Sandra Dukes/Icon SMI
Florida Atlantic (6-6) vs. Central Michigan (8-4)
Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Reason To Watch: With two passing offenses ranked within the nation's top 27, we're bound to see some eye-popping numbers, something that's been a foreign concept to bowl sponsors Ford and General Motors of late. Plus, it could give MAC teams from Michigan twice as many wins in Ford Field as the hapless Detroit Lions with Western Michigan beating Illinois back in November.
Keep An Eye On: Dan LeFevour and Rusty Smith. Both were slowed by injuries this season. Now healthy, these passers will get a chance to tee off against struggling pass defenses. The Chippewas' LeFevour, a junior who has been known as Tim Tebow Lite, passed for 2,531 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for another 536 yards and six TDs. He'll face an Owls passing D that ranks 80th nationally, giving up 219.1 yards per game. Smith, also a junior, threw for 2,918 yards and 22 scores and will go up against Central Michigan's 118th-ranked pass defense (285.6 ypg).
Did You Know?: Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger has never lost a bowl game in 24 seasons as a college coach. He is 5-0 in the postseason in stops at Miami (Fla.), Louisville, Oklahoma and FAU, which he led to a 44-27 win over Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl last year.
Final Analysis: Considering the Chippewas are giving up 30.7 points a game and the Owls 29.3, this has shootout potential, which the Motor City is no stranger to -- three of the last six game have had featured 69 or more combined points. Both teams come in on different paths: Florida Atlantic won five of its last six games to make the second bowl in school history, while CMU is coming off back-to-back losses. But one thing these two teams have in common is a penchant for close games. The Chippewas had eight games decided by seven points or less, while the Owls had four, so expect nothing less.
The edge goes to LeFevour's Chippewas, who are playing in this game for the third straight year and should own the crowd. After all, Florida Atlantic fans aren't too likely to travel nearly 1,400 miles to Detroit in December.
The Pick: Central Michigan 38, Florida Atlantic 35