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Gasparilla Bowl Preview and Prediction

UCF takes on a familiar foe in former conference rival Marshall.

UCF vs. Marshall Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The History

It’s a rivalry renewed in this year’s Gasparilla Bowl matchup between Marshall and UCF. The two programs started playing in 2002 when UCF joined the Mid-American Conference. Marshall won the first three matchups before Conference USA took in both programs starting in 2005.

UCF would go on to win all eight of their C-USA games against the Thundering Herd with their last meeting being in 2012 before UCF left for the Big East/AAC. This isn’t the big “power five” opponent many UCF fans were hoping for but there is a lot of history there which should make this exciting.

The Opponent

Marshall has had a successful season as they come into this matchup with an 8-4 record. Their most notable game was a 36-31 victory against the C-USA Champion FAU Owls in Boca Raton. UCF also played FAU on the road and won that game 48-14. The Knights will be Marshall’s only opponent who averages more than 40 points and 500 yards per game.

Offensively, the Thundering Herd rank 88th in points per game (25.8) and 73rd in yards per game (396.5). They’re a run heavy team that averages just under 200 rushing yards per game. Their sophomore quarterback Isaiah Green may not be the strongest passer but he’s athletic and has the ability to run.

On the defensive side of the ball, Marshall ranks 41st in points allowed (23.1) and 40th in total yards allowed (362.3). While statistically they seem to be a middle of the road team on defense, they were able to keep Boise State to just 14 points in Idaho. Look for offensive line play to be a key factor for UCF’s success as Marshall is top-30 in sacks as well.

The Prediction

All in all, I think Marshall is a real solid program. They may not do one thing really well but they do a lot of things decent enough. One thing I’ve learned throughout the season is that numbers don’t always tell you what will happen on the field (i.e. Tulsa). I do, however, believe that UCF is going to win this game in a dominant fashion to cap off their season - even without Adrian Killins in the backfield.

Final Score Prediction: UCF 42, Marshall 17