It is the most wonderful time of the year for every college football fan, and it is not just because of the holidays. Bowl season is now underway, with five of our nine area TAMs (Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi) teams participating in this year’s festivities. Conference pride is on the line, and this year’s bowls are full of great matchups and intriguing storylines involving our TAMs teams. The bowl season is sure to be a memorable one, but for a preview of this year’s TAMs bowl matchups, look no further than MemphiSport:
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Nevada
Two of the best rushing attacks in the nation will go head to head when these two teams face off on Saturday at 8 pm ET. The Golden Eagles are 14th in the nation in scoring and are looking to build off their upset win over Houston in the C-USA championship. This is Coach Fedora’s last game before taking over at North Carolina, so expect Southern Miss to play motivated football and send their coach out with a win.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Wake Forrest
Mississippi State sneaks into a bowl game after a very disappointing 6-6 season. They will face a Wake Forrest team that got throttled by Vanderbilt in their last game. Thankfully Wake Forrest is not an SEC West opponent, otherwise Dan Mullin’s squad would be in trouble. Points will be hard to come by as the Bulldogs are giving up less than 20 points per game.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
Not the matchup that we wanted at MemphiSport (Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss in the “Battle for Mississippi” is what we wanted), but you cannot argue that a matchup between the Big East co-champion and an up and coming Vandy squad will be a good game never the less. Vanderbilt has one of the best bowl win percentages out of any major university at .625. The catch is the Commodores have only been to four bowls in 121 years. Coach Franklin has a contract extension and is looking forward to facing off against the Big East Coach of the Year Butch Jones. If the Big East wants to be taken seriously their co-champion cannot lose to the eighth place team in the SEC.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Arkansas vs. Kansas State
This is a great matchup with two top ten teams facing off. Arkansas has the misfortune of being in the same division as LSU and Alabama, so they missed a chance to play in a BCS bowl. The Razorbacks have one of the most potent offenses in the nation ranking 13th in the nation in passing yards and averaging 37 points per game. If you take away the Razorback’s games against Alabama and LSU, they are averaging close to 42 points per game. Kansas State will be the Razorbacks third top ten opponent, and hopefully they will fare better than they did in their first two games.
GODADDY.com Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois
This is one of only three bowls that will include two conference champions facing off. The Red Wolves are without Coach Freeze, who is now the head coach at Ole Miss, but they are still looking to get to 11 wins for the first time since becoming an FBS school. Ryan Aplin is still under center so the Red Wolves are still a dangerous team offensively. Arkansas State will have to stop one of the most potent rushing attacks in the nation as the Huskies average 247 yards per game. Chandler Harish and Jasmin Hopkins lead the nations 9th ranked rushing attack, and the Red Wolves must contain the ground game if they want to come out on top of this one.
The Mid-South is full of fans with allegiances to different area college football programs. Which FBS program in the three states surrounding the Memphis area is the best? To help end some arguments and start others, every week MemphiSport ranks all the college football teams in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi . We call it the TAMs Rankings.
CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from the Liberty Bowl on December 31.