The GMAC Bowl gets a new name - the GoDaddy.com Bowl - but it retains its MAC and Sun Belt Conference matchup. The 12th annual edition features Miami (Ohio) and Middle Tennessee.
The Miami RedHawks are the MAC Champions, finishing 9-4 in Michael Haywood's second season at the helm after going 1-11 a year ago. That turnaround drew enough attention to Haywood that he landed the job as the new head coach at Pittsburgh where he would replace Dave Wannstedt who was forced to step aside. However, Haywood was jailed on New Year's Eve on domestic violence charges and Pitt fired him on New Year's Day.
Haywood's arrest came on the same day that Miami hired its new head coach, Don Treadwell, the offensive coordinator for Michigan State. Defensive backs coach Lance Guidry will guide Miami in the bowl game.
MTSU is the No. 3 team out of the Sun Belt. The Blue Raiders went 6-6, far below the preseason expectations of most observers. However, dual-threat QB Dwight Dasher was suspended for the first four games and Middle Tennessee was slow in finding consistency on offense, even after he returned. The Blue Raiders needed a 3-game season-ending winning streak just to become bowl eligible.
The RedHawks bring an 6-2 bowl record into the GoDaddy.com Bowl, but this is their first appearance since 2004. Miami's only other visit to Mobile, Alabama came in 2003 when it beat Louisville 49-28.
Middle Tennessee is playing in its third bowl game in history and looking for back-to-back wins after defeating Southern Miss 42-32 in last year's New Orleans Bowl. The Red Raiders lost to Central Michigan in the 2006 Motor City Bowl, now known as the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
This is the first meeting between these two teams.
CollegeFootballPoll.com's Congrove Computer Rankings (a.k.a. CCR Top 120) give No. 70 Middle Tennessee a 1.72-point advantage over No. 49 Miami. The computer was 6-6 in forecasting the winner of MTSU games this season, but is 63-31 over the last 8 years. It was just 4-7 against the spread this season, but 49-40 since 2003. The computer was 7-5 straight up with Miami this season and is 73-21 since 2003. It 5-7 against the spread with the RedHawks in 2010, but 52-40 ATS since 2003. (Such information is tracked for the sole purpose of recording the computer's accuracy in picking games and ranking teams. It is not intended for gambling purposes).
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN on Thursday, January 6 at 8:00 p.m. (ET) from 40,646-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.