St. Petersburg Bowl Picks: Back Talented Connecticut Defense vs. Marshall

David Lawrence

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 2:34 PM GMT

The Connecticut Huskies and the Marshall Thundering Herd both did well to make this bowl game on the morning after Christmas. What will be our smart college football pick for this matchup?

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Free College Football Bowl Pick: Connecticut +4
Best Odds Offered By Bovada

 

Momentum
The Huskies from New England probably have more overall momentum. They did lose their season finale to Temple, but they did beat Houston the week before, in what was one of the biggest and most important upsets of the whole season. A real debate could have been created if Houston had gone 13-0 this season. The Cougars might have had a chance to slip into the College Football Playoff as the number four team. However, Connecticut was able to contain the Cougars and pull off the win which sealed bowl eligibility for coach Bob Diaco’s crew. Connecticut gets almost all of its work done on defense. The Huskies try to run the ball, shorten the game, control the clock, and keep the opposing offense off the field. When it all works well, powerful offenses can be kept in check, even by a Connecticut team which has struggled over the past few seasons. The Huskies know how to play defense. It’s the offense which gets them into trouble.

Marshall went 9-3 this season, which is three games better than 6-6 Connecticut, but the Thundering Herd played a much easier schedule in Conference USA. Connecticut had to play Temple and Navy and Houston, three of the better teams outside the power conferences in college football. The Herd were not as strong as they were last season, when they flirted with an unbeaten record before losing in late November. Marshall lost to Ohio early in the season. It won several straight games after that loss, but the Herd lost two of their final three games to close the season, falling to Middle Tennessee and then to Western Kentucky. This team will at least like the fact that it will face an offense less powerful than Western Kentucky. UConn struggles on offense.

 

Line Moves
Marshall began as a four-point favorite for this game. The college football odds have not moved. Bettors don’t seem to have a strong reaction to this game or a clear feel for it.

 

Notable Injuries
Connecticut offensive lineman Ryan Crozier is out with a leg injury. Defensive lineman Cole Ormsby is out with a lower body injury. Tight end Tommy Myers is out with a leg injury. Wide receiver Brian Lemelle is questionable with a lower body injury. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs probable with a head injury. Wide receiver Dhameer Bradley is out with a knee injury.

Marshall dismissed wide receiver Angelo Jean-Louis from the team. Offensive lineman Clint Van Horn is out with an undisclosed condition. Safety A.J. Leggett left the team. Wide receiver Emmanuel Beal has been suspended. So have linebacker Raheim Huskey and linebacker Stefan Houston. All three suspended players are questionable for this game.

Running back Devon Johnson is out with a back injury.

 

Handicapping The Game
For the Bowl season, Marshall’s offense is better, but Connecticut’s defense is likely much better than anything the Herd have seen. Take Connecticut with your college football picks.