Thursday 12/20 at 7:00pm CT on ESPN
Marshall (8-4, 119 SOS)
Marshall defense is the star of this team, 21st overall, 13th against the run, and 32nd versus the pass. The key is for USF to force the ball in to the air. If Marshall lets the Bulls backfield get going, it will be hard to slow USF down.
Offensively, Marshall has an outstanding wide receiver named Tyre Brady, who will be in the NFL. Brady could ignore this game in prep for the draft but, luckily for Marshall, he understands the importance to the school and football program. Tyler King started the season at RB but got hurt in October and hasn’t returned since. Bringing him back into the fold could be key for a victory.
USF (7-5, 92 SOS)
USF has had a tale of two seasons. The Bulls started off with 7 straight wins, with 6 of those coming versus teams ranking 103 or lower. After being ranked and undefeated they lost 5 straight, and all by double digits.
Sterling Gilbert, USF OC, left to take a head coaching job. He’s a talented coach who will be missed in this game. Jordan Cronkite will lead the team in the backfield and will be complimented by Johnny Ford, who is a speedy, undersized back. Blake Barnett will start at QB for this game. His story is an interesting one, starting at Alabama. He actually was named their starter a couple years ago before being benched for Jalen Hurts. For whatever reason he’s never put it together, which is a shame considering the talent at the WR position for the Bulls. Maybe the extra time will allow the team to call friendlier plays for his arm talent.
Best Bet: This will essentially be a home game for USF, which I’m not sure what that will do for them in this type of game. Marshall fans should show up, to an extent, since it’s a destination bowl game. Coaching wise, I love what Marshall’s Doc Holliday has done. He’s 5-0 straight up and against the spread. It’s not a mystery that certain coaches are better at bowl prep than others. We should see Marshall move the ball on the ground setting up Tyre Brady to show off his skill. Marshall -2.5.