When: Dec. 20, 2011 | 8:00 PM ET
Where: St. Petersburg, FL
Betting Line: Florida Int'l (-4)
Predicted Outcome: Florida Int'l 31, Marshall 13
Florida Int'l Breakdown
The Golden Panthers started the season 5-4, but won their last three games to finish the regular season a school best 8-4 and earn a bowl bid. They rank between 67th and 70th (out of 120 teams) in passing yards, rushing yards, and total points per game, but their offensive game has been much better over the past three games.
Senior quarterback Welsey Carroll and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, two of the best players the school has ever had, look to cap off their careers with a second straight bowl game.
The strong point of the team is their defense, which ranks 16th in the nation giving up 19.4 points per game and had held their opponents to 20 or less in seven straight.
Marshall ranks better than FIU in passing offense, rushing offense, and points per game, but they don't have a strong D to balance it out.
They started 4-6 and had to win two very close games against Memphis and East Carolina to finish second in the weaker east division of Conference USA.
They gave up an average of eight points per game more then they scored, but surprisingly they force many turnovers. They ranked second in conference USA with 28 turnovers forced and are led by defensive end Vin Curry who was the conference's defensive player of the year. He leads the team with 11 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and three blocked kicks. For Marshall to have a chance at victory, Curry will need to step up big.
The Thundering Herd will face one of the best defenses they've seen all season. They have an inexperienced freshman quarterback and an offense that has struggled greatly. Florida Int'l has the better and more experienced offense and defense, and are playing in their home state. Expect them to dominate Marshall from start to finish and take home their second straight postseason trophy and improve on the best record in school history