College football bowl preview capsules

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MILITARY BOWL

BOWLING GREEN (8-4) VS. SAN JOSE STATE (10-2)

LINE: San Jose State by 7

SERIES RECORD: First meeting

WHAT’S AT STAKE: A successful bowl comeback. Bowling Green hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2009, San Jose State since 2006. To see how far these schools have come in a short time, look at 2010 — when Bowling Green went 2-10 and San Jose State was 1-12. San Jose State’s quick turnaround cost the school its coach: Mike MacIntyre left for Colorado, leaving defensive coordinator Kent Baer to lead the Spartans against the Falcons. Ron Caragher, hired from San Diego to replace MacIntyre, will attend the game as an observer.

KEY MATCHUP: San Jose State’s high-scoring offense vs. Bowling Green’s stingy defense. The Spartans averaged 35.3 points (26th among FBS schools), while the Falcons allowed only 15.8 (9th).

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bowling Green–DT Chris Jones, Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year, has 12½ sacks and 19 tackles for loss. San Jose State–QB David Fales leads the nation in completion percentage (72.1) and ranks fourth with a 170.9 passer rating. He has 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

BELK BOWL

CINCINNATI (9-3) VS. DUKE (6-6)

LINE: Cincinnati by 7

SERIES RECORD: First meeting

WHAT’S AT STAKE: This is Duke’s first bowl game in 18 seasons and the Blue Devils haven’t won one since 1961. Cincinnati is a bowl-tested team; this is the Bearcats’ sixth postseason appearance in the past seven years. Cincinnati defeated Vanderbilt last year in the Liberty Bowl.

KEY MATCHUP: Cincinnati RB George Winn vs. Duke’s porous run defense. Winn has emerged as a playmaker this season for the Bearcats, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs. Over the past four games, the Blue Devils have allowed 51 points and 294.5 yards rushing on average.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Duke– WR Conner Vernon, the ACC’s all-time leader in receptions and yards receiving, has 75 receptions for 955 yards and seven TDs. Cincinnati–QB Brendon Kay came in against Syracuse and led the Bearcats to a key victory over the Orange. Kay has thrown for 6 TDs.

HOLIDAY BOWL

Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4)

LINE: UCLA by 1

SERIES RECORD: First meeting

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Holiday Bowl bills itself as “America’s Most Exciting Bowl Game,” and these two teams can deliver. Baylor’s offense, led by quarterback Nick Florence, is first nationally with 578.8 yards per game and the Bears are fifth in scoring at 44.1 points. UCLA is led by running back Johnathan Franklin and quarterback Brett Hundley.

KEY MATCHUP: Baylor QB Nick Florence against UCLA’s defense. Florence leads the nation in total offense with 387.7 yards per game. UCLA’s defense has allowed at least 27 points in each of its past four games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Baylor–Senior All-American Terrance Williams is first in the nation in yards receiving at 147 per game.

UCLA–Senior running back Johnathan Franklin is the Bruins’ career leading rusher, and has 1,700 yards this season.


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