NCF Nation: GMAC Bowl first take


December, 6, 2009
Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)
Jan. 6, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

This bowl could be considered the other championship.

Similar to what TCU and Boise State did in the Poinsettia Bowl a year ago, Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan and Sun Belt champion Troy will have a mini-championship in the GMAC Bowl to see which conference is better.

Both teams ran through their conference seasons undefeated. Troy captured its fourth consecutive title -- second outright -- while Central Michigan won its third MAC title in four seasons.

For Central Michigan, Troy will present the biggest challenge in terms of defending a truly multidimensional offense. The Trojans excel in both the run and the pass behind quarterback Levi Brown and running back Shawn Southward. Troy’s total offense ranks third in the country with 478.50 yards per game and the passing game ranks fourth. Brown has passed for more than 300 yards seven times this season and more than 400 three times.

Central Michigan’s defense has been tough this season, limiting teams to 329.69 yards per game and just 17.23 points per game.

The biggest concern for Troy will be stopping dual-threat quarterback Dan LeFevour, who is in the midst of one of his most complete seasons as a Chippewa. He’s broken several MAC and school passing records and in the MAC championship he broke the FBS record for overall touchdowns. This season, he accounted for 41 of his team’s 54 touchdowns.

Posted by's Graham Watson

Jan. 6, 8 p.m., (ESPN)

Both Tulsa and Ball State were picked to win their respective conferences and both fell short. For Ball State, its loss to Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game cost the Cardinals a perfect season. Tulsa, which started the season 8-0, lost three of its final five games.

Now it's a matter of which team can rebound.

Both of these offenses are similar in the fact that both have potent passing games, can diversify with the running game and can score quickly. Both Tulsa quarterback David Johnson and Ball State quarterback Nate Davis rank in the top 15 in total offense and both teams rank in the top 11 in total offense.

So what's going to set these teams apart?

As both teams learned in their respective championships, defense and turnovers are the way to victory. Ball State has the slightly better of the two defenses -- allowing 347.92 yards per game as opposed to 391.15 yards per game by Tulsa -- and these teams have played similarly potent offenses. But Ball State has gained 23 turnovers as opposed to losing 15, and Tulsa has gained 22 as opposed to losing 30.