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Bahamas Bowl 2019: Buffalo vs. Charlotte TV Info, Time and Odds

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2019

Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson (26) runs with the ball during an NCAA college football game against Penn State, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in University Park, Pa. Penn State won 45-13. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Steve Luciano/Associated Press

Either the Buffalo Bulls or Charlotte 49ers will kick off the FBS bowl season with a historic win at the Bahamas Bowl.

Buffalo has not earned a bowl victory in three tries, while Charlotte is making its first-ever postseason appearance. 

The Bulls out of the MAC won five of their last six games, while the 49ers of Conference USA reeled off five consecutive victories to become bowl-eligible. 

In addition to having two of the hottest Group of Five teams, the season's first bowl possesses one of the top individual matchups on the interior. 

                   

Bahamas Bowl Information

Date: Friday, December 20

Start Time: 2 p.m. ET 

TV: ESPN 

Odds (via Caesars): Buffalo -6.5; Over/Under: 52.5

            

Preview

Charlotte's Alex Highsmith is the top individual to watch Friday afternoon. 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 23: Alex Highsmith #5 of the Charlotte 49ers during the second half during their game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Jerry Richardson Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The senior defensive end is second to Ohio State's Chase Young in sacks with 14, and he is coming off a 4.5-sack performance versus Old Dominion. 

Highsmith's effectiveness will be key to Charlotte's success, as the Bulls rely on a run-heavy offense. 

If he and linebacker Markees Watts, who has 9.5 sacks, are able to clog up some of Buffalo's lanes, Charlotte has a good chance to stay close and potentially close out a victory. 

However, that will be difficult against the Bulls' two-man backfield attack of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, who combined for 2,634 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. 

Lance Leipold's team has fed Patterson and Marks at a consistent level all year and that is not expected to change. 

Charlotte concedes 190.8 rushing yards per game, but its defense improved in November by holding its last four opponents to under 25 points. 

The 49ers could counter with their own 1,000-yard rusher Benny LeMay, who has three straight 100-yard rushing performances. 

However, the biggest difference between the two defenses is Buffalo's ability to stop the run. 

The Bulls rank fourth in the FBS with 95.3 rushing yards conceded per contest, and it is seventh in total yards allowed per contest. 

In the previous six games, Buffalo held half of its opponents below 20 points, but it was gashed by bowl qualifiers Kent State and Central Michigan for 50 combined points. 

If that trend against teams with winning records extends into Friday, the over of 52.5 has a good chance of hitting. 

And if Charlotte is able to keep pace with Buffalo's scoring through LeMay and quarterback Chris Reynolds, a spread bet could be a nervy one. 

In four of the five Bahamas Bowls, the game has been decided by one score, with the lone exception coming in 2017, when Ohio rolled UAB by 35 points. 

Additionally, three of those five games have featured both sides eclipsing 30 points, so the trend leans to the over.

               

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.