Previewing a post-Christmas day match-up between UConn and Marshall in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
The UConn Huskies football team is set to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd in the St. Petersburg Bowl on December 26th at 11:00 AM ET. UConn’s bowl eligibility comes as a surprise to many, as they followed up last season’s 2-10 record with a 6-6 record this season and look to be heading in the right direction.
Marshall has been a consistently strong program out of Conference USA in recent memory and come into the game with a 9-3 record. Don’t let their record fool you though, they may not be as strong as they have in the past. Rakeem Cato, who led the Thundering Herd to a nearly undefeated season last year, has graduated and Chase Litton has taken over at quarterback and put up some respectable numbers.
However, Litton doesn’t have the play-making ability Cato had, and his numbers may be more due to the offensive system and scheme that has brought them success in the past few years. Their record may also appear better than it actually is. Only one of their nine wins comes against a team with a winning record, and they faced very few quality teams playing in the weak Conference USA.
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The highlight of UConn’s season was their upset of the American Athletic Conference champions, Houston, giving them their only loss of the season. UConn’s 20-17 win against the 19th ranked team in the country was part of a three game winning streak that helped them become bowl eligible. Their winning streak ended with a loss to a strong Temple team that is ranked number 25 in the nation in the final week of the season.
The strength of Bob Diaco’s team is defense, specifically their secondary. This should definitely help them match up nicely against a pass heavy offense at Marshall. One thing that the Huskies struggled with this season and most likely will again in their bowl game is on the offensive side of the ball. They lack many big play-makers and often struggle to get any consistency going.
The Huskies will have Bryant Shirreffs back under center after missing most of the Houston game and all of the Temple game due to injury.
Prediction: UConn may have only one signature win on their resume; however, they played a much stronger schedule then Marshall just by being in the AAC. With a few weeks to prepare, they should be able to come up with a game plan to move the football and score enough points against Marshall’s average defense.
The Huskies defense will hold strong and the school’s first bowl win since 2009 will be the icing on the cake of their successful 2015 season and lead them to competing with the big name teams in the AAC going forward. UConn 20 – Marshall 14