There is a bowl game on Christmas Day. Marshall and Buffalo share one obvious connection this college football season: Both reached their conference championship game and lost. Marshall fell to UAB in the Conference USA Championship Game, while Buffalo lost to Ball State in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game. Both teams will therefore be motivated to bounce back. Let’s take a closer look at this online betting matchup.
College Football Odds: Buffalo -4.5
Sportsbook Total: 54
Location: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Al
The Marshall Thundering Herd were 7-0 and rolling but their offense – which had scored a total of 93 points in its previous two games, both blowout wins –- came to a complete halt. It was jarring to see Marshall suddenly incapable of doing anything on offense. Marshall was shut out by Rice, 20-0, throwing five interceptions and offering no ability to adjust to Rice’s defensive scheme. It’s not as though Rice did much of anything on offense. The Owls’ starting quarterback threw for only 86 yards … but it didn’t matter. Those five turnovers set up Rice to score without having to do much on offense. Marshall could never figure out what its opponent was doing.
Marshall on Offense
The Thundering Herd Had two weeks to fix whatever was wrong with their offense. They played UAB at home in the Conference USA title game … but the offense remained in a funk. It didn’t get shut out, but still scored just 13 points in a 22-13 defeat. UAB is a decent team, but Marshall’s offense simply froze in each of these last two games. Keep in mind that there is no long break between the end of the regular season and the bowl game this year. That’s part of the adjusted and pushed-back pandemic schedule. Marshall, therefore, has had no time to think about its bowl plans. This game is a quick turnaround for the Herd.
Buffalo on Offense
It’s also a quick turnaround for Buffalo, which similarly lost its conference title game as Marshall did. However, the Bulls weren’t burned entirely by their offense. They committed some turnovers and were not sharp, but their defense also allowed 38 points to Ball State. Buffalo had averaged just over 52 points in the four-game stretch immediately preceding the Ball State loss. Buffalo scored 28, which Marshall would love to achieve… but for the Bulls, it was a noticeable letdown. Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. He is probably the best NFL prospect on the field. Buffalo will hope to get him going in this game.
The stagnation of the Marshall offense means that even if the Thundering Herd improve to a certain degree, it is still going to be hard for them to keep pace with Jaret Patterson and the rest of the Buffalo offense. The game might be close, but Marshall’s offense has fallen so far that even a noticeably better offensive display might not be enough.