Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl Preview: Florida International Golden Panthers (8-4 SU 6-6 ATS) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-6 SU 5-7 ATS) Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl NCAAF Tropicana Field St. Petersburg, Florida 8PM ET Tuesday December 20, 2011 on ESPN
by Jason Green, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FIU -4.5/Marsh +4.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5
Florida International had a solid season and come into this Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl winners of their last 3 games of the season. They are the favorite in this game facing a Marshall team that needed to win their last 2 games to become bowl eligible, but should they be? Yeah, FIU had 2 more wins and finished above .500, but they did not face one ranked team this season while the Thundering Herd faced 3 ranked teams. Also, FIU comes from a weaker conference, as the Sun Belt is not as strong as Conference USA.
The Golden Panthers may have some home field advantage in this game since it will be held in Florida.
To finish off the regular season Marshall won a 34-27 thriller in OT over East Carolina and Florida International beat Middle Tennessee State 31-18.
FIU does not have a great offense, but a decent one and one of the main reasons they are the favorite is that they have a solid defense. The Golden Panthers rank 69th in the nation in passing yards per game and are led by QB Wesley Carroll, who passed for 2,224 yards with 14 TD this season. One major concern for FIU is that there leading receiver and kick return stud T.Y. Hilton is banged up and may miss this game. If he does it will hurt the Golden Panthers, but if he can go he and Carroll will play well against a Marshall pass defense that has struggled this season and ranks 100th in the nation.
Kedrick Rhodes (1,121 yards 8 TD) paces the ground game for FIU and he averaged 5 yards per carry this season. He is banged up, but should play. Still, Marshall defended the run better to end the season and he will not have a big game.
The Florida International offensive line may have one goal in this game and that is to contain Marshall DL Vinny Curry. He is the big star, and may be the only one, on D for the Thundering Herd and this season he racked up 11 QB sacks and had the 2nd most tackles for losses in the nation.
On defense FIU is better defending the run than the pass, which is a good for the Marshall passing attack led by Rakeem Cato. Both of his main targets in WR Aaron Dobson (42 rec 587 yards 10 TD) and WR Antavious Wilson (29 rec 462 yards 1 TD) averaged over 14 yards per catch on the season. Cato passed for 341 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT in the OT win over East Carolina and I look for him to have another big game against FIU.
The Golden Panthers rank 23rd in the nation on run defense and they will be facing the Marshall RB duo of Travon Van and Tron Martinez, who each had over 500 rushing yards this season. These guys will help Cato out, but not have big games on the ground.
Marshall has an Over/Under record of 5-7 on the season with Florida International having an Over/Under record of 3-8-1.
Marshall is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Bowl games and have an Over record of 8-3 in their last 11 games as an underdog.
Florida International is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win, only e 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite, and they have an Under record of 3-0-1 in Golden Panthers last 4 non-conference games.
Jason’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: FIU is favored and had a good season, but I think Marshall is simply a better team. 3 of the 4 losses by the Golden Panthers this season came against teams that finished above them in their conference. Even with this game being held in the Sunshine State I have to go with Marshall to not only cover the 4.5-point spread, but also I think they will win convincingly.
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