College Bowl Predictions: FIU Golden Panthers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd

FIU Golden Panthers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd
Tuesday, 12/20/11, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  FIU -4.5
Current Betting Line:  FIU -4
Opening Total:  50
Current Total:  48
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Marshall Thundering Herd are 6-3 SU all-time in bowl games

Florida International is set to play in the postseason for the second consecutive year in playing the Marshall Thundering Herd in the 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl inside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.  “At 8-4, we don’t only have the best record in school history, we have the best record in the state of Florida,” commented Golden Panthers athletic director Pete Garcia.  The Golden Panthers definitely made a name for themselves when handing the Toledo Rockets a 34-32 loss in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl a year ago.  FIU is 8-12 ATS as a favorite over the last two-plus seasons.

The Golden Panthers will want to get the ball into wide receiver T.Y. Hilton’s hands, as he was named first-team All Sun Belt Conference, coming in with 3,443 career receiving yards and 24 receiving touchdowns.  Florida International will look to jump on Marshall early in this contest, holding opponents scoreless in the first quarter in seven of 12 games this year.  The result has led to the team outscoring opponents by a 92-43 margin in the opening 15 minutes of a contest.  Offensively, the team averaged 33.3 points during a three-game win streak to end the regular season, which happened to be nearly 10 points more per game than it averaged in the first nine games.

Marshall is 6-3 all-time in bowl games and has proven victorious in six of its last seven opportunities in postseason play.  The Thundering Herd won four of their final six games to become bowl eligible under second-year head coach Doc Holliday.  “We’re not where we want to be. Our goal is always to win the Conference USA championship,” commented Holliday this weekend.  “We’re getting closer.”  Creating turnovers is the name of the game for the defense, finishing second in the conference behind Memphis (30) in creating 28 turnovers.  Marshall is 2-0 ATS inside a dome stadium the past two-plus years.

The Thundering Herd played an incredibly challenging schedule this year, as many believe it was the 15th strongest in the nation.  Marshall’s defense is always on the attack and comes in tied for fifth nationally in tackles for loss.  Defensive end Vinny Curry has been a terror all season long, getting an invited to participate in the 2012 Senior Bowl.  He is also in the running for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player.

Bettors will likely back the Thundering Herd due to their 7-1 ATS mark in December, while the Golden Panthers are 1-6 ATS on field turf.

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