Reason to watch: This matchup might not seem like much on paper, but it's actually sexier than you think. For starters, the GoDaddy.com Bowl (previously known as the GMAC Bowl) will feature plenty of Danica Patrick commercials in between the action. If that's not enough, remember that last year's game served as the biggest surprise of the bowl season, showcasing Central Michigan's thrilling 44-41 victory over Troy in double overtime. This year, Miami-Middle Tennessee might be the most evenly matched MAC vs. Sun Belt game of the postseason. And with only four bowl games left after this one, you'd better get your college football fix before the annual eight-month lull.
Keep an eye on: Dual-threat quarterback Dwight Dasher, the Sun Belt's version of Michael Vick. Middle Tennessee's quarterback has gone through a nightmarish season on and off the field, but he remains one of the most electric players in all of college football when the ball is in his hands. Last year, Dasher became the third player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. Dasher showed flashes of the same brilliance in his last two games, racking up 520 total yards and five touchdowns in two MTSU victories. Miami is likely to stack the box against the speedy Dasher, so look for the quarterback to try and burn the RedHawks' defense with the play-action pass.
Did you know: Miami snagged an upset victory over No. 25 Northern Illinois in the MAC title game by holding NIU to just 21 points. Entering the game, the Huskies had averaged 65 points in their final three regular-season contests.
Final analysis: This one will likely be settled in the air between Miami's passing offense (33rd nationally) and Middle Tennessee's staunch pass defense (24th nationally). Senior running back Thomas Merriweather helps balance the RedHawks' offense, but Miami lives and dies with redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Boucher and the passing attack. Boucher started Miami's final three games and won all three while passing for 701 yards and three touchdowns. But Miami will have to neutralize Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Jamari Lattimore, who recorded 11.5 sacks in 2010, the sixth-most in the nation. Ultimately, the RedHawks are the Blue Raiders' toughest opponent of the year and should prevail under interim coach Lance Guidry.
The pick: Miami 20, Middle Tennessee 14
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SI.com NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline shares his thoughts on the top pro prospects in this matchup:
Miami: OL Brandon Brooks* -- The athletic Brooks has successfully held down the left tackle and guard spots for Miami. He's a good-sized blocker with enough footwork to play on the blind side at the next level. He also offers possibilities on the strong side as he physically matures. Grade: Third- to fourth-round prospect.
Middle Tennessee: CB Rod Issac -- The three-year starter has been one of the best cornerbacks in the Sun Belt conference since 2009. He possesses NFL size and has enough skill to secure a spot on a roster as an eighth defensive back/special teams player. Grade: Seventh-round prospect.
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