2011 Beef 'O' Brady Bowl Predictions: Florida International vs. Marshall Preview

Doc Moseman@DocsSportsCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2011

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 22:  Wide receiver  Wayne Bonner #11 of the Marshall Thundering Herd completes a 8 yard reception for a touhdown as he gets behind Thomas Bates #13 of the Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

This upcoming Tuesday, the Florida International Golden Panthers, out of the Sun Belt Conference will look to keep their season-ending winning streak alive when they tangle with the Conference USA’s Marshall Thundering Herd in this year’s Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The kickoff for this one is slated for 8 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

FIU’s bowl eligibility was somewhat in doubt this year after a mid-season slump in which it dropped three of four games, leaving the team 5-4 straight-up with three games left to play. The Golden Panthers quickly righted the ship with a 41-7 pasting of Florida Atlantic as 17.5-point home favorites on Nov. 12 to spark a three-game rally in which they outscored their opponents by a combined score of 100-42.

FIU finished the regular season 8-4 SU and was 6-6 against the spread. It finished fourth in the Sun Belt with a 5-3 SU record in conference play.

The strong point of this Panthers’ team this season has been a shutdown defense that finished the year ranked 16th in the nation in points allowed; giving-up an average of just 19.4 points a game. Since getting tagged with 34 points in an 18-point loss to Arkansas State on Oct.18 as a 3.5-point road underdog, FIU has given-up an average of just 14.2 points in its last five games.

One injury note; Panthers quarterback Jake Medlock missed the final game of the season after hurting his shoulder in Week 12 and remains questionable at this time.

Marshall’s journey to this bowl game was even more perilous considering it needed victories in its last two games just to qualify with an overall record of 6-6 SU (7-5 ATS). It squeaked by Memphis, 23-22, as a 13.5-point road favorite on Nov.17 and needed overtime to get by East Carolina, 34-27, as a one-point home favorite in the season finale.

The Herd finished the season second in C-USA’s East Division at 5-3 SU.

The primary reason for the Herds’ struggles this year has been an inconsistent offense that has averaged just 22 points a game and only managed to score 30 or more points twice this year.

Marshall’s defense has also been sketchy as best, giving-up an average of 30.2 points a game, which is ranked 84th in Division IA.


Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl Odds

FIU opened as a five-point favorite and is currently favored by four, according to college football odds. The total line opened at 51 but has dropped to 48.5 points.

The game spread should remain steady, but the total line could continue to drop a bit if the early money trends on the ‘under’ persist.


Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl Betting Trends

The Golden Panthers are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as a favorite, but they are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win. The total has stayed ‘under’ in six of their last eight games overall.

The Thundering Herd are 6-1 ATS in their last seven bowl games. The total has stayed ‘under’ in five of their last six bowl games and in four of their last five games overall.


2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl Predictions

Both these team’s current form and past trends favor a low-scoring contest, making the best bet in this matchup the ‘under’ considering the current 48.5-point line. It remains high enough despite the drop from its open.

If you play a side in this game as well, stick with FIU’s defense to carry the team to a win that covers the four points.

Prediction: FIU 24, Marshall 16

Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports football picks Web site.