- FIU -4, 49
- @ JustBet
- FIU -9
- @ 3DW
It has been quite a journey for Marshall just to reach a bowl game. The Thundering Herd had to win their last two games just to become bowl eligible at 6-6. After attaining that goal, Marshall was anxious to play in this specific location since 30 percent of its roster is from the state of Florida. Head coach Doc Holliday and his offensive staff deserves credit for adjusting their offense on the run this season. The Herd (7-5 ATS) were only scoring 13.2 points per game in their initial seven contests (albeit, stiff competition). Marshall decided to better utilize the skills of 5-11 quarterback Rakeem Cato, by creating a moving pocket, to give Cato better downfield vision and his ability to extend plays. This ended up also opening up the running game for RBs Tron Martinez and Travon Van and the Herd scored 32.2 PPG the rest of the season.
Marshall’s defense did allow 30.2 PPG, but was more consistent in stopping the run than the pass. How the secondary plays could decide the outcome for a squad that is 4-16 ATS away from home after a game where they forced three or more turnovers.
Its good sign your program is headed the right direction when your first ever eight-win season is thought to be a mild disappointment after winning the conference the year before and dropping to fourth place this season. Florida International (8-4, 6-6 ATS) squeaked into the Beef ‘OBrady’s Bowl by virtue of the Big East not having enough teams with winning records to fulfill their post-season arrangements. That is just fine with coach Mario Cristobal. “All I know is that our guys have earned this,” Cristobal said. “They certainly have battled hard to get to this position.”
The most electrifying player on the field will be receiver T.Y. Hilton (64 catches and seven touchdowns), most likely catching passes from QB Wes Carroll, who briefly lost his job. Marshall has not protected the passer this season, which plays in the Panthers hands, after they registered a school record 34 sacks. FIU comes into this encounter 3-0 SU and ATS, but is 2-11 ATS when playing with two weeks or more off.
This is Florida International’s second straight bowler (1-0 SU and ATS), while Marshall is 6-2 SU and ATS after the regular season. The favorite has won and covered all three contests in St. Petersburg.