Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
Tuesday – December 23 – 5:00 pm
FAU Football Stadium – Boca Raton
How did they get here?
The Thundering Herd of Marshall will represent Conference USA after winning the East division and conference championship and crushing all but one of their opponents this season by an average margin of over three touchdowns per game. They’ll welcome the Huskies of Northern Illinois who took home first in the West division and conference title in the MAC and are riding high on a seven game winning streak.
There was a moment in time this season when the Thundering Herd were cruising through the schedule unbeaten, leaving many to wonder if they should be considered for the first ever College Football Playoff. After starting out 11-0, that talk was laid to rest when they suffered a heart breaking loss at the hands of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 67-66 in overtime. Even still, they’ll bring the nation’s #1 ranked offense that showed supreme balance throughout the season amassing 3,741 yards through the air and 3,583 on the ground. Senior quarterback Rakeem Cato originally hails from Miami Central and will look to finish his career on a high note in a homecoming of sorts.
The Huskies hope to atone for last year’s season ending demise that saw them start out 12-0 only to lose their conference championship game to Bowling Green and cap that off with a loss to Utah State in the Poinsetta Bowl. They appear to be well on their way to achieving that fresh off of getting revenge over the Falcons 51-17 to claim the MAC trophy. They also proved they are capable of winning tight games all year long with six of their victories coming by ten points or less. Northern Illinois will attempt to ground and pound their way to success after piling up the 9th most rushing yards in the country on the season. Conversely they rank outside the top 70 in both rushing and passing defense and will surely have their hands full with the potent Marshall offense.
Prediction: Vegas has Northern Illinois between a nine to ten point underdog and an over/under of 65. The tendency is to project a letdown by the Thundering Herd who have to be disappointed that they aren’t playing in a bigger name bowl. However they have too much fire power on offense for the Huskies to be able to stop. Plus their head coach is named Doc Holliday and ‘tis the season, so give me Marshall to roll 45-27 in this year’s Boca Raton Bowl.