Why to watch: It’s the first bowl game of the year, and it will determine the de facto HBCU national champion.
Whom to watch: North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson became the first Aggies player since 1997 to be named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. He also leads the MEAC with 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. His strip sack clinched the Aggies’ 20-17 upset of Jacksonville State, and he had seven tackles and one sack at a 28-23 win over FBS foe East Carolina.
Motivating factor for North Carolina A&T: The Aggies can acquire their second straight HBCU national name. They defeated Grambling 21-14 in the Celebration Bowl in 2017.
Motivating variable for Alcorn State: The Braves are looking for their first HBCU national championship since 2014 and their first under coach Fred McNair, the brother of former Alcorn State and NFL quarterback Steve McNair.
Prediction: North Carolina A&T 27, Alcorn State 24
Score: Alcorn State 22, North Carolina A&T 24 New Mexico Bowl Presented by Progressive: North Texas vs. Utah State (Branch Field in Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Why to watch: It would have been a matchup of two of the hottest coaches in the Group of 5: North Texas’ Seth Littrell vs. Utah State’s Matt Wells. But Wells left for Texas Tech, and interim coach Frank Maile will lead the Aggies in their seventh bowl at eight seasons.
Whom to watch: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love completed 65.8 percent of the passes for 3,208 yards, 28 touchdowns and 5 interceptions while running for six more scores.
Motivating factor for North Texas: The Mean Green can win 10 games for the first time in school history and acquire their first bowl game since 2013.
Motivating variable for Utah State: The Aggies will attempt to maintain their high-scoring offense going without Wells. They averaged 47.2 points per match, which was third in the FBS and shirts among Group of 5 programs.
Prediction: Utah State 42, North Texas 31
Score: Utah State 52, North Texas 13
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