, and were 6 and 6 going into both of those games. These schools last met in 2012, with Louisiana Tech winning 52 to 24.
Quick Lane Bowl
Rutgers vs North Carolina 12/26 @4:30pm
A shootout could be in the makings in Detroit in this game, as both of these teams surrender a lot of points. Rutgers gives up an average of 30.9 points per game, while UNC gives up an average of 38.9 points per game. The Scarlet Knights finished 7 and 5 overall in their first season in the Big Ten, which placed them 4th in the East Division. The Tar Heels finished 6 and 6, good for 3rd in the ACC's Coastal Division. Rutgers is led offensively by the tandem of QB Gary Nova and WR Leonte Carroo. Nova passed for 2,667 yards and threw 20 touchdown passes, while Carroo had 53 catches for 1,043 yards and 10 TD's. Marquise Williams is the focal point of North Carolina's offense. Williams passed for 2,870 yards and 20 TD's, and also led the Tar Heels in rushing with 737 yards and 12 rushing scores. This is the first meeting between these teams since 2011, which North Carolina won 24 to 22.
St. Petersburg Bowl
North Carolina State vs Central Florida 12/26 @8pm
NC State comes in as the 5th place team out of the ACC's Atlantic Division with an overall record of 7 and 5. UCF at 9 and 3 won a share of the American Athletic Conference title. Both of these teams finished the 2014 regular season strong, The Knights have won 4 in a row and after starting the season 0 and 2, won 9 of their final 10 games. The Wolf Pack won their final 2 regular season games and 3 of their last 4. Both of these teams are led offensively by their quarterback. NC State's Jacoby Brissett passed for 2,344 yards and 22 touchdowns, while UCF's Justin Holman passed 2,661 yards and 20 TD's. Brissett also rushed 498 yards and scored 3 times on ground. NC State may have to rely on Brissett's arm more than his legs, as UCF ranked 5th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game and 8th in points against per game. These teams last met in 2010, with NC State winning 28 to 21.
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