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2019 Camellia Bowl - Arkansas State vs Florida International
Since its inception in 2014, the Camellia Bowl has been one of the most fiercely contested bowls. All five of the previous meetings have been decided by five points or less, with the Sun Belt representative winning three of the last four games. That has the Arkansas State Red Wolves optimistic coming into this game. Arkansas State has only played in this bowl game once before, and the Red Wolves lost 35-30 to Middle Tennessee State in 2017. The oddsmakers believe they will avenge that defeat this time though, making them short favorites per the NCAA football betting odds against the Florida International Golden Panthers.
2019 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl at a Glance
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
Matchup: Arkansas State Red Wolves vs Florida International Golden Panthers
Odds: Arkansas State -2.5, total 63
Camellia Bowl Preview
It’s been a tumultuous season for the Red Wolves. Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson took a brief leave of absence just prior to the start of the year as his wife Wendy Anderson had terminal cancer, and that cast a shadow over the season to come. The Red Wolves fought fiercely and nearly knocked off SMU in their first game without Anderson, but when he surprised the team by returning just prior to the UNLV game, that inspired Arkansas State to go out and whoop the Rebels.
Freshman Layne Hatcher took over for Logan Bonner at quarterback after Bonner suffered a season-ending injury after Arkansas State’s victory over Southern Illinois in late September. The freshman quickly showed that the moment wasn’t too big for him with a superb season, completing 68.3 percent of his passes and averaging 9.9 YPA with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He was sacked often behind a patchwork offensive line, but he took advantage of one of the nation’s best receivers in Omar Bayless. Bayless caught 84 passes for 1,473 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and he was named a second team All-American for his efforts. Fellow receivers Jonathan Adams Jr. and Kirk Merritt stayed healthy and had fine seasons too, and this trio ended the year with 82.5 percent of Arkansas State’s receiving yards.
The offense needed to put up points as the defense wasn’t great. Arkansas State surrendered 30 points or more on seven occasions in 2019, and the Red Wolves also allowed FCS Southern Illinois to score 28 points in Jonesboro too.
This was supposed to be Butch Davis’ best team. Florida International was favored to win Conference USA according to the preseason NCAA futures odds, but the Golden Panthers underwhelmed and went 6-6. They started the season 1-3 with losses to Tulane, Western Kentucky, and Louisiana Tech, and they were in a fight to become bowl eligible the whole season.
While they were hammered by primary rival Florida Atlantic at home, FIU notched a program defining win in Butch Davis’ return to Miami late in the season. The Golden Panthers stunned Miami in their home as a three-touchdown underdog per the college football betting odds, making the most of three Hurricanes’ turnovers to steal a 30-24 victory that made FIU bowl eligible.
FIU finished the year 99th in SP+, and the offense was ranked outside the top 100. James Morgan was a game manager quarterback that was simply asked not to turn the ball over, and he obliged by throwing just three interceptions in 319 pass attempts.
The Golden Panthers ran the ball often, averaging 4.5 YPC, as Davis looked to win games with defense throughout the year.
The Golden Panthers struggled to stop the run, surrendering 5.2 YPC this season, but they were one of the best Group of Five schools when it came to shutting down the pass. FIU allowed just 174.4 YPG through the air (sixth best in FBS).
Camellia Bowl Format
The RAYCOM Camellia Bowl has been in existence since 2014 and is played at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The Camellia Bowl has current tie-ins with the Mid-American and Sun Belt Conferences. The Cramton Bowl seats 25,000 fans.
Camellia Bowl Prediction
Butch Davis led FIU to a win over Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl last year, and he has now taken the program to three straight bowls. That has made the veteran coach the most successful coach in the history of FIU, and he will have the Golden Panthers ready. Anderson is just 1-4 in bowl games, and that doesn’t bode well for Arkansas State’s chances here.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl Game Results
Bowling Green won the inaugural Raycom Camellia Bowl by knocking off South Alabama by a score of 33-28. Bowling Green blew a 27-14 second-half lead when Terrance Timmons scored a three-yard touchdown with 1:20 left in regulation, but Roger Lewis scored on a 78-yard catch just 16 seconds later to secure the win for Bowling Green. Falcons quarterback James Knapke was named the MVP of the game.
Appalachian State beat Ohio in the 2015 Camellia Bowl when Zach Matis hit a 23-yard field goal at the buzzer for a dramatic 31-29 win. The Bobcats led 24-7 heading into the fourth quarter but Appalachian State used a huge rally to pull out the unlikely win. Appalachian State running back Marcus Cox was the MVP.
The Mountaineers then won their second straight Camellia Bowl in 2016 with a victory over South Alabama. Appalachian State got another late field goal to win it as Michael Rubino hit a 35-yarder with 5:14 remaining for the 31-28 win. Quarterback Taylor Lamb was named the MVP.
The theatrics continued in the 2017 matchup with MTSU bolting out to a 28-10 third-quarter lead and holding on for the 35-30 win. The teams combined for over 800 yards of offense and the Blue Raiders won a bowl game for the first time since 2009.
In 2018, Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass hit a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give his team a thrilling 23-21 win over Eastern Michigan, continuing the theme of nail-biting finishes at the Camellia Bowl.
Most All-Time Wins at Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Appalachian State has had the most success at the Camellia Bowl, winning both of its appearances. While the Mountaineers have represented the Sun Belt well, South Alabama has not. The Jaguars are the only other team to appear in two contests and they’ve yet to post a victory, though they were right in the games until the end in both 2014 and 2016. Middle Tennessee became the first ‘outsider’ to appear in and win the Camellia Bowl with last year’s victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves, who were also making their initial appearance in the four-year old game. Georgia Southern joined the list of winners with the thrilling victory in 2018.
2019-20 College Bowl Games Betting Schedule
||LOCATION / TIME
|College Football Playoff
||Atlanta, GA / 4 PM
||No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
||Glendale, AZ / 8 PM
||No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
||CFP National Championship
||New Orleans, LA / 8 PM
|Selection Committee Bowl Games
||Arlington, TX / Noon
||No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 17 Memphis
||Miami Gardens, FL / 8 PM
||No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia
||Pasadena, CA / 5 PM
||No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
||New Orleans, LA / 8:45 PM
||No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor
|Other Bowl Games
||Nassau, Bahamas / 2 PM
||Buffalo vs. Charlotte
||Frisco, TX / 7:30 PM
||Kent State vs. Utah State
||Atlanta, GA / 12:00 PM
||Alcorn State vs. North Carolina A&T
||New Mexico Bowl
||Albuquerque, NM / 2 PM
||Central Michigan vs. San Diego State
||Orlando, FL / 2:30 PM
||Liberty vs. Georgia Southern
||Boca Raton Bowl
||Boca Raton, FL / 3:30 PM
||FAU vs. SMU
||Montgomery, AL / 5:30 PM
||Arkansas State vs. Florida International
||Las Vegas Bowl
||Las Vegas, NV / 7:30 PM
||No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington
||New Orleans Bowl
||New Orleans, LA / 9 PM
||No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB
||Tampa, FL / 2:30 PM
||Marshall vs. UCF
||Honolulu, HI / 8 PM
||BYU vs. Hawai'i
||Shreveport, LA / 4 PM
||Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (Fla.)
||Quick Lane Bowl
||Detroit, MI / 8 PM
||Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh
||Annapolis, MD / Noon
||North Carolina vs. Temple
||The Bronx, NY / 3:20 PM
||Michigan State vs. Wake Forest
||Houston, TX / 6:45 PM
||No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
||San Diego, CA / TBA
||No. 16 Iowa vs. No. 22 Southern California
||Phoenix, AZ / 10:15 PM
||Air Force vs. Washington State
||Camping World Bowl
||Orlando, FL / Noon
||No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
||First Responder Bowl
||University Park, TX / 12:30 PM
||Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan
||Music City Bowl
||Nashville, TN / 4 PM
||Louisville vs. Mississippi State
||Santa Clara, CA / TBA
||California vs. Illinois
||Charlotte, NC / Noon
||Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech
||El Paso, TX / 2 PM
||Arizona State vs. Florida State
||Tucson, AZ / 4:30 PM
||Georgia State vs. Wyoming
||San Antonio, TX / 7:30 PM
||No. 11 Utah vs. Texas
||Mephis, TN / 3:45 PM
||Kansas State vs. Navy
||Tampa, FL / 1 PM
||No. 12 Auburn vs. No. 18 Minnesota
||Orlando, FL / 1 PM
||No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan
||Birmingham, AL / 3 PM
||No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College
||Jacksonville, FL / 7 PM
||Indiana vs. Tennessee
||Idaho Potato Bowl
||Boise, ID / 3:30 PM
||Nevada vs. Ohio
||Armed Forces Bowl
||Fort Worth, TX / 11:30 AM
||Southern Miss vs. Tulane
||Mobile, AL / 7:30 PM
||Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Miami (Ohio)
2019 NCAA Football Schedule
NCAA Football Teams
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