Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Date: Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Marlins Park | Miami

Central Michigan

Best moment: Maybe it never should have happened, but it did happen. And good luck convincing anyone in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, it shouldn't have counted. A miracle Hail Mary lateral with no time remaining gave the Chippewas a major upset over Oklahoma State in September. The winning score -- made possible by a controversial call on the previous play -- ended up being the difference between Central Michigan's trip to a bowl this year and a 5-7 record.

Lowest moment: Losing to in-state rival Eastern Michigan is a tough enough pill to swallow. Losing by way of a last-minute touchdown heave despite good coverage makes it all the more unpleasant. The Chippewas have been on the happy side of dramatic finishes a couple times in John Bonamego's two years coaching his alma mater; they got a bitter taste of their own medicine in the season finale this year.

Key player: Quarterback Cooper Rush is one of a handful of bona fide NFL talents flying below the radar in the MAC this season. The 6-foot-3 actuarial sciences major has thrown for 3,299 yards and 23 touchdowns in his final season with the Chippewas. He has a big-time arm that has tested every secondary he has faced. Bowl season should be no different.

Motivation level: High. The tough loss to Eastern Michigan should leave the Chippewas eager to end the year on a high note. They don't have the sexiest stage in bowl season to perform on, but Rush and the rest of an impactful senior class have a chance to finish their careers without ever posting a losing record. -- Dan Murphy


Best moment: Tulsa's most impressive performance of the season likely came Oct. 29 at Memphis, when the Golden Hurricane upset the eventual 8-4 Tigers in impressive fashion, 59-30. James Flanders' 249 rushing yards and five touchdowns led the way.

Lowest moment: There's no shame in losing to Houston, considering the Cougars were ranked No. 13, but the way it happened had to sting. After mounting a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback, Tulsa fumbled the ball with 1:21 remaining and the Cougars returned it 24 yards for the decisive score in a 38-31 final.

Key player: Flanders led the league in rushing (1,529 yards) by a wide margin. He was also second in rushing touchdowns (17) and all-purpose yards (1,546). It has been a remarkable finish for the redshirt senior.

Motivation level: High. Tulsa will be playing for a 10-win season, which would be the program's second time reaching double-digit wins since 2012. This is no small sign of progress for a program that is in its second year under Philip Montgomery. -- Matt Fortuna