Leaving behind the winter blast that has covered most of the United States, Eastern Michigan and Old Dominion arrived in Nassau, Bahamas Monday afternoon to get ready for the 2016 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.
“It was one degree when we got on the plane this morning and 80 when we landed,” Eastern Michigan senior offensive lineman Darien Terrell said. “It is awesome to get to get to come down here in December, get away from the snow, and play our last game of the season in a tropical place.”
Both teams will not only be playing in their first Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, they have their eyes set on what would be a historic victory for each program. The Old Dominion Monarchs are set to play in the program’s first-ever bowl game, while the Eastern Michigan Eagles have broken a 29-year bowl-less streak.
The Monarchs rolled off a 9-3 overall record, behind a 7-1 Conference USA mark. Due to NCAA transition rules, 2016 was just the second year Old Dominion has been bowl eligible.
“I was just extremely excited just to come to the Bahamas to begin with, and with it being the first bowl game (in ODU history), it was really special,” Old Dominion senior quarterback David Washington said.
When the Eagles take the field at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium Friday, they will be participating in their first bowl game since 1987. The team’s 7-5 record was its first winning season since 1995 and the program has already accomplished its most wins since 1989.
“Twenty-nine years is a long time and our guys, badly, want to play well on Friday,” Eagles head coach Chris Creighton remarked. “There is no question about it. We have had a special year and you just want to finish on a high note.”
The two teams not only have a lot to look forward to on the field this week but also at the Atlantis Resort. Between the beach, water park and dolphin cove, the players will have plenty of time to enjoy some fun in the sun. But both teams understand there is a lot at stake in Nassau.
“Ultimately, it’s a business trip. Have fun, but not too much fun,” Monarchs senior defensive tackle Miles Fox noted. No late nights and focus on winning the game.”
“When we are doing football, we will be focused on football and when we are not, we will put our feet in the sand and enjoy the place,” Creighton added. “We have a mature group, who have been focused all year and I do not expect anything different.”
This is sure to be another successful week at the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.