Boca Raton Bowl Picks: N. Illinois vs. Marshall NCAA Football

Joe Gavazzi

Monday, December 22, 2014 7:45 PM GMT

This College Football handicapper knows how to exploit the betting odds and make the most profit. In this segment he will focus on the Boca Raton Bowl where Northern Illinois faces Marshall.

Boca Raton Bowl
N. Illinois vs. Marshall (-10) 6:00 ET ESPN
Very tough to predict the mental state of a Marshall team, whose late College Football season meltdown precluded a major payday and loads of exposure in a January 1st game!  Marshall entered the regular season finale at 11-0 SU.  That streak quickly came to a close when the Herd suffered a 67-66 loss to W. Kentucky, a game in which Marshall allowed over 700 yards.  Though they bounced back the following week to win the CUSA Championship in the closing minutes (26-23 at home to LA Tech), it certainly didn’t appear to be the same Thundering Herd.  With 17 days to prepare, the question is whether this is the same confident, high-powered offense that appeared in the first 11 games.  Herd QB Cato had a phenomenal season.  He finished with a 37/13 ratio and has thrown a TD pass in 45 consecutive games.  RB Johnson provides ground balance to this 200 Club Member that averages 276 yards or more, both running and passing, for 45 PPG.  Despite that defensive meltdown vs. Western, this is a Marshall team that has allowed 22 PPG in the previous 2 years.  Behind QB Cato, Marshall has averaged 40 or more PPG L3Y and has covered all 3 of their Bowl games in that timeframe.  

Clearly, however, that offensive performance has left the College Football odds to be inflated more than a TD from where it was at the opening of the season.  Now, they must face a veteran MAC team who has progressively improved throughout the season.  The Huskies are appearing in their 7th consecutive Bowl game and have recorded 11 or more wins in 5 consecutive seasons.  Clearly, it is a bit troubling that as part of the MAC membership, the Huskies are a very similar 2-5 ATS in their recent Bowl games.  Taking the place of last year’s starter, QB Lynch, QB Hare proved a valuable dual threat.  Among his accomplishments was a 17/2 ratio.  Northern enters with great momentum, having covered their final 3 games, including victories vs. Toledo, W. Michigan and Bowling Green (the 3 teams they needed to beat to claim yet another MAC championship).  With a tradition of excellence and a record of 7-0 SU ATS as dog to +12, we must bark with the Huskies at a double digit margin that has provided a history of 60% ATS winners in Bowl games the last 40 years. 

Free College Football Picks: Take N. Illinois +10 at Bodog