Bowl Early Preview

Perhaps one of the most fascinating storylines that will emerge in the weeks leading up to the Bowl in Mobile, Ala., will be the divergence of paths taken by Middle Tennessee and Miami (Ohio).

Miami was coming off one of its worst seasons in school history posting just one win in 2009 and projected to finish last in the MAC's East Division.

Middle Tennessee on the other hand was coming off a 10-win season that featured a win over Southern Miss in the 2009 New Orleans Bowl. Expectations were at a crescendo for the Blue Raiders with accolades being thrown its way by many including one of the most knowledgeable of all prognosticators, Phil Steele, who said Middle Tennessee would win 11 games.

However, when the 2010 season kicked off, it was Middle Tennessee – not Miami – that looked like a dysfunctional cast of motley crews. A four-game suspension of its star quarterback, Dwight Dasher, forced two signal callers on to the field that had never taken a snap in Division I competition. With a new coordinator, Middle Tennessee's offense looked downright lost and lacked an identity for much of the season.

By the time Dasher had returned and developed some continuity under offensive coordinator Mike Schultz's variation of the spread offense, three fourths of the season was over and Middle Tennessee was left with the nation's worst turnover margin and the prospect of experiencing its most dreadful season in over a decade.

In the final three games; however, the Blue Raider offense found some continuity with Schultz, ended its turnover problems, and knocked off the league's best team to become bowl eligible.

Miami, despite the lack of expectations, started strong giving the Florida Gators a scare in Gainesville to open the season and won its next two games over Eastern Michigan and Colorado State. It's only other losses came to automatic qualifier conference teams Missouri and Cincinnati and a mid-season loss to Ohio before winning five straight to close out the campaign including a 26-21 win over 23rd ranked Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game.

The Bowl Committee did a nice job matching these two teams together. We will explain that in future editions as the game draws closer and analyze the match-up that's going to have both teams locking horns in a very well orchestrated decision to pit these two team's strengths and weaknesses against the other.

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