SPORTING ALERT – A pair of college football bowl games are on the schedule for Christmas Eve, with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl up for grab. Watch Live on WatchESPN on Thursday.
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Middle Tennessee and Western Michigan will look to close out their respective college football season on a high when the two meet at Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.
Middle Tennessee (7-5) seeks its fifth successive win when it plays in its seventh bowl game in 10 years under Head Coach Rick Stockstill.
The Blue Raiders will be led by quarterback Brent Stockstill, who is having a very fruitful first season, after setting the Conference USA passing record for a college rookie with 3,678 yards.
Stockstill enters this game on good form as well — throwing nine touchdown passes in the current four-game winning streak for 1,233 yards, including passing for more than 300-yards in three of the four outings.
Freshman wide receiver Richie James has also made a huge impact on offense for Middle Tennessee. The USA Today Freshman All-American has tallied 1,220 receiving yards, one of 14 players to reach the 1,200-yard mark this season, while taking 100 catches.
“He’s an extremely hard worker and has shown that since he’s been in our program,” coach Rick Stockstill said of James.
“He’s had a lot of good people around him to help him achieve what he has. It’s a great honor to him but he’ll be the first one to tell you he didn’t do it by himself.”
Coach Rick also had a few words to say about coaching his son Brent.
“He is a pleasure to coach and is an outstanding young man. If you came to our practices or come to our game, you would not know that he was my son if you didn’t already know it,” the coach said.
“I’m probably harder on him than anyone on the team.”
Western Michigan, meanwhile, will be led by wideouts Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis, who have been doing most of the damage for the Broncos on offense.
The two receivers have combined for 23 of Western Michigan’s 28 receiving touchdowns this season, with both also each going over 1,200 receiving yards for the term.
Quarterback Zach Terrell has passed for 3,225 yards, which ranked third in the Mid-American Conference, with 27 touchdowns for the Broncos.
Runaway Mountain West champion San Diego State will take on Cincinnati in the Hawai’i Bowl at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, with both programs hoping to be celebrating on Christmas Day with a bowl trophy.
Recent form would suggest that the Aztecs (10-3) who went 8-0 in conference play and haven’t dropped a game since losing three straight early in the season in September — would start favorites and oddsmakers are backing them for a 3-point win.
San Diego State is also looking for its 10th successive victory on Thursday night and its solid defense, which is ranked 10th in the nation for points allowed, at 17.2 points allowed per game — is expected to play a big part in this hunt.
Their current win streak is the third-longest active winning streak in the country behind the undefeated and No. 1 Clemson (16) and Alabama (10).
Meanwhile, Cincinnati (7-5), which never quite lived up to its preseason hype, but is preparing to make its 17th bowl appearance, and school record fifth in-a-row and ninth in the past 10 seasons.
The Bearcats are 1-1 all-time in Honolulu and hold an 8-8 record in bowl games.
Cincinnati is ranked fourth in the nation in passing yards with 373.1 per game, with junior quarterback Gunner Kiel, who has thrown for 2,777 yards, leading the line.
College Football Bowl Games
Live TV Channels
Thursday, Dec. 24
Middle Tenn. St. vs Western Michigan, Noon, ESPN, WatchESPN
San Diego St. vs Cincinnati, 8 p.m., ESPN, WatchESPN