Boca Raton Bowl
MARSHALL (12-1) VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (11-2)
Time: 3 p.m. PST. Location: Boca Raton, Fla. TV: ESPN.
The buzz: This one is essentially a showdown between the top Group of Five teams left out of a major bowl. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato is wrapping up his college career in his home state. Cato attended high school at Miami Central, setting several Miami-Dade County passing records. He has passed for 3,622 yards and 37 touchdowns, leading the Thundering Herd to their first 12-victory season since 1999 and first Conference USA championship in school history. Northern Illinois is coming off its fifth consecutive double-digit victory season and its third Mid-American Conference title in the last four seasons. Rod Carey’s team ranks among the top 10 in turnover margin at plus-12. The Huskies are looking for their first bowl victory since 2011.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
NAVY (7-5) VS. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-5)
Time: 6:30 p.m. Location: San Diego. TV: ESPN.
The buzz: The battle in the trenches will likely determine the winner, with two run-heavy offenses facing off. Navy has won five of its last six games, including against Army. The Midshipmen rely heavily on the run game, ranking No. 1 nationally in rushing yards per game (345.1). They also lead the nation in fewest penalties per game (2.3). Junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds leads the team in rushing (1,182 yards) and passing (826 yards), accounting for 27 touchdowns. San Diego State has leaned on tailback Donnel Pumphrey, who has 1,755 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. The Aztecs rank No. 30 nationally in rushing yards per game (218.6). Coach Rocky Long uses a 3-3-5 scheme that has helped the team rank No. 15 nationally in scoring defense (20.1 points given up per game).