Marshall (8-4) vs Central Florida (9-3)
When: Monday, December 23rd 2019
Where: Raymond James Stadium,
Time: 2:30 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Central Florida -17.5/58.5
Former conference foes will battle each other in this year’s edition of the Gasparilla Bowl from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, as the Central Florida Golden Knights take on the Marshall Thundering Herd on Monday afternoon. In the 12-year history of the Gasparilla/Beef O’Brady’s/St. Petersburg Bowl, both Marshall and UCF have made three appearances each, but this will be the first against each other. Marshall has been almost automatic in its Bowl history, going 12-2 (.857) all-time for the best winning percentage in history (min. 7 games) and will be playing for the second straight season after beating South Florida 38-20 last December. They also has wins over UConn (16-10 in 2015) and Florida International (20-10 in 2011) in this game. An even better stat is that current head coach Doc Holliday is 6-0 SU and ATS in Bowl games at Marshall. The Golden Knights are back here for the first time since 2014 (a 34-27 loss to N.C. State) and are taking a step down in competition after playing SEC teams each of the last two bowl games. UCF moved to the American Athletic Conference in 2013, but they were regular rivals as co-members of the Mid-American (2002-04) and Conference USA (2005-12) with Marshall. They played annually during those 11 seasons from 2002-12 with the Herd winning the first three before the Golden Knights took the last eight, including 54-17 in 2012.
The Marshall defense allows 23.1 points a game, but they are good at stopping the run (134.2), ranking 34th in that category and have two linebackers that have recorded over 100 tackles on the season in Tavante Beckett (114) and Omari Cobb (107). The offense scores only 25.8 a game (88th) but they do average 195.7 yards on the ground behind Brenden Knox (1,284, 11 TDs). Quarterbacked Isaiah Green has 14 touchdowns to nine interceptions while averaging 212.8 yards total offense per game and his favorite target is tight end Armani Levias (43 catches, 486 yards, 3 TDs). Marshall is just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
We know the Golden Knights’ offense is good, but the defense isn’t too shabby either. The unit ranks 34th overall (344.8) and allow less than 200 yards a game through the air. Safety Richie Grant (68 total tackles, eight passes defensed) was a first-team all-conference selection on a defense which ranked second in the AAC in scoring (22.8). The offense under second-year coach Josh Heupel is ranked fourth in the country at 536.6 yards a game and sixth in points (43.0). Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel has 27 touchdowns to only seven interceptions on the season and has a terrific wideout in Gabriel Davis (72 receptions-1,241 yards-12 TDs) – a first-team All-AAC member.
This is the largest point spread of all the Bowl games this season, but I expect it to be closer than what the oddsmakers think. Holliday somehow gets his kids up for these bowl games. Just look at his record at Marshall in these situations – 6-0 SU and ATS. Central Florida is the better team playing closer to home, but Marshall will keep this respectable.
Pick: Marshall +17.5 (Jay Cooper’s Free Bowl Picks)
Knights are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. CUSA.
Knights are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game.
Knights are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Knights are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
Knights are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
Knights are 37-16 ATS in their last 53 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
Knights are 16-7 ATS in their last 23 games on grass.
Knights are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Knights are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
Knights are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games as a favorite.
Knights are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as a favorite.
Knights are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
Thundering Herd are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 bowl games.
Thundering Herd are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 Bowl games.
Thundering Herd are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
Thundering Herd are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in December.
Thundering Herd are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games on grass.
Thundering Herd are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games as an underdog.
Thundering Herd are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
Thundering Herd are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
Thundering Herd are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 6-1 in Knights last 7 games on grass.
Over is 5-1 in Knights last 6 games following a ATS win.
Over is 4-1 in Knights last 5 games in December.
Over is 11-4 in Knights last 15 vs. CUSA.
Under is 8-3 in Knights last 11 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 5-2 in Knights last 7 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Under is 12-5 in Knights last 17 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 4-0 in Thundering Herd last 4 games on grass.
Over is 5-1 in Thundering Herd last 6 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 4-1 in Thundering Herd last 5 games in December.
Over is 4-1 in Thundering Herd last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
Over is 10-3 in Thundering Herd last 13 games following a ATS loss.
Over is 20-6 in Thundering Herd last 26 non-conference games.
Over is 6-2 in Thundering Herd last 8 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
Over is 6-2 in Thundering Herd last 8 games as an underdog.
Under is 5-2 in Thundering Herd last 7 neutral site games.
Underdog is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
Knights are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 meetings.
Road team is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
Knights are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Marshall.
Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Marshall.