The bowl season is still young, with just a handful of games being completed. We've been treated to a thrilling game between Nevada and Arizona, a defensive slugfest between BYU and San Diego State and a dominant rushing performance in Utah State's victory over Toledo.
The juiciest matchups, though, are still to come.
We're still early in bowl season, meaning the premiere games are still over a week away. That doesn't mean that this week's games are clunkers, however. On the contrary, there are plenty of great games to choose from. These games in particular are especially intriguing.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl—East Carolina vs Louisiana-Lafayette
More likely than not, only die-hard college football fans will tune into this matchup of two 8-4 mid-major teams. Everyone else will miss out on a game that promises to be high-scoring and exciting.
ULL was the victor in last year's New Orleans Bowl, a game that went down as perhaps the most exciting of last year's bowl season. This year's game might struggle to live up to last year's, but these two teams are set up to promise another thriller.
The numbers truly tell the tale of this game: While both ECU and ULL average over 30 points per game on offense, both surrender well over 25 as well. That promises plenty of fireworks in this game.
ULL quarterback Terrance Broadway is a player to watch in this game. He has been dynamic for the Ragin' Cajuns with a passing efficiency of 153.4 and 3,167 yards of total offense this season. Broadway is just 258 yards from breaking the Ragin' Cajuns total offense record, so expect him to give his best performance in this game.
For ECU, wide receiver Justin Hardy has a strong connection with quarterback Shane Carden. Hardy has gone over 100 yards in five games this season for the Pirates. Don't be shocked when he does it again on Saturday.
With such talented offenses for both teams, this game should be a wild shootout, with the team who possesses the ball last being in good position to win the game.
Game Time: 12 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22
Military Bowl—No. 24 San Jose State vs Bowling Green
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We will find out Thursday, when the San Jose State Spartans take their 11th-ranked passing attack to face Bowling Green's seventh-ranked defense.
Junior quarterback David Fales has been one of the best quarterbacks in the nation for the Spartans, ranking third in passing efficiency and seventh in passing yards. Fales has been especially brilliant as the season wore on: He's racked up 1,931 yards and 19 touchdowns in the Spartans' last six games, all wins.
Senior defensive tackle leads the Bowling Green defense. The Mid-American Conference Player of the Year has racked up an incredible 12.5 sacks from his tackle position. He is a relentless and technically sound player who should disrupt the Spartan passing attack more than once in this game.
Whether this game will be a low-scoring defensive struggle or a fast-paced shootout is anyone's guess. That's what makes this game so intriguing. Either way, Fales leads a passing attack that provides must-watch television.
Game Time: 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27
Bridgepoint Education Bowl—Baylor vs No. 17 UCLA
With all of the great matchups this bowl season, none intrigues me more than the red-hot Baylor Bears taking on the UCLA Bruins. If you like shootouts, this is the game to watch.
Baylor leads the entire nation in offense with an incredible 578.8 yards of offense per game, and senior quarterback Nick Florence is a big reason for that. By himself, Florence has accounted for an incredible 4,652 yards of total offense, or 387.7 yards per game. For reference, that's more than 42 teams have averaged per game.
Likewise, UCLA is an offensive juggernaut, led by freshman phenom Brett Hundley. If not for a guy named Johnny Manziel, Hundley would be the name on everyone's lips as the best freshman quarterback in years. Hundley led the Bruins to a resurgent season that found them one game away from a BCS Bowl, and his 3,411 passing yards were a big reason why.
Both of these teams feature more than just strong passing games, though. Both are also dominant on the ground, with Baylor and UCLA ranking 19th and 26th in the nation, respectively. UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin has accumulated an eye-popping 1,700 yards on the ground this season, and Baylor's pathetic defense will be at a loss on how to defend him.
To be sure, both of these defenses have struggled this season. UCLA has surrendered an average 25.9 points per game, while Baylor has surrendered a brutal 38.2 points per game, including 70 against West Virginia. Neither defense will have an answer for these two incredible offenses.
Baylor has been a part of some incredible games over the past two seasons, including last year's 67-56 Alamo Bowl victory and this year's 70-63 loss to West Virginia. This game has the chance to rival those shootouts in terms of offense and excitement.
Game Time: 9:45 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27
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