12/19/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Forty one bowl games are on the college football slate this year. The first five games kickoff Saturday, so let's take a look at what's on tap for the start of "Bowl Season".
New Mexico vs Arizona New Mexico Bowl Saturday at 2pm
Bowl season kicks off in Albuquerque as 6 and 6 Arizona meets 7 and 5 New Mexico. The Lobos are in a bowl game for the first time since 2007 while the Wildcats come in having lost 5 of their final 6 regular season games. Arizona averages 36.8 points per game and 494.3 yards per game. Their offense is led by quarterback Anu Solomon, who has passed for 2,338 yards and 18 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions. But Solomon, who suffered a concussion on November 14th and sat out the Wildcats regular season finale, remains questionable for this bowl game. New Mexico is led by QB Lamar Jordan, who has thrown for 935 yards this season while rushing for nearly 700 more. This game is being played at New Mexico's home stadium, where the Lobos were 5 and 2 during the regular season. Arizona is 2 and 4 on the road in 2015.
BYU vs #22 Utah Las Vegas Bowl Saturday at 3:30pm
This matchup of 9 and 3 teams also pits former conference and current in state rivals against each other. Statistically, these teams match up evenly. BYU averages 34.2 points per game while Utah averages 30.4, and both teams give up an average of 21.8 points per game. BYU averages 428 yards per game while Utah averages 376.8. The Cougars give up an average of 358.1 yards per game, while the Utes give up an average of 365.2. These schools have met 95 times, with Utah winning 57 times, BYU winning 34, and there being 4 ties as well. But this will be the first time these schools have ever met in a bowl game. This will be the 10th meeting in the past 11 years between these schools, with Utah having won the past 4 games and 6 of the last 9. This will also be the final game for Bronco Mendenhall as BYU's head coach as Mendenhall will be taking over as head coach at Virginia as head coach next season.
Appalachian State vs Ohio Camellia Bowl Saturday at 5:30pm
Appalachian State comes in at 10 and 2 as the 2nd place team out of the Sun Belt Conference. Ohio comes in from the MAC with a record of 8 and 4. Both teams come into this bowl game having won their final 3 regular season games . The Mountaineers feature a strong rushing attack led by RB Marcus Cox, who's rushed for 1,261 yards and scored 8 TD's. QB Taylor Lamb passed for 2,263 yards and 29 touchdowns, which were the most in the Sun Belt. The Bobcats are led offensively by QB Derrius Vick, who passed for 1,809 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running backs A.J. Ouellette and Daz'Mond Patterson combined for 1,139 yards and 14 TD's. This is the second year for Appalachian State playing on the FBS level. This is also the first ever meeting between these schools on the gridiron.
Georgia State vs San Jose State Cure Bowl Saturday at 7pm
This is a matchup of the Mountain West Conference's Spartans versus the Sun Belt Conference's Panthers. At 5 and 7, San Jose State is one of three teams in bowl games this year with sub .500 records. After starting 2015 at 2 and 6, Georgia State hauled off 4 straight wins to make their first bowl appearance in school history. The Panthers are led by quarterback Nick Arbuckle, who's passed for 4,160 yards and 26 touchdowns. WR Penny Hart has been his top target, catching 71 passes for 1,095 yards and 8 TD's. It will be an intriguing matchup, as the Spartans give up just under 154 yards passing per game, which is 2nd best in the nation. Offensively, San Jose State is led by Tyler Ervin, who rushed for 1,469 yards and scored 13 TD's. QB Kenny Potter has thrown for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns. San Jose State has won their past 3 bowl games.
Arkansas State vs Louisiana Tech New Orleans Bowl Saturday at 9pm
Arkansas State comes in as the Sun Belt Conference champions, posting a record of 9 and 3. Louisiana Tech is representing Conference USA, and comes in with a mark of 8 and 4. The Bulldogs are led by QB Jeff Driskel, who's passed for 3,575 yards and 24 touchdowns so far this season. Trent Taylor has been his go to guy, catching 89 passes for 1,133 yards and 8 TD's. Kenneth Dixon leads the Bulldogs ground attack, having rushed for 968 yards and 17 touchdowns. Dixon has 83 career scores, which is second most all time behind Navy's Keenan Reynolds. Arkansas State is led by QB Fredi Knighten, who's thrown for 1,698 yards and 19 touchdowns. RB Michael Gordon has rushed for 1,055 yards while scoring 9 TD's. The Red Wolves also boast a defense that led the NCAA with 34 forced turnovers. This is the first meeting between these schools since 1998, a game Louisiana Tech won 69 to 21. The Bulldogs lead the all time series between these former Southland and Big West Conference rivals, with a mark of 25 and 12.
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