Wednesday's college football bowl preview
Matchup: Central Michigan (7-5, 5-3 MAC) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 Conference USA), noon today, ESPN.
Line: Western Kentucky by 4.
Series record: Central Michigan, 1-0.
What's at stake: Back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since moving to the FBS level would be the reward for Western Kentucky. Central Michigan would post its best record since going 12-2 in 2009.
Key matchup: Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty vs. Central Michigan's defensive line. If the Chippewas don't get a rush going and let Doughty throw unbothered, the Hilltoppers will almost certainly put up a ton of points.
Players to watch: Central Michigan's QB Cooper Rush has a touchdown pass in eight straight games, though has been prone to give the ball away a bit too easily. Western Kentucky's WR Jared Dangerfield started hot (two TDs in the opener) and ended that way (five TD catches in his last three games).
Matchup: Rice (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) vs. Fresno State (6-7, 5-3 Mountain West), 8 p.m. today, ESPN
Line: Rice by 21/2.
Series record: Fresno State leads, 6-0
What's at stake: This might as well be called the "Turnaround Bowl." Rice and Fresno State both lost their opening three games and still made it to a bowl.
Key matchup: Rice defensive ends Brian Nordstrom and Zach Patt against Fresno State's pass protection. Nordstrom and Patt combined for 16 sacks this season as the Owls set a school record with 35 sacks this year. The Bulldogs ranked No. 103 in the FBS for sacks allowed.
Players to watch: Rice's QB Driphus Jackson needs 116 yards in the Hawaii Bowl to join Chase Clement (2007 and 2008) and Tommy Kramer (1976) as the only Rice players to go over 3,000 yards for a season. Fresno State's S Derron Smith, playing in his final game, needs three tackles to become the sixth player in school history with 300 tackles for his career.