Military Bowl Primer: San Jose State vs. Bowling Green


San Jose State Spartans (10-2 overall, 5-1 WAC)

San Jose State enters the Military Bowl as one of the hottest teams in the nation, knocking off Louisiana Tech to finish the regular season winning six straight and recording the Spartans' first 10-win season since 1987. They finished the regular season ranked No. 24 in the AP and Coaches' Poll, as well as earning the first BCS ranking in program history. A bowl win, even without former coach Mike MacIntyre -- now the new coach at Colorado, would be a fitting end to a red-letter season for the Spartans.

At Their Best: San Jose State followed their best defensive performance of the season -- a 20-14 win over BYU -- with their best offensive performance of the season in the 52-43 win against Louisiana Tech. Somewhere between the season-high 610 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs and the three forced turnovers against BYU you will find the best San Jose State has to offer.

At Their Worst: San Jose State and Utah State were the only teams in the WAC to average less than 400 yards allowed per game on the season, but when the two teams met the Aggies had no trouble moving the ball on the Spartans' defense. Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns while Chuckie Keeton threw for three more as the Aggies took an early lead on the rest of the WAC en route to a conference title.

Headliner: The San Jose State passing attack, led by junior college transfer David Fales at quarterback, leads the nation in completion percentage. Fales finished the regular season completing 72.1 percent of his passes for 3,789 yards, 31 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions. The offense gets a boost from junior wide receiver Noel Grigsby, the receiving end of 1,173 yards and nine touchdowns, but the Spartans would be a very different team without Fales under center.

Bowling Green Falcons (8-4 overall, 6-2 MAC)

The prospects for Bowling Green making the postseason looked grim after a 1-3 start, but coach Dave Clawson led an impressive turnaround as the Falcons finished the regular season winning seven of their final eight contests to match their best finish since 2007. Bowling Green's success was powered by a streak of impressive defensive performance in conference play, eventually finishing the season with a defense that ranked in the Top 10 nationally in total defense (289.7 yards per game), pass defense (173.0 yards per game), and scoring (15.8 points per game). On the other side of the ball the Falcons are led by third year starting quarterback Matt Schilz and running back Anthon Samuel, who already ranks 15th in school history with 1,810 career rushing yards as a sophomore.

At Their Best: Aside from the season-opening scare they handed Florida, Bowling Green's best performance of the season came in a 26-14 win at Ohio. The Falcons' defense held Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton to a season-low 145 yards passing and -9 net rushing yards while Samuel ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

At Their Worst: Considering the way both seasons finished, Bowling Green's 37-0 loss at Virginia Tech in September has to be the head scratcher in the 8-4 season. It was the third loss in that 1-3 start, with only a 21-13 victory against Idaho in the win column. The Falcons' touted defense held strong early against the Hokies, but gave up three touchdowns in the final ten minutes of the first half and lost control of the game.

Headliner: When Bowling Green is on defense, keep your eye on No. 91, senior defensive tackle Chris Jones. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year ranks fourth in the nation in sacks (12.5) and ninth in tackles for loss (19.0), and has recorded at least one sack in eight of 12 games. He currently is second on the Bowling Green career sacks list, trailing Kevin O'Brien (1989-92) by just three sacks heading into the bowl game.

David Fales leads all FBS quarterbacks with a 72.1 completion percentage on the season. (US Presswire)

Military Bowl

When: Thursday Dec. 27, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN

Where: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

Weird: The Military Bowl will be the first-ever meeting between Bowling Green and San Jose State. It also is a meeting that pits two of the most impressive program turnarounds in the country, as both teams combined for just three victories two years ago.

Line: San Jose State -7

Prediction: Bowling Green seemingly has has the intangibles advantage, still under the leadership of coach Dave Clawson while San Jose State will be coached by defensive coordinator Kent Baer. The Spartans have already hired Ron Caragher from FCS San Diego to take MacIntyre's position, but this year's team should be prepared to perform unaffected by the coaching transition. While Bowling Green's tough defense will keep San Jose State below their 35.3 points per game average, but not be able to generate enough offense to compliment the stops. You give David Fales enough possessions, he will find a way to get points.

San Jose State 24, Bowling Green 20

For all of the dates, times, ticket and viewing info for all 35 games; check out the Bowl Schedule page

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CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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