Western Kentucky (10-3, 8-1 Conference USA) vs. Memphis (8-4, 5-3 American Athletic), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Line: Western Kentucky by 6 +
Series Record: First meeting
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Last year it was Memphis playing in a bowl game with an interim head coach (Darrell Dickey) after losing Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech, and with current head coach Mike Norvell waiting in the wings. This time around it's Western Kentucky trying to navigate those waters following the resignation earlier this month of coach Jeff Brohm and the hiring of Mike Sanford to replace him. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who lobbied hard for the job, is hoping his Hilltoppers avoid the result the Tigers wound up with last December (a 31-10 loss to Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl) and ride the strong arm of senior quarterback Mike White to victory.
Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor vs. Memphis CBs Chauncey Lanier and Arthur Maulet. Taylor is White's favorite target and racked up 1,586 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns during the season. So Maulet (two interceptions) and Lanier (one interception) will have their hands full trying to contain him. Lanier hails from nearby Davie and would like nothing better than to perform well in front of his friends and family.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Memphis: WR Anthony Miller heated up in the second half of the season to the tune of 845 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, so look for junior QB Riley Ferguson to target him early and often.
Western Kentucky: QB White played his high school football about 30 minutes south of Boca Raton at Nova Southeastern in Davie. He began his college career at the University of South Florida before transferring to Western Kentucky last year. After sitting out the 2015 season, White took charge of the Hilltoppers' offense and completed 260 of 386 passes for 4,027 yards, 34 touchdowns and six interceptions.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Tigers are bowling again for the third straight year and ninth time overall in Norvell's first season. Norvell is the third coach in school history with a winning record in his first year. . For Western Kentucky, this trip to South Florida is a reward for its second consecutive 10-win season and second consecutive league title. Last year the Hilltoppers knocked off USF 45-35 in the Miami Beach Bowl. . FAU Stadium is once again the site for the Boca Raton Bowl, which made its debut in 2014 when Marshall took care of Northern Illinois, 52-23.
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