Gasparilla Bowl Preview: South Florida At Home Over Marshall

Monday, December 10, 2018 9:58 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 9:58 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Gasparilla Bowl. The game from Tampa, Florida is Thursday, December 20, at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall (8-4 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. South Florida (7-5 SU, 4-8 ATS)Thursday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FLFree NCAAF Pick: Bulls MLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Marshall Thundering Herd are about to play their sixth bowl game in nine seasons under head coach Doc Holliday. They swept the other five games SU and ATS. The South Florida Bulls are in Year Two under Charlie Strong, the former head coach at Louisville and Texas; they won last year’s Birmingham Bowl 38-34 over Texas Tech as 2-point favorites. Marshall are 2.5-point faves at press time to beat USF, down from –3 at the open.

How They Got Here


Marshall finished second in the Conference USA East Division, with a pair of non-con losses to North Carolina State (–6 away) and Virginia Tech (–3.5 at home). South Florida came in fourth in the AAC’s East Division, after checking in as high as No. 21 on the AP poll. They dropped each of their last five games, although the Bulls were double-digit dogs in four of those losses, three of them on the road.

Why Marshall Can Win/Cover

On paper, the Thundering Herd have the winning combination for the Gasparilla Bowl (formerly the St. Petersburg Bowl). They’re No. 62 on the F/+ Combined Ratings at Football Outsiders, ahead of the Bulls at No. 86. The Herd are especially strong on defense; Holliday was a linebacker at West Virginia, and has built a strong defensive line anchored by Ryan Bee and converted LB Juwon Young.

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The Defensive MVP is Ryan Bee (@r_bee91) #HerdFamily pic.twitter.com/YiGyz9BCYu

— Marshall Football (@HerdFB) December 9, 2018
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Neither offense in this matchup is particularly strong, but the Herd will have the advantage through the air – especially with USF starting QB Blake Barnett (shoulder) listed as questionable. Barnett missed two of the last three games for the Bulls; Chris Oladokun and Brett Kean split the duties in a pair of ugly losses to Cincinnati (–15 at home) and Central Florida (–16.5 away).

Why South Florida Can Win/Cover

There isn’t really all that much drop-off between Barnett (130.5 passer rating) and Oladokun (126.5 rating). And the Bulls will be playing at their home stadium in Tampa, though their home-field advantage will be somewhat mitigated; last year, ESPN’s Brad Edwards and Seth Walder pegged USF at minus-0.56 Points Above Expectation playing at Raymond James Stadium.

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WATCH: #USF sophomore QB Chris Oladokun showing off his arm and legs at Thursday's practice for the Bulls. @1Chrisoladokun0 @SpecSports360 #BayMade @SHS_Gryphons pic.twitter.com/fFtECnJCtH

— CHRIS TORELLO (@TorelloSports) April 12, 2018
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Home field is still enough to make South Florida a virtual coin-flip to win the Gasparilla Bowl. ESPN’s Football Power Index projects the Bulls to win 50.6 percent of the time. If this game comes down to a field goal, Coby Weiss is 13-of-16 this year, while Marshall PK Justin Rohrwasser is 14-of-20. And RB Tyler King (6.1 yards per carry) has missed the last five Herd games with a knee injury, so he should be gimpy/rusty if he gets to play at all.

Common Opponent/Series History

These two teams didn’t share a common opponent in 2018, and they have yet to play a game against each other with a betting line attached.

Final Verdict

Momentum is obviously an issue for the Bulls, but they get to play the Gasparilla Bowl at home, and they should have some built-in betting value against the popular Herd. The consensus reports at press time show 60 percent of early bettors on South Florida. However, since the spread has moved off the magic number 3, there should be value on the moneyline instead, where USF are available at +120.

Read About Gasparilla Bowl History & Betting Trends

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