One of the newest and most tropical additions to the bowl schedule, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, kicks off Thursday at noon ET. The second college bowl ever played in the Bahamas will feature teams who picked up eight wins with challenging schedules -- Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee. Here are a few of the more worthwhile reasons to watch, other than to see swaying palm trees and sunshine for a few hours.
1. Middle Tennessee’s father-son duo: It would be awfully hard to accuse Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill of nepotism after seeing the kind of numbers his son, Brent, put up while leading the Blue Raiders' offense this season. The Conference USA Freshman of the Year threw for 3,678 yards (13th-most in the nation) while starting all 12 games. He completed two-thirds of his passes in his old man’s quarterback-friendly offense and set school records for touchdown passes and passing yards per game. Unlike most players at the Bahamas Bowl, Stockstill will get to spend plenty of time with family during the holidays this season.
2. The winner will be happier than most: The novelty of winning a bowl trophy has not worn thin for either program. Middle Tennessee has won once in the postseason (the 2009 New Orleans Bowl). Western Michigan and coach P.J. Fleck are still searching for their first bowl victory. The schools are a combined 1-for-10 on bowl trips and hungry to find some success. These games are always a bit more entertaining when both sides are showing up for more than the complimentary gifts.
3. Last year’s Bahamas Bowl set a very high bar: The game between Central Michigan and Western Kentucky in last season’s inaugural battle for all the biscuits will be tough to match as far as drama goes. After falling behind by five touchdowns in the first half, the Chippewas scored 34 points in the fourth quarter to get within a point of the Hilltoppers.
Cooper Rush’s record-setting seventh touchdown pass -- a 75-yarder that included three laterals -- came on the final play of the game. Rather than try an extra point to force overtime, Central Michigan opted to go for two and came up short, losing 49-48. Even if this year’s game isn’t as entertaining, it’s worth tuning in to see the replay of that crazy final touchdown.