B.O.W.L. in C-USA: Here’s how WKU’s conference rivals have fared in bowl games this postseason

Chris Reynolds (3) of the Charlotte 49ers had a short celebration after his team scored the first touchdown of the game against Western Kentucky University’s Hilltoppers on Oct. 19, 2019, in Houchens-Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, Ky. The Hilltoppers went on to beat them 30-14.

Elliott Wells

College football bowl season is in full swing, and Conference USA sent eight schools to play in bowl games this holiday season. 

C-USA Champion Florida Atlantic led the group of eight teams to reach six or more wins throughout the 2019 regular season, and the Owls were joined in the postseason by West Division Champion Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Southern Mississippi and WKU.

Only the ACC (10), SEC (9) and Big Ten (9) had more teams selected to complete their seasons in a bowl-game setting, and C-USA was also the only non-Power 5 conference to send at least eight teams to postseason bowl games.

C-USA schools were slated to play bowl games against members of the ACC (1), American (3), Mid-American (2) and Sun Belt (2) Conferences, including matchups against former C-USA member schools Southern Methodist, Tulane and Central Florida.

SMU and UCF were two of the top 10 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring offense, as the two schools tied for sixth nationally with a whopping 43 points per game this year.

No. 20 Appalachian State, the ninth-ranked FBS team in scoring offense at 39.4 points per game, was also set to go bowling against a current C-USA member.

Coming into the 2019-20 bowl season, C-USA had collectively posted a 30-18 (.625) mark over the past seven years in bowl games, which included the best record of all the conferences four times in the past eight seasons.

C-USA teams haven’t fared as well so far this postseason, as FAU and LA Tech are the only C-USA schools to gain victory in bowl games so far.

Overall, C-USA member schools have recorded a 2-4 record and dropped the league’s overall record in recent bowl games to 32-22 (.593).

The Owls held a high-scoring SMU offense to a season-low 28 points, slowing the racing Mustangs to an abrupt halt from start to finish.

FAU was without the services of former FAU head coach Lane Kiffin, as he accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Power 5 Mississippi on Dec. 7.

But the C-USA Champion was unfazed by adversity. FAU defensive coordinator and interim head coach Glenn Spencer guided an Owl squad missing several key starters to a 52-28 blowout win over SMU for FAU’s second-ever Boca Raton Bowl crown.

The Bulldogs used their ferocious defense to shut out Miami (FL) for the first time since No. 6 Clemson blanked the Hurricanes 58-0 on Oct. 24, 2015.

LA Tech captured its third Independence Bowl championship in a low-scoring 14-0 decision over Miami and moved to 6-0 in bowl games since the 2014 season.

The Bulldogs became the first team this bowl season to hold their opponent scoreless for an entire contest, and the program also recorded its first 10-win season since joining C-USA in 2013.

Although current C-USA members FAU, UAB and Marshall posted a combined 1-2 record against SMU, App State and UCF — three of the highest-scoring FBS offenses in 2019 — only UCF was able to reach or surpass its season average point total, posting 48 points.

WKU and Southern Miss are the only two C-USA teams still waiting to play in their bowl games this postseason. The Hilltoppers will squeeze their postseason matchup in just before 2019 ends, while the Golden Eagles won’t take the field again until a few days into 2020.

Here is the complete C-USA football bowl schedule, featuring information about completed matchups in addition to kickoff dates, times and more for the two remaining games:

Bahamas Bowl (Nassau, Bahamas)

Charlotte (7-6) vs. Buffalo (8-5)

Date: Friday, Dec. 20

Final Score: Buffalo 31, Charlotte 9

Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, Florida)

FAU (11-3) vs. SMU (10-3)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 21

Final Score: FAU 52, SMU 28

Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Alabama)

FlU (6-7) vs. Arkansas State (8-5)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 21

Final Score: Arkansas State 34, FlU 26

New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans)

UAB (9-5) vs. No. 20 App State (13-1)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 21

Final Score: No. 20 App State 31, UAB 17

Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Florida)

Marshall (8-5) vs. UCF (10-3)

Date: Monday, Dec. 23

Final Score: UCF 48, Marshall 25

Independence Bowl (Shreveport, Louisiana)

LA Tech (10-3) vs. Miami (FL) (6-7)

Date: Thursday, Dec. 26

Final Score: LA Tech 14, Miami (FL) 0

First Responder Bowl (Dallas)

WKU (8-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)

Date: Monday, Dec. 30

Kickoff: 11:30 a.m.

Television: ESPN

Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas)

Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Tulane (6-6)

Date: Saturday, Jan. 4

Kickoff: 10:30 a.m.

Television: ESPN

Reporter Elliott Wells can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Elliott on Twitter at @ewells5.