By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — College football fans, get your DVRs ready.
The college football bowl season kicks off this Saturday, with Arizona taking on New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. That will be the first of 40 bowl games that take fans through the holiday season and into the new year.
That’s right, 40 bowl games, some of which feature teams with losing records.
Some might argue that’s far too many bowl games — and likely would not get much of an argument from anyone. However, so long as sponsors are willing to pony up the funds for bowl games and far-flung locales in an effort to bolster the local tourism industry, it’s unlikely to change any time soon.
With that being said, however, there are a least a half-dozen local reasons to be excited about the bowl season this year, as a Miami County high school graduate will be playing on the first day of bowl season — Covington graduate A.J. Ouellette and Ohio University will be playing Saturday in the Camellia Bowl — while another, Troy graduate and Oklahoma lineman Alex Dalton, is playing in the College Football Playoffs and has a chance to win a national title.
So for those of you looking for a reason — however big or small — to watch a college bowl games, here’s a look at the Miami County graduates will be be participating in bowl games this year (listed in chronological order):
5:30 pm. Saturday (ESPN)
Local player: A.J. Ouellette
Ouellette is a sophomore running back for Ohio University, which will be playing Appalachian State, a team perhaps best known for its stunning upset of Michigan in 2007.
After a record-setting career, Ouellette arrived at Ohio last summer as a walk-on, but had been put on scholarship before the start of his freshman season.
For the second year in a row, Ouellette led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 137 times for 642 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 11 receptions for 72 yards and, while filling in at middle linebacker due to an injury-depleted roster midway through the season, recorded three tackles.
8 p.m. Dec. 23 (ESPN)
Local players: Nick Fields and Gus Schwieterman
Bowling Green — featuring two local players — will take on Georgia Southern in this contest.
Fields, a Milton-Union graduate, is the back-up kicker for the Falcons. After redshirting in 2013 and not seeing any playing time last fall, Fields appeared in four games for the Falcons this season. While he did not attempt and field goals or extra points, he did kick off 12 times for a 45.2-yard average. He also was in on three tackles.
Schwieterman, a Bethel High School graduate, is a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle for the Falcons. After walking on three years ago, he was put on scholarship last year after starting nearly every game and being among the team leaders in several statistical categories.
This year, Schwieterman suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss the entire season.
3:30 p.m. Dec. 26 (ABC)
Local player: Wes Martin
Martin, a Milton-Union graduate and redshirt freshman offensive lineman for Indiana University, will be playing in historic Yankee Stadium as the Hoosiers take on Duke University.
Martin has appeared in all of Indiana’s games this year, starting about half of them, including the near-upset of then-No. 1 Ohio State in early October.
CFP Semifinal/Orange Bowl
4 p.m. Dec. 31 (ESPN)
Local player: Alex Dalton
Dalton, a Troy High School graduate, is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for No. 4 Oklahoma, which will take on No. 1 Clemson in the first of two College Football Playoff contests.
After redshirting last year, Dalton has appeared in nearly all of the Sooners’ games this year as a back-up offensive guard. He has seen significant playing time in several of the Sooners’ blowout victories.
Should Oklahoma knock off Clemson, Dalton and the Sooners would move on to College Football National Championship game Jan. 11, where they would play the winner of the Alabama vs. Michigan State semifinal.
1 p.m. Jan. 1 (ESPN)
Local player: Christopher Fong
Fong, a Troy High School graduate, is a walk-on senior for Ohio State, which will take on Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
While he has yet to receive college playing time on the defensive line, Fong has been on the Buckeyes’ roster the past two seasons, including last year’s national championship season.
This will be Fong’s final game as a Buckeye.
College Football Playoff National Championship Game
8:30 p.m. Jan. 11 (ESPN)
Local player: Dalton
Should Oklahoma defeat Clemson in the Orange Bowl, Dalton and the Sooners would advance to the title game, where they would play either Alabama or Michigan State. A loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl would end the season for Dalton and the Sooners.
Should the Sooners win the national title game, it would mark the second year in a row a Troy graduate has won a national championship ring.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong