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New Mexico Bowl

Marshall

vs.

Colorado St

12/16/17

The New Mexico Bowl often involves West Coast teams, which makes this matchup more interesting than previous ones. In fact, there’s only been one school since 2006 that falls east of Texas in the New Mexico Bowl and that was Temple. Marshall, coming in with four losses in five games, has to travel across the country for this game against Colorado State. That may play a bit into the line with the Rams an early -5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Thundering Herd had a solid bounce back from a three-win season and then the schedule picked up and the losses piled up. While all of their losses came against teams with winning records, none of their wins came against teams with a winning record. Of course, that’s the standard for most of these teams in the early bowl games and also applies to Colorado State. Marshall has a much better 8-4 ATS record this season, but a lot of that has to do with the Herd coming off a down campaign. The Rams started hot and covered against teams like Alabama, which in turn overrated them going into MWC play and lead to six-straight non covers to end the season.

These teams are almost the opposite in terms of how they play. Marshall is based around its defense, which held teams to less than 20 points per game, while Colorado State averaged 34 points per contest and often got into shootouts. The Rams are led by experience at every offensive position and that starts with senior quarterback Nick Stevens, who had a career high 27 touchdowns. A lot of that can be attributed to stud wide out Michael Gallup (1,345 yards, 7 TDs), who has turned into one of the most underrated receivers in the country the past two seasons. Backup running back Izzy Matthews busted his collarbone a couple weeks ago, but Dalyn Dawkins (1,349 yards, 8 TDs) is plenty able to hold the workload by himself.

Marshall has done enough to keep offenses like FAU’s and WKU’s to 30 points or less and that’s the selling point for them in this game. The question is if the Herd can score on a defense that hasn’t stopped any decent offense this season. The Rams only give up 27.5 points per game, but allow 426 yards per contest, which is near the bottom of the charts.

With Chase Litton under center, who threw for at least 23 touchdowns for the third straight season, Marshall should get enough offensively to have a shot to win. What could separate the Herd is the ground game between Tyler King and Keion Davis. When those two struggle, the offense usually can’t get anything consistently going, but against a CSU defense that’s allowing 5.0 yards per carry, that may not be a problem. If King and Davis find room, that should lead to more passing lanes for Litton.

This is the classic offense against defense matchup in a bowl game and usually the team with a good defense and competent offense get the job done. Marshall has the longer trip, but is more suited to steal this game as an underdog. The question is if you want to bet against CSU’s experience and talent on the offensive side.

 

The Thundering Herd have covered in their last five bowl games, while the Rams are 2-5 ATS in their last seven bowl games. The over is 7-1 in Marshall’s last eight non-conference games and 5-2 in Colorado State’s last seven bowl games.

Our Pick - Marshall +3.5

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