The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl features Florida International of the Sun Belt Conference against Marshall from Conference USA. Florida International earned a bowl bid by going 8-4 overall this year and 5-3 in Sun Belt conference play. Marshall had to win their last two games in dramatic fashion to become bowl eligible at 6-6. The Thundering Herd beat Memphis by one, 23-22, then ended the season with an overtime victory against East Carolina.
When Marshall is on Offense
Marshall’s offense was unimpressive this season. The Thundering Herd have the 98th best scoring offense in the nation at 22 points per game. It’s an offense without an identity. Freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato played his best game of the season in the finale against East Carolina, but he hasn’t proven himself on a week in, week out basis yet. Running backs Tron Martinez and Travon Van split carries, mostly because neither has impressed enough to take the lead.
Florida International’s defense is licking their chops to get after Marshall’s anemic offense. FIU’s defense was great this year allowing only 19.4 points per game. The Golden Panthers sacked opposing quarterbacks 33 times this year, and they will look to get after Marshall’s freshman signal caller.
When Florida International is on Offense
Senior wide receiver/kick returner T.Y. Hilton is the true definition of a play maker. Hilton needs 50 yards receiving to reach 1,000 for the second time in his career. He has a combined 6 kick and punt returns for touchdowns in his career, and the Golden Panthers will find ways to get him the football. Running back Kedrick Rhodes ran well this season to the tune of 1,121 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Marshall’s defense gave up a lot of points this season allowing opponents an average of 30.2 points per game. They gave up 44 to Ohio, 59 to Tulsa, and 63 to Houston. Marshall will definitely have their work cut out for them trying to slow T.Y. Hilton.
2011 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl Pick Against the Spread
Florida International won its first bowl game last season and is favored to win their second this year. The Golden Panthers are favored by 4 points over Marshall in the 2011 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl. Florida International has the best player on the field (Hilton) and they are playing close to home in St. Petersburg. Marshall played inconsistent, uninspiring football all season and they just don’t have the talent at the skill positions on offense. I feel very comfortable taking FIU and giving the points in this one.
2011 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl Prediction
Florida International – 27
Marshall – 17