College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 20 Viewer’s Guide

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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 20 bowl menu, which on Opening Day features a pair of games with schools from three different conferences — two from the MAC, one each from Conference USA and the MAC.

WHO: Buffalo (7-5) vs. Charlotte (7-5)
WHAT: The 6th Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: For those curious, the sponsor of the bowl, Makers Wanted, is not a whiskey.  Or a bourbon.  Rather, it serves as the slogan for an industrial park in a Chicago suburb, the largest such park in the United States. … Under fifth-year coach Lance Leipold, Buffalo has already won more games in a two-year span (17) than it has at any other point in its history.  The Bulls are also playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever, but are seeking their first-ever postseason win. … Charlotte is even more of a postseason neophyte than today’s opponent.  The 49ers are in just their fifth season at the FBS level, and this will mark their first-ever bowl game. … Charlotte enters that first-ever postseason appearance riding a five-game winning streak, easily the longest in the program’s short history. The old standard? Two in a row, accomplished twice. … Buffalo isn’t exactly freezing cold at the moment, though, as the MAC school won five of six to end the regular season. … If you want one player on which to focus, try Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson (pictured). The sophomore running back leads the MAC and is fifth nationally with 1,626 yards. His 17 rushing touchdowns are also tops in the conference and tied for eighth in the country. … That could prove to be a frightening proposition for Charlotte as the 49ers are 97th in stopping the run (190.8 yards per game).
THE LINE: Charlotte, +6½
THE PREDICTION: Buffalo 27, Charlotte 17

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WHO: Utah State (7-5) vs. Kent State (6-6)
WHAT: The 3rd Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
WHERE: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
TICKETS: Click here
THE SKINNY: Utah State’s postseason hopes nearly went up in smoke when three players, including starting quarterback Jordan Love and leading rusher Gerold Bright, were popped for pot, but it has since been confirmed that the trio will play in the game. … Come to think of it, it’s a shame USU isn’t playing in today’s Bahamas Bowl. … Kent State, meanwhile, is bowl-eligible for just the fifth time in the last four decades.  The Golden Flashes last played in a bowl game in 2012, and have played in just two in the program’s FBS history. The MAC school has never won a postseason game. … Kent’s six losses this year are its fewest since that 2012 season.  And, it should be noted, three of those 2019 losses came at the hands of Arizona State, Auburn and Wisconsin. … Kent enters this game riding a three-game winning streak, its longest in seven years.  USU has won three of four entering the postseason. … The Aggies averaged over 50 points per game on offense a year ago; that number has been cut in half this season (25.2 ppg). … What could help USU is Kent and its porous defense. The Golden Flashes give up 31.8 ppg (88th nationally) and 6.3 yards per play (108th). … The two programs have met just twice previously (1973 & 1974).  Each team won one game in that home-and-home. … History, as brief as it is, would suggest this particular game won’t be close. The first two Frisco Bowls had a combined score of 78-10.  To that, I say history be damned.
THE LINE: Kent State, +6
THE PREDICTION: Kent State 31, Utah State 30