College football fans in the state of Florida won’t have to stay up late to enjoy bowl season, as it turns out.
The four teams of the state all play their games in the afternoon. Not only that, but there are pretty interesting matchups on the line, too.
The first bowl game including a state school is the Miami Beach Bowl, when USF coach Willie Taggart takes on his old school –Western Kentucky — on Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m. Taggart played, was an assistant and then a head coach for the Hilltoppers.
The Bulls are a completely different style of team than Western Kentucky. While the Bulls have ridden a strong running game led by Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack to wins in seven of their last eight games, the Hilltoppers are an excellent passing team. Brandon Doughty is only the third quarterback in NCAA history to have back-to-back seasons of 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
The next bowl game involves two teams from opposite corners of the country in the Sun Bowl when Miami plays Washington State on Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. The intrigue here will be trying to envision the eyes of the Hurricanes through new coach Mark Richt.
FSU plays against Houston at noon in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31. Houston has an explosive offense led by quarterback Greg Ward Jr., a player wo has accounted for 35 touchdowns. With Ward and FSU’s Dalvin Cook, there should be plenty of reason to watch.
Then there is the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, which will be played on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. That game pits two of the best first-year coaches in the country. This year, Jim McElwain improved Florida from seven wins to 10, and Jim Harbaugh improved Michigan from five wins to nine. Neither team scores a lot, but both have very good defenses.
None of the four got near the playoffs, but the bowl games are bigger than that. Three of the bowls, all except the Sun, are within driving distance.