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Friday Bowl Games Preview, Open Thread: Bahamas Bowl, Cure Bowl

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Remembering some guys, great moments in Bahamas Bowl history, and a place to talk Friday’s bowl games! Join the conversation!

(Ben Solomon/ESPN Images)

BOWL SEASON IS HERE.

First! Before you do anything! Go join the OTE Bowl Game Pick’em—we’ve got both Straight-Up and Confidence options through ESPN, and Stew has walked you through exactly how to play and what you can win:

Most every day that there’s a bowl game, we’ll be here with a short preview and an open thread for the action—make of it what you will, and be sure to check out all our Big Ten bowl game previews and commentary on B1G Bowlapalooza 2021!

Thankfully, this year Kind of... has agreed to take on bowl season with me, particularly helping us wander down Memory Lane for great moments in these bowl games’ and teams’ postseason histories. I’ll give you some things to watch for, maybe a talking point or two, but Kind of... is here to educate you, so just sit back and luxuriate in it all.

Bahamas Bowl

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-6) vs. Toledo Rockets (7-5)

11am | ESPN | Toledo -10 | O/U 50.5

Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas

I’m honestly a little amazed Rick Stockstill is still at the helm in Murfreesboro. The Blue Raiders are decidedly mediocre—only a win over Marshall stands out as notable, and all their losses were to bowl-eligible teams. Error-prone Nicholas Vattiato will sling it a bunch for MTSU, who has used four quarterbacks in 2021.

My gauge of this game is how the Blue Raiders have stopped the run, because Bryant Koback and the Rockets’ offense can move the ball on the ground. Both Charlotte and UTSA moved the ball well on MTSU; I gave the edge to Toledo (37 points confidence).

B1G-relevant moments from each team’s bowl history

Toledo: I could’ve sworn Toledo had matched up with a B1G school sometime in the past, but I’m wrong. So, instead, let’s focus on why anybody who claims there are too many bowls is just an idiot who hates joy in this world. In 2000, Toledo went 10-1 and was ranked #25 at the end of the regular season. They beat Penn State in Happy Valley. They were 11th in the nation in scoring. They had Chester Taylor at RB.

And they didn’t make a bowl.

They lost the tiebreak for the MAC West and sat home during bowl season. [Western Michigan won the MAC West, lost the MAC Championship game to Marshall, and also stayed home despite being 9-3.] Bowls are good, and I’m glad Toledo is in one this year.

MTSU: None. MTSU has played only seven games against B1G opposition as a FBS school, going 0-1 vs. Michigan, Iowa, and Purdue, and 0-2 vs. Illinois and Minnesota. The 2011 contest vs. Purdue deserves comment though, as Purdue—who went to a bowl that year—required a last minute TD to escape with a 27-24 victory over a Blue Raider squad that finished the year 2-10 and 116 of 120 FBS teams in terms of SRS.

Give me a blast from the past. How can I sound like I know more than I do?

Toledo: Kareem Hunt and Chester Taylor are 1-2 in the Toledo all-time rushing list, but let’s talk about Wasean Tait, who’s at #3. In 1995, he put up a monster year: 357 carries, 1905 yards, and 20 TDs for coach Gary Pinkel. Toledo went 11-0-1 on the year and made history in the Las Vegas Bowl, winning the first overtime game in FBS history:

MTSU: Back before MTSU was a FBS school, they were a pretty good FCS school, especially from 1989-1994, when they made the playoffs five times in a six-year stretch under Hall of Fame coach Boots Donnelly. The last three of those appearances were led by QB Kelly Holcomb, who bounced around for a while before finding himself the unlikely starter for the Cleveland Browns in a 2002 Wild Card Game after Tim Couch broke his leg in the season finale. He responded by throwing for 429 yards, but the Browns lost 36-33 in a classic.

B1G-Relevant moment from Bahamas Bowl history

Don’t bother. There’s too much other good shit from the short, but glorious history of the Bahamas Bowl to luxuriate in. Even if you already know all of this, it’s still worth another look.

I’m convinced that in 30 years an award-winning book will be published about how the Bahamas Bowl provided a glimpse into our global future but nobody was ready to acknowledge it.

MNW: How can we discuss the Bahamas Bowl without appreciating the glory that is the short-lived—but amazing—Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl?! Take in the glory of what is apparently called a SIZZLE REEL:

Someday The Athletic will write a 10,000-word oral history of its inception, and we will be the richer for it.

The only other noteworthy thing here is that the trophy is called the Prime Minister’s Trophy, which is a cool name and more bowl trophies should be hyper-local, like the New Mexico Bowl trophy that’s a ceramic pot handcrafted by native Pueblo.

Poll

Who wins the Bahamas Bowl?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Middle Tennessee
    (4 votes)
  • 80%
    Toledo
    (17 votes)
21 votes total Vote Now

Cure Bowl

Northern Illinois Huskies (9-4) vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (10-2)

5pm | ESPN2 | Coastal -10.5 | O/U 63.5

Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL

I honestly don’t know how NIU has gotten to the point they did. They don’t seem like they should be that good! AND YET!

You already know about Grayson McCall and the Mullets and all the weird locker room stuff Coastal does. They seem fun, and Jamey Chadwell’s offense is definitely cool! Gonna suck when we learn he’s an asshole or something.

B1G-relevant moments from each team’s bowl history

NIU: Neither team has played a B1G school in a bowl game, so let’s talk about other stuff. NIU is no stranger to B1G schedules, playing no school more that Wisconsin, against whom they are 1-12 all-time (Never forget 1988 Huskie fans!). I can personally attest to a terrifying 24-21 Badger victory in which UW QB Brooks Bollinger was sacked 10 times (NOT an exaggeration).

Anyway, all good B1G fans are aware of what NIU has built, and the length of time over which they’ve sustained it. Let’s collectively tip our caps, okay? And not mention that they’ve lost their last six bowls, only one of which was close.

CCU: Coastal Carolina has been FBS for five years and this is their second bowl. Obviously no overt B1G connections to speak of. So, let’s just tip our hat again, this time to the Chanticleers’ 21-3 record over the last two years, agreeing to ignore the Georgia State game if Coastal fans stop playing the UCF/playoffs card from last year.

Give me a blast from the past. How can I sound like I know more than I do?

NIU: Rookies know that P.J. Fleck was an accomplished receiver for Northern Illinois in the early 2000s. So was, um, Sam Hurd. And Justin McCairens (late 90s). But NIU’s bread-and-butter is RBs. Thomas Hammock, Michael Turner, and Garrett Wolfe came in quick succession in the Huskies’ early 2000s glory days. The early 2010s glory days were led more by running QBs like Jordan Lynch and Chandler Harnish.

But spare a moment for O.G. LeShon Johnson who, in 1993, for a 4-7 NIU squad that played in the Big West (!!!), rang up 1,976 yards in eleven games, averaging 6 yards a carry. Aiding those efforts was a 32 carry, 306 yard performance against a bowl bound Iowa Hawkeye squad in a game that Iowa won 54-20 (and, sure, Johnson had an 81 yard run in garbage time).

CCU: As the program has only existed since 2003, there isn’t as much to cover here. However, Coastal is building a RB tradition of their own. Sadly, I’m writing this on the one-year anniversary of Lorenzo Taliaferro’s death by overdose. He was a Chant and then stuck with the Ravens for a few years. De’Angelo Henderson was a 5’8”, 210 ball of dynamite who I really hoped would stick in the NFL, but it was not to be. Still, Big South POY.

B1G-Relevant moment from Cure Bowl history

Without stretching the definition of “relevant,” there really isn’t one. So let’s talk about NIU’s first bowl bid instead, the 1983 California Bowl. [The MOP of the 1982 California Bowl was Fresno State QB Jeff Tedford.] Some excellent defense in critical moments allowed the Huskies to cap a 10-2 season with a 20-13 win. It was the last game at NIU for head coach Bill Mallory, who headed to Indiana to resurrect the Hoosiers, who lost Sam Wyche to the Bengals after a single year in Bloomington. Wyche had replace Lee Corso, who, in 1984, took over the Northern Illinois job for a single season.

#3 James Madison Dukes at #2 North Dakota State College for Artificial Hog Insemination and Also Natural Hog Insemination Bizon

8:15pm | ESPN2 | NDSU -4.5 | O/U 47.5

Here’s your open thread for the day’s football. Enjoy!