2018 Gasparilla Bowl Preview

December 19, 2018
By K. Becks

The MAC is giving me fits early in the bowl season.

Last night, Northern Illinois was unable to weather the UAB offense and was soundly beaten in Boca Raton, and as this article is being written, Ohio is taking care of business against San Diego State and making my preview of the Frisco Bowl look absolutely ridiculous.

Prior to the game on Wednesday night, my dad still held a commanding lead in the Von Hugendong Bowl Mania group.

As we near the weekend and another slew of games, let’s take a look at the last day of the week with just a single bowl game on the slate.

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

Marshall vs. South Florida (Thursday, 8 PM ET – ESPN)

The Bulls will look to end a five game losing streak that saw Charlie Strong’s team go from No. 21 in the country to absolute afterthought in the American Athletic Conference. Injuries surely played a part, as starting quarterback Blake Barnett missed two of the team’s final three games battling various injuries, but the reality is that South Florida’s defense was exposed by better competition during the second half of the year. The Bulls resemble Swiss cheese on defense against the run, allowing nearly 245 yards per game on the ground alone. Marshall’s rushing offense has really been by committee this season, but the Thundering Herd have gone for over 200 yards on the ground four times this season, suggesting some success in that department in this game.

While this is a literal home game for the Bulls, I question how much South Florida will care about winning this one given the way the second half of the season went for the team. Throw in Barnett’s questionable status for the game and my general distrust of Charlie Strong, and you have a perfect storm for Doc Holliday’s squad to come in and pull off the upset. The defense is good enough to slow down South Florida’s running back tandem of Jordan Cronkrite and Johnny Ford, but after having been burned twice in the last two bowl games, I’m going more conservative in this one. I’ve got the favorites for 16 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 35-27 South Florida

If you have interest in offering your insight for any of the bowl games this season, shoot me an email at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or reach out on one of ATC’s social media sites (Facebook, Twitter). I’d be happy to accommodate.

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