December, 2024 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

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December, 2024


Montgomery, Alabama

Camellia Bowl Notebook

Posted December 26, 2022
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Buffalo and Georgia Southern will meet in the ninth annual Camellia Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery. The 2022 Camellia Bowl is the first not to be played on a Friday or Saturday. This Camellia Bowl playing date (Dec. 27) is the latest in history.

Buffalo and Georgia Southern are former Camellia Bowl champions. Georgia Southern defeated Eastern Michigan 23-21 in the 2018 Camellia Bowl. Tyler Bass, who kicks for the Buffalo Bills, drilled a 40-yard field goal to give the Eagles the walk-off win. Buffalo defeated Marshall 17-10 in the 2020 Camellia Bowl.  Kevin Marks scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:09 left in the game.

The winner of the 2022 Camellia Bowl will join Appalachian State as the only two-time champion in the bowl’s 9-year history. Appalachian State won back-to-back Camellia Bowl championships in 2015-16. ASU defeated Ohio 31-29 in 2015 and Toledo 31-28 in 2016.

The game will be televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 11:02 a.m. (CT) with Drew Carter (play-by-play), Aaron Murray (analyst) and Lauren Sisler (sideline reporter). Jeff Graham is the producer and Kevin Shank is the director.

The game will also air on the Bowl Season Radio Network with J.D. Byars (play-by-play) and Colin Pilcher (analyst).

Looking for some fan support

The Bulls could use fan support from any local football fans attending the ninth annual Camellia Bowl.

The Bulls took a flight out of Buffalo 12 hours ahead of schedule, escaping the area just before it was hit by the worst winter storm in the city’s history.

A plane carrying the team’s band, cheerleaders and fans was scheduled to depart on Friday afternoon, then rescheduled for Monday as the airport was closed by blizzard conditions. The severe weather conditions left everyone confined to their homes — even the team’s radio crew cannot drive to the stadium to broadcast the same remotely — leaving the Bulls as a team without fans on Tuesday afternoon at Cramton Bowl.

“Of course, we want all of our fans here,” Buffalo safety Marcus Fuqua said, “but at the end of the day, we just have to play. We’re going to play the game, it’s going to be for them, and we’ve got them in the back of our minds. They can’t make it down, but we know that they love us. They’re going to be watching from home and just because they’re not here physically, we know they’re there in spirit.”

Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist, whose wife and children remained in Buffalo, opened his Friday press conference with an acknowledgment of his fans.

“I certainly want to recognize all of our families, friends, supporters that are back in Buffalo,” Linguist said. “We certainly have them in our hearts and in our minds as they go through a tough time right now dealing with the weather.”

Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton also had Buffalo on his mind when he stepped to the podium.

“I’d be remiss in not sending out our thoughts and prayers to the city of Buffalo and what they’re going through right now in their community under severe weather and hardship right now,” Helton said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Teaching old linemen new tricks

When first-year coach Clay Helton elected to scrap the Eagles’ option style for a wide-open passing attack, he hoped his offensive line could make the adjustment.

That group included a pair of sixth-year guys (left tackle Brian Miller and right tackle Caleb Kelly) and a pair of fifth-year players (center Logan Langemeier and right guard Khalil Crowder) penciled in as starters, along with a youngster — freshman Pichon Wimbley — that would take over the starting position at left guard.

Through the first eight games of the season, they allowed just two sacks. For the year, they have only given up seven sacks.

“When you look across that line, four of the five kids have played a significant amount of ball,” Helton said. “I credit (offensive line coach) Richard Owens and the job he’s done with the offensive line. When you’re talking about throwing the ball 580 times in a season and you only have seven sacks, you’re doing something special. Those guys bought into it. You look at the opportunity to go to the next level; the next level is a passing league. So to be able to have a system that shows them as pass protectors, they really welcomed it. I am really proud of the work that they’ve been able to accomplish. They went from an offensive line that was much maligned to one of the best offensive lines in the country this year.”

Power 5 Success

The Sun Belt Conference had four Power 5 wins this season. Old Dominion, Appalachian State, Marshall and Georgia Southern all posted Power 5 wins.

In week one, Old Dominion defeated Virginia Tech, 20-17. The next week, the Sun Belt made some college football noise with three wins over Power 5 teams, Appalachian State knocked off Texas A&M 17-14; Marshall beat Notre Dame 26-21; and Georgia Southern outscored Nebraska 45-42.

“Yeah, it was one of the more intriguing reasons I was so excited about the job at Georgia Southern because I truly believed the Sun Belt was one of the premier Group of Five conferences out there,” Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton said.

The league is only going to get better with the recent additions of FCS powerhouse James Madison, Coastal Carolina, Southern Miss and Old Dominion.

“It’s a credit to Commissioner (Keith) Gill and our presidents,” Helton said. “As other conferences were breaking apart, you look at the Sun Belt and they were adding. Nobody left. They had four unbelievable quality teams (joining the conference) and they consistently not only competed but won games within the Power Five this year.”

The Sun Belt Conference is 4-1 during the 2022 bowl season with two games to be played on Tuesday.

“It is an extremely competitive league on both sides (divisions),” Helton said. “You have to bring your ‘A’ game each and every week or you’re going to get your butt beat. And it’s one of those things that you look up and now you look at the seven bowl teams that are playing and the job they’re doing right now. And we look forward to representing our league and the quality league that it is.”