Bowl preview: Alabama meets Michigan in Citrus, Auburn takes on Minnesota in Outback, UAB faces Appalachian State in New Orleans

Bowl preview: Alabama meets Michigan in Citrus, Auburn takes on Minnesota in Outback, UAB faces Appalachian State in New Orleans
Auburn's Zakoby McClain gets a pick 6 in the second half of the 2019 Iron Bowl, one of many dazzling plays by both teams in a down-to-the-wire thriller. Auburn's victory resulted in a Citrus Bowl appearance for Alabama and an Outback Bowl trip for the Tigers. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Alabama and Auburn will spend the bowl season in the Sunshine State – the Tide in Orlando and the Tigers in Tampa – while UAB heads down to the Big Easy for its postseason contest.

While the state’s big three leave the friendly confines, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile will again play host to bowl action. Here’s the lineup:

Alabama meets Michigan in Citrus Bowl

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a touchdown against Western Carolina. The Tide will face No. 14 Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. (Crimson Tide Photos)

For just the fifth time in the history of the two storied programs, the Crimson Tide, No. 13 in the final College Football Playoff ranking, will face off with the No. 14 Wolverines in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game will be at noon Central on Jan. 1 on ABC.

The Alabama-Michigan series, which dates back to 1988, is tied up, 2-2. Alabama won 41-14 in the most recent matchup between the two teams at the 2012 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas.

The Tide missed the College Football Playoff for the first time since its inception. Alabama is making its third Citrus Bowl appearance and is 2-0 in its prior two trips. Even with a victory, this will be tied for the fewest wins in a season in Nick Saban’s past nine seasons with the Crimson Tide.

Saban is 11-5 in postseason games at Alabama. Tickets are available online.

Auburn faces Minnesota at Outback Bowl

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix scores in the first half of the Iron Bowl. The Tigers will play for a 10th win against Minnesota in the Outback Bowl. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

The No. 12 Tigers will meet the No. 18 Golden Gophers in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa. It will be the first match-up in history for the two teams.

Minnesota won 10 games in the regular season for the first time since 1905. It will also be the first-ever appearance by the Golden Gophers in the Outback Bowl and the fifth appearance for Auburn.

“We are excited about returning to the Outback Bowl for the first time in five years to face a very good Minnesota team out of the Big Ten Conference,” said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.  “I’ve been fortunate to make two previous trips to the Outback Bowl. Jim McVay and everyone associated with the bowl make it a first-class experience for our players and fans. We have the best fans in college football and I look forward to them joining us on New Year’s Day as we try to win our tenth game of the season and send our seniors out on a high note.”

The Outback Bowl will be played at noon Central on Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium. Tickets are available through the Auburn ticket website, www.AUBTix.com.

UAB will play Appalachian State

UAB players celebrate their Western Division Conference USA championship. The team is going bowling again, this year in New Orleans. (UAB Athletics)

No. 20 Appalachian State is next up for the UAB Blazers as the teams are set to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The game will be nationally televised on ESPN and kicks off at 8 p.m. Central.

UAB (9-4), the 2019 Conference USA West Division champion, takes on the Mountaineers (12-1) who claimed the Sun Belt Championship.

This is UAB’s third consecutive bowl game since returning to action in 2017. The Blazers look to capture their second straight bowl victory after winning the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl last season.

The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl marks the first time UAB and Appalachian State will meet on the gridiron. The Blazers are 13-11 all-time against teams from the Sun Belt.

Tickets for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl are on sale and season ticket holders can secure seats by logging into their online account here. Fans without 2019 season tickets can purchase their bowl tickets here. Seat locations will be allocated based on the Blazer Boosters Priority Point System.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl pits Boston College, No. 21 Cincinnati

Boston College (6-6) and the University of Cincinnati (10-3)  will meet in the 2020 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

The game, which pits the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Eagles against the American Athletic Conference’s Bearcats, will kick off at 2 p.m. Central at historic Legion Field. It will be aired on ESPN and Red Voice Radio.

The two teams have previously played seven times, with Boston College holding a 4-3 advantage. Their last meeting was in 1997.

Boston College is led by Interim Head Coach Rich Gunnell. This will be Boston College’s first appearance in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl. The Eagles last played in Birmingham in 1984 when they defeated the University of Alabama 38-31.

“We are excited for the challenge to face a nationally ranked Cincinnati team in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl,” said Boston College interim head coach Rich Gunnell. “It is important for us as a program to end the season the right way for our seniors.”

Cincinnati is led by Luke Fickell, who is in his third year of coaching the Bearcats. Cincinnati last played at the 2007 Birmingham Bowl against Southern Miss, defeating the Golden Eagles 31-21 at Legion Field.

“We are excited to continue our season in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl,” said head coach Luke Fickell. “Our focus is on getting our 11th win and sending our seniors out the right way. Perry Young, one of our captains, is from Birmingham, and it’s incredible he will be playing a home game while wearing the CPAW one final time.”

Tickets for the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl are on sale now. Ticket pricing will be $50 for East and West reserved sideline seating and $30 for general admission corner seats. For information on corporate ticket packages and branding opportunities, contact Mark Meadows at [email protected] or 205-733-3776, ext. 102.

Arkansas State, Florida International set for Camellia Bowl

Arkansas State University and Florida International University have been selected to play in the sixth annual Camellia Bowl at historic Cramton Bowl. The 2019 Camellia Bowl will be played on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 4:30 p.m. Central on ESPN.

Arkansas State (7-5, 5-3 Sun Belt) is one of five bowl-eligible teams for the Sun Belt Conference. ASU finished second in the Western Division behind Louisiana. The Red Wolves had the third-best overall record in the league, along with Georgia Southern and Georgia State. Arkansas State has one of the most prolific passing offenses in the nation.

ASU leads the Sun Belt Conference and ranks in the top 20 nationally in completion percentage and passing efficiency. ASU quarterback Layne Hatcher leads the Sun Belt Conference in completions percentage (.683), passing efficiency (173.5) and yards per completion (14.2).

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson has compiled a 46-30 (.605) record in six seasons as head coach. Under Anderson, ASU has had six straight winning seasons and made six straight bowl appearances.

Arkansas State is making its ninth straight bowl appearance and second Camellia Bowl appearance. ASU ties fellow Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State for the most Camellia Bowl appearances. Middle Tennessee defeated Arkansas State 35-30 in the 2017 Camellia Bowl. Overall, ASU is making its 10th all-time bowl appearance. Six of the 10 bowl appearances have been played in Alabama.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to play in a bowl game for the ninth straight year,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson.  “The Camellia Bowl offers a great experience for our players and the hospitality shown by Montgomery is fantastic.  We’re looking forward to getting back on the field for another game with the opportunity to finish our season strong.”

Florida International (6-6, 3-5 Conference USA) is one of eight bowl-eligible teams from Conference USA. The Golden Panthers led C-USA (3rd FBS) in punt returns this season. FIU averaged 20.8 yards per return this season. Dimitry Prophete and Maurice Alexander both have punt-return TDs this season.

FIU head coach Butch Davis has compiled a 23-15 (.605) record in three seasons with the Golden Panthers. Davis has posted a 160-102 (.638) record in 13 seasons at Miami, North Carolina and FIU. Davis will be coaching in his 10th bowl game in 13 seasons as head coach.

Florida International is making its third straight bowl appearance and fifth in program history. FIU defeated Toledo 35-32 in the 2018 Bahamas Bowl.

“We’re thrilled for our team to play in the Camellia Bowl – which is a school-record third straight bowl game – and get the chance for our team to cap the season on a high note,”  FIU head coach Butch Davis said. “Arkansas State has a great football program and are led by a coach that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”

Tickets to the sixth annual Camellia Bowl are $30 for reserved seating.

Miami (Ohio) plays Louisiana in the LendingTree Bowl

Fresh off wrapping up a MAC Championship, the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks learned they will play the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in the LendingTree Bowl in Mobile. This is the first year the bowl has been under LendingTree’s sponsorship after operating under previous names including the Dollar General Bowl and the GoDaddy Bowl.

The 2019 LendingTree Bowl kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Central on Jan. 6, 2020. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Miami (8-5) is fresh off its first conference championship since 2010 after defeating Central Michigan 26-21 in Detroit on Saturday. The RedHawks’ Sun Belt opponent, Louisiana (10-3), lost its conference championship Saturday, falling 45-38 to Appalachian State after nearly overcoming a 21-point deficit.

After finishing bowl eligible at 6-6 last season, Chuck Martin’s team was not selected for a bowl. This will be the RedHawks’ first postseason appearance since 2016, when the team started 0-6 before winning its final six games.

Miami lost 17-16 to Mississippi State in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The last time the RedHawks won a bowl game was their conference championship season in 2010, when they upended Middle Tennessee in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile.

The bowl invitation marks the second straight bowl appearance for the Cajuns under second-year head coach Billy Napier.

Miami (Ohio) leads 2-0 in the teams’ previous matchups. The last meeting between the two was in 1991, when the Redhawks defeated the Cajuns 27-14.

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