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First Look at the 2016-2017 MAC Bowl Schedule

This is appointment television, people

NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Western Michigan at Ohio Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

December 17

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Toledo vs Appalachian State

5:30 p.m. on ESPN

Don’t let the fact that it’s one of the first games of the bowl season fool you, this has potential to be one of the best. Both teams enter at 9-3 and have never met on the field before. The Camellia Bowl is in its third year of pitting two conferences that like to play on weeknights against each other, and the games have been quite good in that span.

Bowling Green defeated South Alabama 33-28 in 2014, and Ohio nearly upset this same Appalachian State team last year, losing 31-29 loss. For the MAC to take a 2-1 lead in the Camellia Bowl series, the Rockets will have to best a Mountaineer team that won the Sun Belt and has just one loss in its previous nine games.

The Rockets are led by All-MAC first team quarterback Logan Woodside, whose 43 touchdown passes lead the FBS. The story for Appalachian State is on the ground on both sides of the ball, where they rush for nearly 250 yards per game while allowing just 125. But the Rockets can counter with Kareem Hunt, who recently rushed for 200 yards on 20 carries against Cotton Bowl bound Western Michigan.

This game has ultimate weird potential, though, despite it being played between two very good football teams. Toledo has six first team All-MAC players on offense, and can turn any game into a shootout like their early season tilt with BYU, which ended up being so good and running so long that Mack Brown actually left the booth early:

In a MAC game, nothing is out of the ordinary.

December 19

Miami Beach Bowl

Central Michigan vs Tulsa

2:30 p.m. on ESPN

The 2:30 feeling is real, and too much coffee is bad for you. Might I suggest waking up by consuming your weight in POINTZ instead?

That’s what CMU-Tulsa is willing to do for you, the hard-working American sports fan. It exists to jump start your otherwise average Monday with a weird combination of great offense and poor defense that causes you to wonder if any drug could possibly match the feeling. You don’t want to watch this game. You need to watch this game.

For starters, it’s a football game in a baseball stadium, so you’re contractually obligated as a college football fan to tune in for the novelty alone. And as far as bowl games in baseball stadiums go, it’s not the Pinstripe Bowl, so there’s that.

Your main supplier of POINTZ this fine afternoon will be Tulsa, who averages over 40 points per game, which was second in the AAC to Willie Taggart’s USF team. The Golden Hurricane are 9-3 and they were a goal line stand from defeating the Houston Cougars, and apparently just playing Houston at all makes you a good team these days. Tulsa ran a ton of plays this year, 1,029 of them to be exact, which is something you’re able to do when you have two running backs eclipsing the 1,300 yard mark. James Flanders led the AAC in rushing with 1,529 and scored 17 touchdowns, and D’Angelo Brewer rushed for 1,330 yards of his own.

Central Michigan will probably counter with something like this:

Or maybe this:

December 23

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Eastern Michigan vs Old Dominion

1:00 p.m. ESPN

You saw the Bahamas Bowl ending from 2014 above. The 2015 version featured six touchdowns of 40 yards or more, and the longest scoring drive was barely over three minutes long. And maybe you thought that’s as good as the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl could possibly get, but then you haven’t been watching Eastern Michigan.

The Eagles are led by a the guy who at 1:25 in the video below requested a low-five from an official.

That’s Brogan Roback, who missed the first game due to a violation of team rules, and played the role of backup into October, before throwing three touchdown passes on nine completions against Bowling Green. Needless to say, the Eagles are fun. They finished 2016 fourth overall in the MAC at 30 points per game, and compiled over 450 yards per contest as well.

Old Dominion was a bit more prolific on offense, scoring 40.1 points per game and excels passing the football, which is excellent news if you’re a member of #TeamOffense. Turns out, the Eagles aren’t so hot at defending the pass, allowing 7.4 yards per play to opposing defenses through the air and 271.6 yards total per game, good for third worst in the MAC. Looks like the Bahamas Bowl will once again come through with the quality entertainment we expect from our bowl games.

Dollar General Bowl

Ohio vs Troy

8:00 p.m. on ESPN

The first ever football game at Ladd-Peebles stadium was in 1948, between Alabama and Vanderbilt. The game ended in a 14-14 tie, hearkening back to a time when America was still cool with that sort of thing. Also, president elect Donald Trump makes a stop there on the 17th for what he says is for a victory tour, but we all know is just a stress test for the upcoming Dollar General Bowl between OHIO AND TROY.

Frank Solich’s team nearly did the impossible and upset Western Michigan at Ford Field in what was basically a home game for the Broncos, but with better weather. For their efforts, they get a date with Troy, which might be the weirdest good team in the country. The Trojans made it all the way to November 17th with just a single loss to Clemson by six points on the road, which if they were a power five school would have made them undefeated in the eyes of the committee.

With both the Bobcats and Trojans excelling on defense, there’s a good possibility this game ends up being the anti-Bahamas Bowl, and a perfect watch for those of you who are card-carrying members of #TeamDefense.

December 26

St. Petersberg Bowl

Miami vs Mississippi State

11:00 a.m. on ESPN

If you’re not familiar with Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State quarterback, commit his name to memory. He’s no Dak Prescott (who is?), but he is the first quarterback in Bulldog history to rush for one thousand yards in a single season, something Prescott was unable to do in his time in Starkville.

The Bulldogs blew out Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to get to bowl eligibility, albeit at 5-7, but this is no ordinary 5-7 football team. Three of Mississippi State’s losses came by a combined six points, to LSU, South Alabama and Kentucky. Though it hasn’t played particularly well against very good teams outside of Ole Miss, it is still a dangerous offense with a quarterback that was third in SEC in rushing for any position.

But if you’re Miami, there’s no reason to lack confidence. The RedHawks begain the season 0-6, and in one of the more compelling in season turnarounds I’ve ever seen, found a way to rattle off six games in a row, and were a dropped Akron touchdown pass away from representing the MAC East in the conference championship game. How about that?

Miami’s quarterback isn’t the prolific rusher Fitzgerald is, but Gus Ragland hasn’t lost a football game in 2016. He hasn’t even thrown an interception. But the RedHawks may have to rely on some defensive stops to remain in the game despite being heavy underdogs. They were near the top in the MAC in scoring defense, allowing just over 24 points per game, and they only allowed 5.2 yards per play to the opposition, though the Bulldogs are a different task altogether. They may have struggled in the SEC, but it wasn’t because of their offense.

January 2

Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Western Michigan vs Wisconsin

1:00 p.m. on ESPN

You’re not seriously going to watch Iowa and Florida, are you?

Sure, punting is awesome, but WMU - Wisconsin may feature real offensive production you won’t get between the Outback commercials on ABC. WMU is one of the most efficient offenses in the country, and averages nearly 500 yards per game on 6.8 yards per play. Plus, this is basically the B1G West Championship game.

For Western Michigan, on the line is proving it belongs on this stage, and by extension the conference it calls home. For Wisconsin, it’s an opportunity to finish in the top ten in a season it started unranked, and solidifying Big Ten dominance in this college football season.

Wisconsin’s three losses have come to Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan, and they did not lose convincingly in either of those three contests, meaning the Badgers have assembled a coalition of quality losses never before seen in the college football playoff era. Their success is owed in large part to their suffocating defense, allowing just 15.5 points per game over the course of this season. It is particularly great at defending the run - the best in the Big Ten - and that means the Broncos may need to rely heavily on one Corey Davis.

Davis is the first ever consensus All-American in WMU history, and was also the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Davis will play in his 40th game for Western Michigan when he takes the field for the Cotton Bowl, and in that time he’s caught 325 passes for an NCAA FBS record 5,205 yards along with 51 touchdowns. The likely first round pick from Wheaton, Illinois will get his final opportunity to showcase his skills against one of the best defenses in college football.

And look, Wisconsin is either going to start a quarterback named Hornibrook or Bart, so you’re not not going to tune in.