Miami Beach Bowl Preview
Central Michigan Chippewas vs Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
If you like offense, there’s a good chance you will enjoy this showdown in Marlins Park on December 19 (Enter Contest). The first Miami Beach Bowl in 2014 featured a combined 103 points between Memphis and BYU, while WKU and USF went back-and-forth in a 45-35 victory by the Hilltoppers last season.
Tulsa features one of the nation’s most-balanced attacks on offense, averaging 260.8 yards per game through the air and 261.8 on the ground. Quarterback Dane Evans has passed for 27 scores, while running backs James Flanders (1,529 yards) and D’Angelo Brewer (1,330) each eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Central Michigan is led by senior quarterback Cooper Rush (23 TDs), but the Chippewas have struggled in pass protection and ranked last in the MAC in rushing offense. However, Central Michigan is still averaging nearly 30 points a game (27.7). The Golden Hurricane ranks near the bottom of the American Athletic Conference in scoring defense (31.5), so this one shouldn’t be short on fireworks.
ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN (6-6, 3-5 MAC West)
An improbable win over the Oklahoma State on September 10 came in very handy for Central Michigan. It allowed the Chippewas a partipation in the Miami Beach Bowl. This win helped because they’ve lost four of their final five games, including a 26-21 heartbreaker to Eastern Michigan in its regular-season finale. The game ended in favor of the Eagles on a long touchdown pass with 21 seconds left. Without the Oklahoma State victory in its hip pocket, Central Michigan would be spending mid-December in chilly Mount Pleasant instead of sunny Miami.
The Chippewas are led by senior quarterback Cooper Rush, who has completed 254-of-416 passes for 3,299 yards and 23 touchdowns. Wideout Corey Willis is his favorite target with 1,028 yards receiving and nine touchdowns while Devon Spalding is the team’s top rusher with 737 yards and six scores on 131 carries despite missing two games. Cornerback Amari Coleman, who led the MAC in passes defended (19) and tied for first in the conference with four interceptions, and inside linebacker Malik Fountain (84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss) both were First Team All-MAC selections.
ABOUT TULSA (9-3, 6-2 AAC East)
Tulsa finished second to Navy in the American Athletic Conference West Division. The Golden Hurricane’s three losses came against the Midshipmen (42-40), Houston (38-31) and Ohio State (48-3). Coached by former Houston and Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, Tulsa ranks sixth nationally in total offense (522.8 yards), eighth in rushing offense (261.8) and 11th in scoring (41.4 points), and will be going up against a Central Michigan defense that ranked 43rd in total defense (376.2).
The Golden Hurricane feature two 1,000-yard rushers in senior James Flanders (1,529) and D’Angelo Brewer (1,330), who finished 1-2 in the AAC, a 3,000-yard passer in senior Dane Evans (3,044) and a 1,000-yard receiver in senior Keevan Lucas (1,108). If senior wide receiver Josh Atkinson (927) reaches the 1,000-yard mark in the bowl game, Tulsa would become the first team in FBS history with a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers. Senior linebacker Trent Martin leads the defense in tackles (94) and interceptions (two) while defensive lineman Jesse Brubaker tops the team in tackles for loss with 12.5 to go along with 54 tackles. He also collected 4.5 sacks.