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 last night: Temple won a bowl game for the first time since 2011 with a 28–3 victory over FIU in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Owls quarterback Frank Nutile threw for 259 yards and accounted for two scores, and the Temple D picked off Panthers backup QB Maurice Alexander twice in the win. FIU lost starting senior QB Alex McGough to a shoulder injury after just one pass, ending his college career and thrusting Alexander into the game. Florida International was held to 169 total passing yards and just 83 rushing yards, its only points coming on a third-quarter field goal.
Friday marks the second multi-bowl day of the month as the schedule starts to pick up. Here’s a five-minute viewing guide to your afternoon.
Bahamas Bowl: Ohio vs. UAB (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Why you should watch: Last season (and the one before that), there was no UAB football team. Now, in their first year back after the school reversed its decision to shut down the program, the Blazers are going bowling for just the second time in their history. It’s a terrific story and a pretty compelling reason to watch right there. Meanwhile, Ohio comes in having missed out on the MAC championship game after losing its final two regular-season contests. The Bobcats, who easily handled MAC champ Toledo in early November, are a talented team who—like the Blazers—have plenty of motivation to end the season on a high note. The game features a pair of quarterbacks (Ohio’s Nathan Rourke and UAB’s A.J. Erdely) who are threats on the ground in addition to through the air. Ohio ranks 10th in the country in run defense, which poses a challenge for Blazers leading rusher Spencer Brown. Meanwhile, Rourke may need to rely on his run game even more than usual (see below). The Blazers rank 22nd in the country in passing defense, so he’s unlikely to beat them through the air.
Most interesting player on the field: Ohio QB Nathan Rourke. As a sophomore, Rourke passed for 2,018 yards and 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions … and ran for 21 scores while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. That’s more rushing touchdowns than Rashaad Penny, Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love, Ronald Jones and, well, actually everyone but FAU’s Devin Singletary (29) has in 2017. — Molly Geary
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Central Michigan (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Why you should watch: After some uncertainty as to whether he would join the wave of top prospects skipping their bowl games, Wyoming QB Josh Allen will take advantage of one final opportunity to put on a show for the NFL evaluators who believe he could be a top-10 pick in the 2018 draft. Allen began his junior season riding a swell of draft hype, only to turn in a rocky September that took the Cowboys out of national focus and miss the final two games of the season with an injury to his throwing shoulder.
Slicing up the Central Michigan defense won’t address one of the central knocks on Allen’s résumé, the quality of his competition: He completed less than 55% of his passes and threw three interceptions (and no touchdowns) against Wyoming’s only two Power 5 opponents this year. That doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to watch—Allen’s lack of polish leads to some heroic individual efforts mixed among the head-scratching misfires.
Most interesting player on the field:Central Michigan QB Shane Morris. Allen’s every move will be scrutinized by NFL scouts looking to get a live look at one of the 2018 draft’s most divisive prospects, but Morris’s career revival in Mount Pleasant after leaving Michigan as a graduate transfer will also come to a high-profile close in Boise. After arriving in Ann Arbor with five-star expectations yet never seizing control of the Wolverines’ offense, Morris heated up down the stretch this fall to propel Central Michigan into the bowl picture, tossing 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions over a season-ending five-game winning streak. — Eric Single