The early signing period has come and gone, and the bowl season is upon us! The 2019 bowl games kick off this year in beautiful Nassau, Bahamas with the annual Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. We preview the 2019 Bahamas Bowl here to get you ready for the game.
This year’s matchup features two historic offenses in the Buffalo Bulls and the Charlotte 49ers. Both teams feature potent rushing attacks with plenty of options in the backfield. The Bulls and the 49ers alike are on a hot streak coming into the game after tumultuous starts to their respective seasons. Now, each program will try to do something neither has ever accomplished: win a bowl game.
2019 Bahamas Bowl Preview: Buffalo vs Charlotte
What: 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Who: Buffalo Bulls vs Charlotte 49ers
Where: Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
When: Friday, December 20, 2019, 2:00 pm EST
Buffalo comes into the game a young team that is finally finding it’s footing. At the end of 2018, the Bulls lost a lot of offensive production from a 10-win football team. This included their starting quarterback and top two receivers. As the 2019 campaign began, this group stumbled to a disappointing 2-4 start as they searched for their identity, particularly on offense. The season was further cast into doubt when starting quarterback Matt Meyers was lost for the season to an undisclosed upper-body injury in a loss to Miami(OH).
Jaret Patterson Show
Que Buffalo Sophomore running back Jaret Patterson. Behind their workhorse back, the Bulls have won five of their last six games to reach the postseason. Buffalo’s turnaround is in large part to the phenomenal encore season for the young back. Patterson was the MAC freshman of the year in 2018 with a 1,000+ yard season and 14 touchdowns. However, he was not about to suffer a sophomore slump, as he had only flashed his potential. Over the course of this season, he has accumulated 1,626 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns. Patterson is currently 4th in the nation in rushing, and his 31 career touchdowns are already second in school history. With four more scores, he would assume the top spot. The undersized, underappreciated young back is ready to run his way into the record books and the league.
Yeah so…Jaret Patterson went off today:
2 MAC records ?pic.twitter.com/82x99c1pH1
— Elite College Football (@EliteCollege_FB) November 29, 2019
On defense, the bulls lead the MAC in total defense. This is highlighted by a fierce front seven that can stop the run and create a tenacious pass rush. Opponents are averaging a mere 95.3 yards per game on the ground, which is good for fourth in the country. That is a true good-on-good matchup to watch where someone will have to win. The defensive line will create matchup problems for the 49ers. They have yet to surrender a 200-yard rushing game this season. Look for the Bulls to spend some quality time in the opponents’ backfield during their trip to Nassau.
Charlotte is on a similar trajectory as the Bulls. They also started the season with a disappointing 2-5 record. However, this young program was able to turn around their season to finish with five straight wins. Now, the young football program, established in 2013, is featured in its first bowl appearance. These players have already delivered the first winning season in program history. Now, they will attempt to be the first 8 win team in Charlotte’s young history.
The 49ers’ offense is led by another strong rushing attack. They lead the Conference USA with 213.3 rushing yards per game. Charlotte running back Ben LeMay leads this charge with 1,027 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He can also be a weapon in the passing game, with four receiving touchdowns this season. The 49ers, however, are much less one dimensional than their opponent. Sophomore quarterback Chris Reynolds provides a true dual-threat to their backfield. He has 2,366 passing yards and 21 touchdowns along with 757 rushing yards and another six touchdowns. Their balanced, multiple offense should apply unique pressure to the talented Bulls defense.
Defensively, Charlotte quietly has one of the best edge rushers in the nation in Alex Highsmith. Highsmith has 14 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2019. His burst off the edge has created fits for his opponents. His most impressive game came against Clemson. Despite being overmatched in a lopsided 52-10 loss, Highsmith made a name for himself as he kept Trevor Lawrence uncomfortable in the pocket all night and brought the quarterback down for a sack. At the end of the season, he was awarded for his efforts with an AP All-American selection. He will look to pad his stats and continue to impress in the Bahamas bowl.
.@CharlotteFTBL DE Alex Highsmith makes third-team AP All-American team. First 49ers player to make AP team.
— David Scott (@davidscott14) December 16, 2019
Both teams are hungry to be the team that brings the first bowl win to their respective programs. It has been a hot topic in the pregame interviews for both teams, so motivation shouldn’t be an issue.
— Bahamas Bowl (@TheBahamasBowl) December 19, 2019
It’s also intriguing that both teams will play similar styles on offense. Each time will look to establish the running game, control the clock, and force the opponent’s sophomore quarterback to beat them through the air. Both teams feature excellent defensive fronts that have the ability to challenge their rivals running game. Still, expect to see plenty of fireworks for the offenses.
While it’s hard to go against an elite talent like Buffalo’s Patterson, Charlotte has the ability to stretch the field with quarterback Chris Reynolds. Buffalo is very one dimensional on offense, relying heavily on Patterson and clock control. Charlotte can extend drives of their own, and I believe that will wear on the talented Buffalo defense. Add in the talented edge rusher Alex Highsmith, and I believe Charlotte will do just enough on defense to squeak out a close victory in a high scoring affair.