Western Kentucky (11-2) vs South Florida (8-4)
When: Monday, December 21st 2015
Where: Marlins Park, Miami, FL
Time: 2:30 ET | TV: ESPN
A couple of hot offenses will meet in this year’s Miami Beach Bowl when the South Florida Bulls play the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. USF stumbled out of the gate losing three of their first four games, but then got hot and won seven of their last eight. The Bulls are 11th in the nation in rushing led by Marlon Mack’s 1,273 yards and eight touchdowns. Mack is 102 yards from breaking the school’s single-season rushing record set by Andre Hall in 2005. He has four straight 100 yard games including 230 in a win over Temple on November 14th. The Bulls have scored 153 points in their last three games and average 33.5 for the season. Quarterback Quinton Flowers has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,023 yards with 21 touchdowns this season and has just two interceptions in his last six games. His top target is Junior Rodney Adams, who has 38 catches for 686 yards and 8 touchdowns. Defensively, the Bulls allow just 21.1 points per game and are led by first-team All-AAC cornerback Deatrick Nichols (four interceptions). South Florida has not played in a Bowl game in five years and can match a school-record with their ninth win of the season.
Western Kentucky boasts one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country led by quarterback Brandon Doughty. The senior has completed 71.8% of his passes for 4,594 yards and leads the nation with 45 touchdown passes. Doughty threw for 410 yards in the 45-28 win over Southern Miss at the C-USA title game to give the Hilltoppers their 11th win of the season. Western Kentucky will play in their third bowl in four years after beating Central Michigan 49-48 at the Bahamas Bowl last season. The Hilltoppers have won five straight games overall and are averaging 49.4 points in that stretch. Doughty has several weapons to throw to including Taywan Taylor, who owns single-season school records in receptions (79) and receiving yards (1,363). Jared Dangerfield (76 catches) and Nicholas Norris (58) have also excelled and running back Anthony Wales is 14 rushing yards short of 1,000 for the season. The defense ranks 58th nationally in yards allowed and 82nd against the pass. They allowed 28 points in each of their last two games.
This should be a fun game to watch offensively. This one will be decided on which team can make the most stops and I believe that will be South Florida. I think their running game is good enough with Mack that it will allow the Bulls to control the game more.
Pick: South Florida +2.5