As part of Last Word on College Football’s coverage of every bowl game, on this edition we will head south to Florida. It is time for the Boca Raton Bowl Preview and Predictions for the contest featuring Western Kentucky and Memphis. The game will be at 7:00 pm on December 20th and televised on ESPN.
Played on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, the Boca Raton Bowl is a one of the newest games on the bowl slate in only its third year. In 2014 Marshall beat Northern Illinois and last season Toledo beat Temple. This year’s match up has the potential to be one of the better games of the bowl season.
How Western Kentucky Got Here
The Hilltoppers are 10-3 on the season, champions of Conference USA and will be making their third straight bowl appearance but they will be doing so without their head coach.
Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford will take over the program after the bowl game. Sanford was quarterbacks coach under Willie Taggart at WKU in 2010.
— WKU (@wku) December 14, 2016
When you talk about Western you have to start with their explosive offense. The Toppers rank second in the nation with 45 points per game. Furthermore they have scored more than 44 points in their last nine games including 58 in the Conference USA Title Game.
Their three losses on the year were to Alabama, Vanderbilt in overtime and Louisiana Tech. Western got revenge on Tech in the Conference USA title game.
Mike White took over at quarterback from the record setting Brandon Doughty and continued to put up huge numbers. White threw for over 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns. His favorite target is wide receiver Taywan Taylor.
Nick Saban called him as good as any receiver we faced this year and his stats back that up. Taylor was second in the nation in receiving yards with 1,589 on 89 catches and 16 touchdowns.
In addition to Taylor senior running back Anthony Wales has been a workhorse for WKU. Wales ran for 1,376 yards and 24 touchdowns ranking him second in the nation.
How Memphis Got Here
However the Tigers have reloaded under new coach Mike Norvell and finished the season with an 8-4 record. Riley Ferguson was more than up to the task of replacing Lynch throwing for 3,326 yards and 28 touchdowns.
His favorite target has been Anthony Miller who had a huge year with 84 receptions for 1,283 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Hilltoppers find themselves in that awkward position of playing their bowl for an interim coach. Usually one of two things happen, the team rises to the occasion or they come out flat and unmotivated.
The Tigers were expected to be down this season but Coach Norvell has stepped right in and the program hasn’t lost a step.
If you want a high scoring up and down game then this is right up your alley. Western ranks 110th in the nation in passing defense.
Likewise Memphis is near the bottom in both rushing and passing defense so the high octane Hilltopper offense should put up big numbers.
— Boca Raton Bowl (@BocaBowl) December 14, 2016
If this game is not a high scoring back and forth affair then it will be a total shock. Look for this one to come down to maybe the last possession. The over-under is 79 on this game which is way to low.
Even with an interim coach the Toppers will beat an American Athletic Conference team for the second straight year in a shoot-out.
Western Kentucky 48- Memphis 42
Thanks for checking out all the bowl coverage here at Last Word on College Football, see you next time.