TAMPA, Fla. — Well nieces and nephews the suitcase is packed, the official newsgathering vehicle is gassed up, the GPS is in-synch and your old travelling uncle is out on the highway heading for the first stop of the bowl season.
Oh did Uncle Mel forget to mention it is that time of the season, with some many bowl games to watch-were does one start?
For your old beachcombing uncle, the first stop this week is to the golden sandy beaches that reaches out and caresses the Gulf of Mexico that softly sweeps the shore line of the city of Saint Petersburg.
Uncle Mel’s first bowl game will kick off bright and early Monday morning inside Tropicana Field.
The Saint Petersburg Bowl and your brunch time uncle will be watching two teams that are really happy that their schedule has been extended.
First, say hello to the team from the good old Mid-American Conference, Miami University and their overall record of 6-6 and finishing 6-2 in the conference which was good enough to share the East Division title of the MAC with Ohio University.
After starting the season with six losses, the RedHawks put it together for a six game winning streak to wrap up the season and secure an invitation to the sunny state of Florida to meet the Bulldogs.
Playing at the Saint Petersburg Bowl will be Miami University 11th bowl game appearance and they have been playing football at Miami University for 127 years.
The RedHawks’ bowl game record is 7-3 and the last time the RedHawks played in a bowl game was back in 2010 at the Go Daddy Bowl played in Mobile, Alabama they defeated Middle Tennessee State University by the score of 35-21.
Miami University is led by sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland. He led his team to an average of 361.4 yards per game and scored 23.4 points.
The defense for the RedHawks is one of the best in the Mid-American Conference only allowing 356.6 of total yards of offense and they are stingy about giving up yardage on the ground by only allowing the opponents to run for an average of 139.7 yards.
“Obviously, everybody involved with Miami football is excited. Players, coaches particularly the seniors, as you can imagine. Going through their whole career and never getting a bowl game,” Miami University football coach Chuck Martin said. “We get lucky enough to go to St. Pete, play an SEC opponent which makes even more exciting.”
Now let’s all welcome the team with an overall record of 5-7, Mississippi State University representing the mighty Southeastern Conference and the great state of Mississippi.
The Bulldogs have played in 19 bowl games and have a record of 11-8 in bowl appearances.
Leading the Bulldogs offensively is their sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, he is a duel-threat, he can throw the ball but he can also run.
Fitzgerald has thrown the ball for 2,287 yards and he has completed 21 touchdown passes. He also leads the Bulldogs’ rushing attack, he has rad for 1,243 yards and has cross the goal line 14 times for the Bulldogs.
Defensively the Bulldogs are led by defensive end Johnathan Calvin, he leads his team with 54 tackles and seven sacks.
“You watch everything but you pay more attention to the last six games. It is not like they were being crushed early in the season and all of a sudden the light came on for them,” Mississippi State University football coach Don Mullen said about getting prepared for Miami University. “They were battling and had some tough losses early in the season but they are a team that plays with a little more confidence.”
Both teams will want to control the game’s tempo by getting the running game established, controlling the ball by eliminating turnovers and getting touchdowns instead of field goals.
Kickoff inside Tropicana Field is scheduled at 11 a.m. Monday morning Dec. 26 and for your old uncle, it will be an appetizer leading to the main course but it really should be an entertaining game and a great way to start the 2016 Bowl Season.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.