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BOWL PREVIEW SERIES - PART XII
January 4, 2007

SCS.com Not only did the BCS National Championship move back to a week into the month of January, it brought along a couple of weekend games to warm us back up to college football after the New Year's bash. The underrated MAC has four bowl teams this season, and two of them play in these final two non-BCS bowls. The first bowl game will be played outside of the United States, is aptly named the International Bowl, and pairs Western Michigan against a Cincinnati team in transition. The GMAC Bowl in Mobile will showcase the best Ohio Bobcats team since the 1960's against Southern Mississippi, who - like the Bobcats - lost their conference title game in their most recent outing.

International Bowl | GMAC Bowl

INTERNATIONAL BOWL - Western Michigan vs Cincinnati
January 6 - 11:00 AM CST ESPN2 - Toronto

When Western Michigan has the ball...

The Western Michigan offense has not put up a lot of points this season, but the Broncos go as RB Mark Bonds goes. Bonds has 1082 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns this season, and he complements QB Ryan Cubit nicely. Cubit can be erratic at times, and Cincinnati might pressure him enough to cause problems. Interim head coach Pat Narduzzi is literally the last man standing after Coach Dantonio left with everyone else for Michigan State, and he will have the defense ready to go for sure (he was defensive coordinator). The running game will be hard to establish against the Bearcat defense.

When Cincinnati has the ball...

The Bearcats have five losses this season, but each loss was against a top-10 caliber team on the road. A lot of this success came from Coach Dantonio installing his players into a good system drawn from his Ohio State days, but now the offense has to work with completely new coaches. Cincinnati has a nice trio of running backs in Butler Benton, Greg Moore, and Bradley Glatthaar. These three should be the focal point of the offense, as the quarterback situation between Dustin Grutza and Nick Davila is unclear at best. The Bronco defense is great against the run, and the defensive line is great at both pass rush and run stopping. This side of the ball matches up to be a great battle to watch.

The deciding factor...

As in many other bowl games, the International Bowl will be decided more than likely on if Cincinnati overcomes the coaching transition and shows up to play. The Bearcats really could have won a couple of those tough road games this season, so the talent is definitely there. Western Michigan is set up nicely to stop the Cincinnati offense and take advantage of the Bearcat adjustments. On the field, the deciding factor will probably be whoever dominates the running game.

The staff says...

Ben David Eddie Ethan Gregg Jeff Jonathan Matt Matthew Reed
CIN CIN WMU CIN WMU CIN CIN CIN WMU CIN

GMAC BOWL - Ohio vs Southern Miss
January 7 - 7:00 PM CST ESPN - Mobile, AL

When Ohio has the ball...

Coach Frank Solich has turned the Bobcat program into a winner in just two years, and he's done it on the offensive side of the ball, primarily in the running game. RB Kalvin McRae produced 1215 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground as well as hauling in 29 receptions to help out the passing game. Hopefully Ohio has starting QB Austen Everson back from injury instead of backup Brad Bower, as Everson runs the ball better and opens up more options than Bower. Southern Miss has not been very effective on defense this season, especially against the run. This appears to open the door for McRae to have a huge day on the national stage.

When Southern Miss has the ball...

The similarities between these teams are striking, as the Golden Eagle offense also relies heavily on establishing the running game. Freshman RB Damion Fletcher has 1330 yards and 9 TDs on the ground this year, while QB Jeremy Young is like Everson in that he makes plays with his feet when the passing game gets shut down. Young has been far more efficient though, and Southern Miss can actually pass the ball. Ohio's only big weakness is their defensive line, which has lots of trouble slowing any good running game down. Just like on the other side of the ball, this matchup appears to favor the running game.

The deciding factor...

Whichever defense steps up to stop a couple of drives or stuff a couple of third and short yardage plays on the ground will lead the team to victory. Both quarterbacks will probably make mistakes, but both running backs will be counted on for big plays. There are more questions surrounding Ohio after Central Michigan shredded them in the MAC title game, so the defensive line of the Bobcats will be the X-factor in this one.

The staff says...

Ben David Eddie Ethan Gregg Jeff Jonathan Matt Matthew Reed
USM OHIO USM OHIO USM USM USM OHIO USM USM

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