BIRMINGHAM BOWL STORYLINES

1. When Texas Tech and No. 24 South Florida meet in the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field on Dec. 23, two of the top offensive teams in the nation figure to light up the scoreboard. Behind senior quarterback Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech ended the regular season ranked 17th in FBS in total offense (468.4 yards per game) and 26th in scoring offense, averaging 34.6 points. USF senior quarterback Quinton Flowers led the Bulls to an average of 508.6 yards per game, ninth nationally, and spearheaded the No. 16 scoring offense in the nation (38.3).

2. Flowers has the opportunity to end his collegiate career as one of the most prolific offensive players in American Athletic Conference and school history. Already the school record holder with 11,385 career yards of offense, Flowers needs just 47 more to become the conference all-time leader. Flowers also needs just 44 yards to break Marlon Mack’s school record for career rushing yards, one more touchdown pass for sole possession of first with 68, just 312 yards passing to break Matt Grothe’s single-season mark of 2,911 and with four scoring strikes would break his own single-season mark of 24 set last season.

3. In the final regular season game against rival Texas, Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury went with sophomore quarterback McLane Carter in place of Shimonek, who had started the opening 11 games of the season. But with Texas Tech down by 10 to start the fourth quarter, Shimonek entered the game and rallied the Red Raiders to a 27-23 victory with a pair of touchdown passes and 96 yards through the air. Kingsbury wasted no time in removing any doubt as to who would start the Birmingham Bowl, announcing three weeks out that Shimonek would get the call under center against USF.

TV: Noon ET, ESPN.

>>>Click Here to Enter Contest<<<

ABOUT TEXAS TECH (6-6, 3-6 Big 12): The Red Raiders became bowl eligible for the 38th time in school history with a victory against Texas in the regular season finale. The often maligned Texas Tech defense, which ranks 99th in the country in total yards per game allowed, came up with the big plays against Texas as it forced four turnovers overall to fuel the comeback and preserve the victory. After allowing 40 or more points in five of the opening nine games, the Red Raiders held their final three opponents to under 30.

ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (9-2, 6-2 AAC): Under first-year coach Charlie Strong, the Bulls can accomplish something never done in program history. With a victory in the Birmingham Bowl, USF can record consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins for the first time since the program was born in 1997. “It’s big,” Strong told reporters. “It allows our seniors to go out on a winning note. Then it prepares us now to step into next season, where you go from 11 wins (in 2016) to 10 wins. Now you’re sitting with new expectations, a new team and a new season, you can carry over from that. You can build off of what you’ve done those last two years.”

Download the FanPicks Fantasy App. Click on the links below.

Posted in CFB

Birmingham Bowl Game Preview

South Florida Bulls vs South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina’s hire of Will Muschamp was met with plenty of skepticism, but the former Florida head coach deserves plenty of praise for his coaching job this year. His team is now set for a confrontation with South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl Game on December 29 (Enter Contest). The Gamecocks finished 6-6, showed improvement on defense and developed some promising playmakers for 2017 and beyond for the offense. Freshman quarterback Jake Bentley took over the starting job midway through the season and finished with 1,030 yards and six scores. He should benefit from the extra practices for bowl preparation, as South Carolina will need to score some points to keep up with South Florida’s dynamic offense.

Willie Taggart is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and guided the Bulls to an average of 43.6 points per game. However, Taggart left to take the coaching job at Oregon, leaving T.J. Weist to work as the program’s interim coach. Quarterback Quinton Flowers is a dynamic dual-threat option, while running back Marlon Mack has posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

ABOUT USF (10-2, 7-1 American Athletic)

With Flowers leading the way, the Bulls averaged a whopping 515.1 total yards and 43.6 points during the regular season. He also averaged 292.2 yards on the ground. Flowers and running back Marlon Mack (1,137 yards, 15 TDs) are a tough 1-2 punch on the ground, but Flowers can do damage with his arm and rarely makes mistakes. He has thrown 22 touchdown passes with just six interceptions. The Bulls haven’t been as consistent on the other side of the ball and have allowed at least 500 total yards in four of their last five games.

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (6-6, 3-5 SEC)

The Gamecocks had won four of five and were feeling positive about the direction they were headed before a 56-7 rout at the hands of rival Clemson to close the regular season. The 622 total yards surrendered to the Tigers marred what was an otherwise encouraging season for Muschamp’s defense, which ranked 10th nationally with 25 takeaways. They also have 14 interceptions in their fold. They have been tough in the red zone, allowing touchdowns just 28 times in 49 trips inside the 20. A young offense came to life late in the season after freshmen Rico Dowdle (714 rushing yards, six TDs) and Jake Bentley (1,030 passing yards, six TDs, two interceptions) took on larger roles.

Posted in CFB

Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Memphis vs. Auburn

As we continue our College Football Bowl games roundup; Fanpicks.com is proud to preview the Birmingham Bowl featuring Memphis and Auburn.  We predict a rather one sided game in favour of Memphis by a score of 42 – 28.  Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com; the premiere and most exciting destination for daily fantasy sports.

Memphis will head into bowl season without the head coach that guided them into the College Football Playoff Rankings before a late-season swoon. Justin Fuente took the vacant head coaching job at Virginia Tech, and the Tigers brought in former Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell on a five-year contract to be the new coach, but interim coach Darrell Dickey will guide Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., against Auburn on Dec. 30. Dickey is expected to remain with the program as part of Norvell’s staff moving forward.

Auburn had big expectations heading into the season but ended up falling off the pace as Jeremy Johnson struggled early at quarterback and eventually lost the job before regaining it down the stretch. The junior threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in a 56-34 win over Idaho on Nov. 21 that gained the team bowl eligibility but struggled again in a loss to Alabama the next week. Johnson threw only one of his seven interceptions on the season in the final four games.

Memphis will have the best quarterback on the field in senior Paxton Lynch, who might be the top quarterback taken in this spring’s NFL draft. Lynch threw for 28 touchdowns and three interceptions, with seven of those TDs coming on nine completions in a 63-0 victory over SMU in the regular-season finale. Lynch guided an offense that averaged 510.4 yards and 42.7 points.

MEMPHIS Season Overview (9-3): While Lynch is auditioning for pro scouts, most of the rest of the roster will attempt to impress Norvell and the new coaching staff. Norvell is expected to keep a similar up-tempo pace after guiding an Arizona State offense that averaged 39.3 points. The Tigers made big strides as a program under Fuente and ranked 13 in the first CFP rankings after beginning the season 8-0, but consecutive losses to Navy, Houston and Temple buried any hope the team had of a New Year’s Six bowl.

AUBURN Season Overview (6-6): Auburn was supposed to have an offense to rival the top teams in the SEC but never got things going under Johnson or freshman Sean White, who is recovering from a knee injury and could be back for the bowl game. The extra month of bowl practice gives coach Gus Malzahn a chance to work with a defense that lost coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson to the annual carousel. “Our goal in these first three practices is just get better with what we do,” Malzahn told reporters in mid-December. “That’s a big advantage with these bowl practices for that development of your guys as far as fundamentals … development of your young guys and also evaluate your young guys, because a lot of these guys have been on the scout team all year.”

Posted in CFB