Match-Up: Connecticut (AAC) Vs. Marshall (C-USA)
Spread: Marshall (-4.5)
When: Saturday, December 26th, 11:00 AM
Location: Tropicana Field, Florida
Where to Watch: ESPN
It wasn’t exactly a dream season for the Huskies, but they did improve from a 2-10 record in Bob Diaco’s 2nd year, which should be considered a victory. The season started with an embarrassing win (weird terminology, but true) over Division 2 Villanova, 20-15. However, the Huskies were impressive all year on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 17th in points per game allowed. The Huskies won 3 of their last four, but the real high point of the season was their massive upset win over undefeated Houston, ruining their division rival’s chance at a Playoff spot. They did lose their season finale to Temple, 27-3, but they’ll look to bounce back here against the Thundering Herd.
Players to Watch
Andrew Adams (S) – The red shirt senior led the team in tackles with 89 this season. He also picked off 3 passes, broke up 3 more, and had 3.5 tackles for loss. His teammates and coaches voted him the “Defensive Player of the Year” for the Huskies, and he earned a spot on the All-AAC 2nd team. He will look to improve his draft stock in the biggest game of his young career.
Foley Fatukasi (DL) – The red shirt sophomore defensive lineman will look to build on his impressive season. He led the team in sacks this season with 7, and tacked on 6 more tackles for loss. He forced four fumbles and hit the QB four other times as well. He also won the team award for “Most Outstanding Power Player”. Look for him to put an explanation point on what was a very impressive game for the young stud.
How Connecticut Can Win
Defense on defense on defense on defense. The Huskies only score 17.8 points per game, so it’s tough to imagine them winning a shootout against Marshall, who averaged 32.6 PPG. Look for them to try to capitalize on turnovers, as they rank 10th in the nation with 17.
Future NFL super star tallied 96 catches for 1820 yards and 26 touchdowns, and the Herd look ready to DOMINATE… Wait, oh that’s right, wrong year. While many only affiliate Marshall with the future HOF player, the Thundering Herd have actually been successful lately. In fact, they were coming off of a 13-1 season. It was actually a somewhat disappointing season this year. After an impressive 41-31 victory over Big 10 opponent Purdue, the Herd lost to Onio 21-10. They would go on to win 7 straight games, before dropping 2 of their last 3, including a 49-28 loss to Western Kentucky.
Players to Watch
Davonte Allen (WR) – Allen is no Randy Moss… Obviously… But he has been rather impressive over the last few weeks. 30 of Allen’s 56 catches this season have come in his last 4 games, including a 12 catch, 232 performance against Charlotte. The senior has been on fire lately, look for him to continue in this game.
Gary Thompson (DL) – I want to give a shout out to team defensive MVP Evan McKelvey, who leads the team with 113 total tackles. But Thompson, the red shirt junior, has been a bigger playmaker this year. He has 57 tackles, including 11.5 for losses, and 8 sacks, both of which lead the team. He’s also forced 5 fumbles this season. Thompson will look to end this season strong as he looks towards his senior year, where he might end up on some NFL radars.
How Marshall Can Win
If Marshall wants to win this game, they’ll have to do two things. First, they’ll have to run the ball effectively. Lucky for them, the Huskies rank 63rd in the nation in rushing defense. While that’s not terrible, it’s not elite. Second, the Herd can not turn the ball over. As long as they don’t give the 120th ranked offense in turns of yardage good field position, they should be able to contain them.
Final Score Prediction: Marshall Wins 17-6
Brian Sullivan: @TheMadManSports
Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/rolmao_30