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Conference USA 2018 Bowl Schedule and Thoughts

All games on ESPN. All times CST. Includes opening lines.

The 2018 bowl season is upon us as Conference USA sends 6 teams to uphold the conference’s honor. Bowl season is over in a flash, however, kicking off (literally) with the New Orleans bowl on December 15, and ending with the Hawai’i bowl on December 22.

North Texas (9-3) vs -11 Utah State (10-2)

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque

1PM – Saturday, December 15

Adam: The NM Bowl does not get a huge draw, but it has sold 26K+ the last few years. Marshall travelled from the east coast and were happy to do it. North Texas fans — as all CUSA squads seem to do — did a little grumbling about the distance, location, and time. So it goes. This is one of the better bowl matchups across the nation, and we get to see if Seth Littrell — newly committed — shook off the distraction of K-State calling him up. Pick: North Texas

Aldo: I think it was Hemingway that said “you can’t please all of the college football fans all of the time.” This is a very tough match-up for whoever will be coaching the Mean Green as they face one of the best scoring offenses in the country. Fans in the stands for either team may be hard to come by in Albuquerque. These two teams should put on a show on offense, occasionally tempered by good to great defenses. North Texas will have their hands full in this one, but I think they have the ability to keep it closer than the line indicates. Pick: Utah State

Middle Tennessee (8-5) vs -7.5 Appalachian State (10-2)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans

8PM – Saturday, December 15

Adam: I do not know how good MTSU is from week to week. Sure, the win over UAB to clinch a home title game was huge, but it was also compromised by the litany of injuries along the Birmingham front line. Middle is still willed to victory by Brent Stockstill, but we saw what happens when a good team can neutralize that threat. App State is a very good team but one with an outgoing head coach. Pick: MTSU

Aldo: After losing to UAB in the conference championship, Middle Tennessee looks to continue a strong end to their season. Much like North Texas, this is a tough matchup – and honestly, I don’t like the matchup. App State will roll into New Orleans with a great run game, and a very stout defense. Brent Stockstill will need his last game to count to break through App State’s pass defense. Pick: Appalachian State

-2.5 UAB (10-3) vs Northern Illinois (8-5)

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, Boca Raton

6PM – Tuesday, December 18

Adam: UAB is on a high from winning and Bill Clark is still not done with his revenge tour. This will be a win for the Blazers as they do a lap. Pick: UAB

Aldo: This should be a decently fun one if you like defensive battles and low-scoring games. UAB fumbled the close of the regular season, but battled their way back in a rematch to beat Middle Tennessee in the conference championship. They will go up against a decent team in Northern Illinois, but I think there’s a possibility that UAB takes over this game. Pick: UAB

-3 Marshall (8-4) vs South Florida (7-5)

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa Bay

7PM – Thursday, December 20

Adam: How good is Marshall’s defense? Very. How good is Marshall’s offense? Not very. I can see anything happening here, but mostly a USF win. Pick: USF

Aldo: Charlie Strong’s South Florida team is going to have to deal with a huge Marshall backfield. Marshall has had some struggles finding an identity on offense and defense throughout the season, but South Florida has been in a skid. South Florida does give up points and yardage too, so I think Marshall’s offense will get in rhythm and their defense will keep the game more than comfortable. Pick: Marshall

Florida International (8-4) vs -6 Toledo (7-5)

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, Nassau

11:30AM – Friday, December 21

Adam: FIU should have been in the conference title game in Birmingham, not sitting at home watching the game broadcast live from Murfreesboro. James Morgan is very good, and he is better when he has a run game. The Panthers blew a chance by losing to a solid Marshall. This is a chance to test themselves. Pick: FIU

Aldo: I’m not entirely certain how to gauge Toledo. They have a fantastic run game in their spread offense, but they have been inconsistent as a whole. While FIU has had bouts of that as well, their passing game has been much improved since the arrival of Butch Davis (and that offensive line, man). What I will be looking for is how well FIU is able to defend against the run, and how FIU will attack Toledo through the air. Many points are expected in this one, but I’m not sure which teams will show. Pick: FIU

Louisiana Tech (7-5) vs -1.5 Hawai’i (8-5)

SoFI Hawai’i Bowl, Honolulu

9:30PM – Saturday, December 22

Adam: Louisiana Tech is good if they can unlock something beyond J’Mar Smith throwing hopeful passes to Adrian Hardy so he can make a miracle catch. In between those highlights there has been a lot of poor offense. Conversely, Jaylon Ferguson has dominated everyone and that should be enough to corral Cole McDonald. The problem, of course, is that Hawai’i has a home game. Pick: Hawai’i

Aldo: Is the opening line a typo? It has even moved to -1. While the combo of Cole McDonald and John Ursua started off hot the first half of their season, their connection has cooled off considerably. It is likely that teams have keyed in on the two, and slowed down the Hawai’i pass atack. If Louisiana Tech’s formidable pass defense is able to cover John Ursua, and Jaylon Ferguson can keep the pressure on Cole McDonald, it could be done. If the Louisiana Tech defense holds, this game could go down to the wire. Pick: Hawai’i

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