C-USA Bowl Notebook
Dec. 18, 2013
C-USA Champion Rice leads six teams into bowl games, joined in the postseason by East Carolina, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Tulane.
Rice will play in the 55th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl at 3 p.m. CST on Monday, Dec. 31 in Memphis, Tenn. The Owls will be making their first appearance in the Liberty Bowl as they make back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1960-61 after winning last year's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Rice will meet SEC member Mississippi State in the game.
Marshall returns to the postseason for the second time in three years as the Thundering Herd will play in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. Marshall is scheduled to play Maryland from the ACC on Friday, Dec. 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EST.
East Carolina will play postseason football for the seventh time in eight seasons when it plays in the Beef `O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl on Monday, Dec. 23, at 2 p.m. EST. The Pirates will play Mid-American Conference member Ohio. It will be ECU's first appearance in St. Petersburg.
Middle Tennessee will return to bowl action for the first time since 2010 when it plays in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 30. The Blue Raiders are 8-4 for the second consecutive season and enter postseason play on five-game winning streak. They are scheduled to face Navy in the game that will kick off at 10:45 a.m. CST. North Texas will be making its first bowl appearance since 2004, when it plays in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in historic Cotton Bowl Stadium on Jan. 1 (11 a.m. CST on ESPNU). The Mean Green are 8-4 and played in four-straight New Orleans Bowls from 2001-04 as Sun Belt Conference Champions. North Texas will play Mountain West Conference foe UNLV in this year's game.
Tulane has accepted an invitation to play in the 2013 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, marking the program's first appearance in the New Orleans-based bowl and its 11th bowl game in school history. Tulane will take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, Dec. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. CST and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Florida Atlantic gave the league a seventh bowl-eligible team with a 6-6 record. UTSA (7-5) reached conditional bowl-eligibility, but, as a transitioning FBS member cannot go to the postseason because there are more than 70 bowl-eligible teams in the FBS.
2013 marks the first time in C-USA history that eight teams won six or more games in one season.
R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL
TULANE vs. LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE
NOTING THE GREEN WAVE: After 38 years as its home field, Tulane will be playing in the Superdome for the final time before moving into an on-campus facility next season.... The Green Wave, who will be appearing in a bowl for the first time since 2002 (a win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl) was 5-1 in the dome this season....The Green Wave was led by a defense that forced 33 turnovers (second in FBS), including seven picks by second team All-American CB Lorenzo Doss....Linebacker Nico Marley was named C-USA co-Freshman of the Year.
NOTING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Louisiana-Lafayette has won the last two R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowls, including a 43-34 win over C-USA member East Carolina last season....Quarterback Terrance Broadway broke his wrist in the season finale, so freshman Brooks Haack will start in his place....Freshman RB Elijah McGuire was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year. He ranked fourth in the conference in rushing, carrying 92 times for 818 yards, a nation's-best 8.9 average and seven touchdowns while catching 15 passes for 290 yards and three scores....The Ragin' Cajuns ranked 24th in the FBS in rushing, averaging 208.7 yards per game.
GAME NOTES: Conference USA will be a part of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the 10th time in the bowl's 13 years....This year's game will be played on a Saturday night for third time in the last four years, with an 8 p.m. kickoff scheduled....Tulane will be the sixth different C-USA school to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
BEEF `O' BRADY'S BOWL
EAST CAROLINA vs. OHIO
NOTING THE PIRATES: East Carolina will play postseason football for the seventh time in eight seasons.... The Pirates, who will try to maintain their momentum after closing the regular season with wins in five of the last six games, are looking for their 10th win of the year, which would be the program's second-highest single-season victory total in school history....Junior QB Shane Carden was named Conference USA MVP. The four-time C-USA Offensive Player of the Week accounted for 42 touchdowns this season (32 passing and 10 rushing) while throwing for a C-USA-best 3,866 yards. Carden leads all FBS players in completing 71 percent of his pass attempts (358-of-504) and his passing TD total is eighth in the nation.... The Pirates defense hays netted 35 sacks (-214 yards) in 12 games this season, which currently ranks 14th nationally.
NOTING THE BOBCATS: Ohio is in a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season....The Bobcats have won their last four games against C-USA schools, including victories over Marshall and North Texas this season....The Bobcats are 0-2 vs. C-USA schools in bowl games, falling to Southern Miss in the 2006 GMAC Bowl and Marshall in the 2009 Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl.... Ohio's 28th-ranked pass defense is led by Travis Carrie who topped the Bobcats with four interceptions.
GAME NOTES: This is the sixth year of the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl and C-USA has been a part of each game....ECU becomes the fifth different team from the East Division of Conference USA to play in the bowl....The game is played at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and is the only college football game played each year at the facility.
MARSHALL vs. MARYLAND
NOTING THE THUNDERING HERD: The Thundering Herd, who are seeking their first 10-win season since 2002, took down FIU in the 2011 Beef O'Brady's Bowl....Junior QB Rakeem Cato was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 36 touchdown passes while throwing for 3,579 yards. The 2012 C-USA MVP has at least one TD pass in 31 consecutive games.... The Marshall defense leads the FBS in terms of improvement in scoring defense compared to the 2012 campaign (19.9 fewer points allowed per contest this year, allowing 23.2 per game). The unit places third in C-USA in pass defense and sixth in total defense, after ranking 10th and 12th in those categories a year ago.
NOTING THE TERRAPINS: Maryland has won five of its last six bowl games, including a 51-20 victory over east Carolina in the 2010 Military Bowl at RFK Stadium, its last bowl appearance....Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis is about 27 miles from the Maryland campus. The Terps haven't played there since losing to the Midshipmen 19-7 in 1965....Maryland opened the season 4-0 in non-conference play, including a victory over C-USA member FIU, before finishing 3-5 in their final season of ACC play...The Terrapins wil begin play in the Big Ten Conference next season.
: This is the sixth Military Bowl game and the first to be played in Annapolis. The previous five games were held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL
MIDDLE TENNESSEE vs. NAVY
NOTING THE BLUE RAIDERS: Middle Tennessee, which is back in a bowl for the first time since 2010, carries a five-game winning streak into Fort Worth and is averaging 42.6 points per game over that stretch....Senior QB Logan Kilgore, the school's career leader in touchdown passes, has accounted for 12 TDs (10 passing, 2 rushing) during the five-game win streak....The Blue Raiders are ranked in the top five nationally in turnovers forced (31), but he Midshipmen have turned the ball over just eight times all year, the fewest miscues in the FBS.
NOTING THE MIDSHIPMEN: The Armed Forces Bowl is Navy's 19th bowl game all-time and the school's 10th in the last 11 years. This will be the fifth time that Navy has played in the state of Texas for a bowl game and the first since the Mids 35-13 win over Missouri in the 2009 Texas Bowl in Houston....The Midshipmen are third in the FBS in rushing this season, averaging 320.1 yards per game and have rushed for 43 touchdowns.... Sophomore QB Keenan Reynolds has been a touchdown machine, accounting for 28 TDs (22 rushing, 7 passing) over his last seven games, including an eight-TD effort against San Jose State on Nov. 22. He has 29 rushing toouchdowns on the season, the most in the FBS this season and a single-season record by an FBS quarterback.
GAME NOTES: Conference USA has been as part of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in all but one year of the bowl's 11-year existence....Last year's game marked the return to a completely-renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth....Four of the last six Armed Forces Bowls have been decided by less than a touchdown....The Armed Forces Bowl is the first bowl to have Air Force, Army and Navy participate in the game.
AUTO ZONE LIBERTY BOWL
RICE vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE
NOTING THE OWLS: A victory will allow Rice to set a new school record for victories in a season. The Owls won 10 games in 2008 and 1949....Rice enters the game with its first outright conference championship since 1957 and will make back-to-back bowl appearance for the first time since 1960-61....The Owls have won 15 of their last 18 games dating back to Oct. 27, 2012. That is the best stretch since the Owls won 15-of-17 from Nov. 8, 1952 to Oct. 2, 1954. Rice owns the top rushing offense in C-USA, averaging 240.9 yards per game, and has the second-ranked unit in total defense, surrendering 352.6 yards per outing. The Owls are fourth in C-USA in scoring defense at 22.9 points per game, down 7.1 points from last season. Head Coach David Bailiff was named C-USA Coach of the Year and the Owls placed a league-high 10 players on the All-Conference teams, including five first teamers.
NOTING THE BULLDOGS: This will be the fourth straight year that Mississippi State has played in a bowl game, a first in program history. The Bulldogs are 9-7 in bowl games and have won five of their last six....MSU is averaging 426.2 yards a game, on pace to break the single-season record of 422.0 yards per contest, set in 1982. Their 5,114 total yards are second on the program's single-season chart (5,271 in 2010).
GAME NOTES: C-USA's champion returns to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl as it has all but year since the league's first football season in 1996....C-USA teams have an all-time record of 12-9 in the game....This will be Rice's first AZLB appearance, while Mississippi State is in the game for the fourth time. The Bulldogs defeated UCF, 10-3 in the 2007 game.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
NORTH TEXAS vs. UNLV
NOTING THE MEAN GREEN: After wining eight games for just the 15th time in 100 seasons of football, North Texas will be playing in its first bowl game since 2004....The Mean Green possess the No.1-ranked red zone defense in the FBS and have allowed the second-fewest points in the fourth quarter in 2013....North Texas is ranked fourth in the FBS in takeaways (17 interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries)....The Mean Green offense has scored 378 points, the most since 1951 and the second-highest total in school history....Brelan Chancellor is the second player in C-USA history to be named first team at kick returner and punt returner, while picking up second team honors as a wide receiver.
NOTING THE REBELS: UNLV ends the third-longest bowl drought in the FBS by making its first postseason appearance since the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl. This will be just the second bowl appearance in school history outside of Las Vegas (1984 California Bowl in Fresno)....The five wins in Mountain West play was their most ever....Senior RB Tim Cornett is the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,700 career yards, including 1,251 this season to go with 15 rushing touchdowns....Junior WR Devante davis had 1,194 receiving yards, third-best in school history and 152 shy of the UNLV record set by Jim Sandusky in 1981.
GAME NOTES: Conference USA makes its second appearance in the four-year old Heart of Dallas Bowl (Houston defeated Penn State in the bowl then known as the TicketCity Bowl in 2001)....The last meeting between the teams came during the 2000 season, the year of the Rebels last bowl appearance....The game will be played 35 miles from the North Texas campus in Denton, Texas.