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 on Wednesday: James Blackman completed 18-of-26 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns in Florida State's 42-13 rout of Southern Miss. Drake Kulick's one-yard touchdown with 3:09 remaining in the Pinstripe Bowl gave Iowa a 27-20 comeback victory over Boston College. Anthony Mahoungou's incredible 38-yard touchdown catch with 1:44 powered Purdue past Arizona in a wild Foster Farms Bowl. Boilermakers quarterback Elijah Sindelar (396 yards, four touchdowns) outlasted phenom Khalil Tate (302 yards, five touchdowns) in an epic duel. Texas blasted Missouri in the Texas Bowl 33-16 to cap off a jam-packed night.
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Why you should watch: The Military Bowl brings together two teams with plenty of history—this will be their 39th meeting—but ones who haven’t met since 1994. Between that and the fact that the bowl is held in Annapolis, which is home to Navy and less than three hours from the UVA campus, there should be a great and engaged crowd on hand. This is an interesting matchup, because both teams struggled in the second half and are coming in on a three-game losing streak. However, the Cavaliers’ lone win in their last six games was notably against Georgia Tech, who, like the Midshipmen, runs the triple option. Virginia’s been a great story this season, having turned around a 2–10 season in 2016 to earn its first bowl berth since 2011, while Navy will play in its sixth straight bowl, hungry to finish the season on a high-note after its one-point loss to rival Army.
Most Interesting Player on the Field: Navy QB Malcolm Perry. There’s been plenty of mystery this season surrounding who would start each week at QB for the Midshipmen, but the 5'9" Perry turned heads when he ran for 250 yards in the snow in the loss to Army, racking up more yards himself than the Black Knights had overall. It seems safe to say he’s earned the Military Bowl start. — Molly Geary
Camping World Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Why you should watch: It’s Mason Rudolph’s last college game, and the Oklahoma State quarterback has been one of the best at his position over the past four years. Ruldoph threw for a career-high 4,553 yards, averaging 10.0 yards per attempt. He led all quarterbacks in passing yards this season, in fact. Check out the last iteration of the high-flying Cowboys offense—and against one of the most well-rounded teams in college football. Virginia Tech has been inconsistent at times this year, but when it’s playing at its best, it can compete with the top teams in the game.
Most interesting player on the field: Virginia Tech CB Greg Stroman. Stroman will be charged with doing something, anything to disrupt Oklahoma State’s prodigious passing game, which led the nation with 392.2 yards per game, and the All-ACC senior may be up to the task; this year, he was good for four picks and 15 passes defended. — Joan Niesen
Valero Alamo Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Why you should watch: Both schools lost out on spots in New Year’s Six Bowls after suffering defeats in their respective conference championship games. But don’t be completely fooled by the outcome, there’s a reason why these teams were vying for conference supremacy in the first place. David Shaw and Gary Patterson are two of the 10 best coaches in college football, so this contest should be sharply played and well-disciplined. The biggest storyline from this will be essentially an unstoppable force against an immovable object, also known as Stanford’s ground game vs. TCU’s rush defense. The Cardinal, headlined by Heisman finalist Bryce Love, averaged 6.0 yards per carry, good for sixth-best in the country. On the other side, TCU allowed a minuscule 2.9 yards per carry, which ranks fourth. There’s a strong chance whichever team wins this battle will ultimately have it reflect in the scoreboard as well.
Most interesting player on the field: Bryce Love. Love possesses sprinter speed and underrated power, a deadly combination that has led to his remarkable feat of 12 straight games with a run of at least 50 yards. He has been battling an ankle injury but still has put up warrior-like efforts for Stanford down the stretch. With a few weeks of rest, we could see a more dominant Love in what could be his final collegiate game. — Max Meyer
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (9 p.m. ET, FS1)
Why you should watch: This isn’t your older brother’s Washington State defense. The Cougars have made big-time strides on that side of the ball under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, improving all the way to 15th in the country by allowing 314 yards per game and surrendering a mere eight touchdown passes. Michigan State also has a very strong defensive unit, in large part to increasing its sack total from 11 in 2016 to 28 this season. While a defensive battle is certainly in the cards, both teams also possess quarterbacks who can sling it. Luke Falk holds several Pac-12 career passing records, while Brian Lewerke showed plenty of promise in his sophomore campaign. Michigan State has not faced an offensive scheme quite like Mike Leach’s Air Raid, and the Cougars have plenty of weapons in the arsenal as eight different players have accumulated at least 300 yards receiving—although leading wideout Tavares Martin Jr. was recently dismissed from the program. Michigan State’s vaunted defensive front will need to make its mark on the game, but it won’t be easy against Washington State’s veteran offensive line.
Most interesting player on the field: Washington State DE Hercules Mata’afa. The bad news: We’ll only get to see Mata’afa for the second half, since he was penalized for targeting in the second half of Washington State’s regular season finale and must serve a four-quarter suspension. The good news: The defensive tackle is an absolute wrecking machine when he is on the field. He finished fifth in the country with 21.5 tackles for a loss and led the Cougars with 9.5 sacks despite missing two games. — Max Meyer