Bowl season rolls on with a trio of games on Saturday, including the Birmingham Bowl between Texas Tech and South Florida. Here's what you need to know.

By The SI Staff
December 23, 2017

All month long in the Daily Bowl Digest, we’ll be setting the table for each day of bowl action, with game-by-game previews and a quick look back at the previous day’s action.

What happened yesterday: The Bahamas Bowl turned into a rout, with Ohio racing out to a 20–0 lead before cruising to a 41–6 final over UAB. Bobcats running back Dorian Brown had a huge day on the ground, rushing for four touchdowns across 152 yards. The Blazers were playing in a bowl game in their first season since being restored as a program, but couldn't get anything going offensively in the loss.

In the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, NFL draft prospect Josh Allen threw for 154 yards and three TDs to lead a 37–14 Wyoming win over Central Michigan. The Chippewas committed eight turnovers, a record for the bowl, and saw their five-game winning streak snapped. It was the Cowboys' first bowl game win since 2009.

Saturday brings a trio of bowl games starting at noon. Here’s a five-minute viewing guide to the day.

Birmingham Bowl (Texas Tech vs. South Florida, Noon ET, ESPN)

Why you should watch: If you’re looking for video-game scoring, the Birmingham Bowl is the game for you. Texas Tech has perennially fielded one of the nation’s worst defenses, and this year is no exception, with the Red Raiders ranking near the bottom of the NCAA in passing yards allowed. The last time we saw South Florida, quarterback Quinton Flowers was shredding the UCF defense to the tune of 605 total yards, but the Bulls were giving up 533 total yards in a narrow loss to their in-state rivals. USF was just a few bounces away from playing in a New Year’s Six bowl in Charlie Strong’s first year, while Texas Tech was just a few bounces from missing a bowl entirely, which might have spelled doom for Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure in Lubbock.

Most interesting player on the field: South Florida QB Quinton Flowers. The NFL may force Flowers to switch positions, but in his final college game, take some time to appreciate the dynamic quarterback he has become at the only school that recruited him with the goal of keeping him under center. He will be the most talented player on the field and account for the majority of the Bulls’ offense. — Scooby Axson

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Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (San Diego State vs. Army, 3:30 P.M. ET, ESPN)

Why you should watch: With two of the top 11 rushing attacks in the country sharing the same field, you can lock in dinner plans for early Saturday evening knowing this bowl will be wrapped up in about three hours. San Diego State runs because it has the nation’s leading rusher Rashaad Penny, who racked up 2,027 yards in 12 regular season games. Army runs because ... it can’t (or won’t) pass. The Black Knights have thrown just 61 passes this year, slicing up defenses with an efficient option attack that lifted them to a 9–3 finish and the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy given to the winner of the annual series with fellow service academy teams Navy and Air Force.

Before UCF revealed itself to be a Group of Five juggernaut, San Diego State made a strong early case to crack the New Year’s Six bowls with a 6–0 start that featured wins over Stanford, Arizona State and Northern Illinois. Army has a Power 5 win of its own, knocking off Duke in November. Don’t expect anyone to back down in Fort Worth.

Most interesting player on the field: Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw. Will Bradshaw complete a pass? As the point man for the Black Knights’ option attack, he has turned in five games with no completions this season, including a 21–0 win over Air Force in which he didn’t even throw the ball once—but finished with 244 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He and the nation’s leading rusher Rashaad Penny could end up trading big gains. ­— Eric Single

Dollar General Bowl (Appalachian State vs. Toledo, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Why you should watch: You only get so many opportunities to watch Toledo play on Saturdays in the fall. The Rockets appeared in five consecutive games on weeknights from mid-October to late November as #MACtion’s main attraction, cruising to a conference title under the direction of head coach Jason Candle, who may be on his way to a Power 5 job in the next few years.

Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield has been mentioned as a riser in the coaching ranks himself, and his Mountaineers should provide a worthy test for Toledo in Mobile. Senior quarterback Taylor Lamb could get to 30 touchdown passes on the season if this one turns into a shootout, and junior tailback Jalin Moore is 88 yards away from 1,000.

Most interesting player on the field: Toledo QB Logan Woodside. Woodside’s raw numbers (3,758 yards, 28 touchdowns, five picks) didn’t quite live up to the crazy high bar he set in 2016 while sharing a backfield with Kareem Hunt, but he was still good enough to lay waste to most conference foes on the way to the Rockets’ first MAC title since 2004. The senior’s campaign to earn a mid-round flyer in next spring’s draft starts with one last showcase against a shorthanded Mountaineers defense missing sacks leader Tee Sims. — ES

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