Hail WV: The Herd Are Heading To Tampa Bay For Its College Football Bowl Bid

Posted on December 11, 2019

The majority of college football betting in West Virginia is on the WVU Mountaineers. Well, now it’s Marshall’s turn.

The Marshall Thundering Herd put together a quality season and were rewarded with a college football bowl bid. The Herd are heading to the 2019 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Unfortunately, they will face a very difficult test going up against the University of Central Florida.

The UCF Knights have been one of the most successful teams in all of college football in recent years. This year, they finished second in the American Athletic Conference with a record of 9-3 overall.

While it was still a good season, this year has been a step back for UCF. Over the course of 2017 and 2018, the Knights only lost one total game. They fell to LSU in last season’s Fiesta Bowl, 40-32.

The previous year, UCF won its bowl game over Auburn to complete its perfect season at 13-0. It actually claimed the National Championship for itself despite not qualifying for the College Football Playoff.

Although this year wasn’t as good, UCF is an excellent opponent and sizable favorites over Marshall. West Virginia sportsbooks have the betting line listed around 17 points.

Even though Marshall didn’t win Conference USA, it is having a solid 2019 campaign as well. Coach Doc Holliday led his team to a 8-4 record, good enough for second in the East division.

The Thundering Herd won six of their last seven contests and made up for a sluggish start. Their only recent defeat came against Charlotte in a game where Marshall was seven-point favorites.

With the WVU Mountaineers season complete, local sportsbooks should see plenty of action on the Gasparilla Bowl. The WV sports betting market has been very active since online sportsbooks returned to the Mountain State.

Let’s take a deeper look at both teams and examine all of the odds available for Marshall’s final game of the year.

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How to bet on college football bowl games

College bowl season is an exciting time for WV sports betting fans. It is even more exciting when one of your teams makes it to the postseason.

The Gasparilla Bowl details:

  • Date – Dec. 23, 2019
  • Time – 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Location – Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Broadcast – ESPN

Betting on college football bowl games is easier for West Virginia bettors now that online sportsbooks are available. Currently, West Virginia has two sports betting apps available:

Maybe a game-day party is more your style. If so, then head to one of two retail sportsbooks open to the public in the state:

  • Hollywood Casino Sportsbook
  • Mountaineer Sportsbook

Or book a room at The Greenbrier which will reward you with a key to the state’s only private sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier.

Marshall Football 2019

In spite of falling short of their season’s goal to win the conference, the Herd proved they’re a good football team. After starting out just 2-3, Marshall was able to right the ship and qualify for another bowl appearance.

The Herd suffered four defeats, but they only disappointed in two of them. They lost to the 21st-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats along with the 19th-ranked Boise State Broncos. Those two squads went a combined 22-4 this season.

The two bad losses both came on the road away from the home fans in Huntington. As mentioned, Marshall lost to Charlotte in addition to Middle Tennessee back in early October. The Herd were favorites in both matchups.

Quarterback Isaiah Green helped pace the team through the air and on the ground. He passed for over 2,200 yards and rushed for nearly 300. Green accounted for 18 total touchdowns.

He did receive plenty of help from running back Brenden Knox, though. The sophomore rushed for almost 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

In order for Marshall to compete in this game, it will need a great performance from both players.

Tight end Armani Levias led all other receiving options by a wide margin in terms of statistics. He had 19 more receptions than the second leading receiver. Levias totaled 43 catches for almost 500 yards and three scores on the year.

Defensively, Marshall turned to linebackers Tavante Beckett and Omari Cobb. They each recorded more than 100 total tackles along with two sacks and an interception.

Beating UCF won’t come easy, however, the Herd have shown they can rise to the occasion before. If they can play their best game, there’s no reason they can’t cover the sizable point spread.

UCF Knights

The UCF Knights were impressive again in 2019. While they didn’t finish atop the American, they still have a chance to end another season with at least 10 victories.

UCF dropped three regular-season games, but only lost them all by a combined seven points.

It lost to Pittsburgh by one and fell to Cincinnati and Tulsa by three. All three games were on the road.

The Knights finished the season by winning five of their last six. They have some quality wins, but their most recent loss was a very poor performance.

UCF lost to a Tulsa team that was 2-7 overall and winless in the conference prior to the game. Three costly turnovers were the difference in the slim margin. The Knights were 16.5-point favorites.

UCF tends to throw the ball down the field much more often than Marshall. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel passed for nearly 3,400 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.

His favorite target is junior Gabriel Davis. The receiver caught 72 balls for over 1,200 yards, including 12 touchdowns.

Davis is a major problem for all opposing defenses. He uses his big frame (6’3”, 212 lbs) to gain position and out-muscle smaller defensive backs. Marshall will need to shadow the wideout with additional help over the top or else Davis will have another big day.

The Knights have a bunch of running backs who can create an impact, too. They successfully rotated between four different players, with each of them contributing throughout the year.

Otis Anderson led the unit in touches and yards. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry en route to 665 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

UCF has one of the most explosive offenses that Marshall will see this season. The Herd must try to contain the chunk plays down the field, otherwise, this game could become fairly one-sided.

Gasparilla Bowl Betting Odds

Although the betting line for this game is a bit larger than most other bowls, it should turn out to be a very entertaining matchup. The two sides play a little differently on offense, so it will be interesting to see how the game flow pans out and which team needs to make adjustments.

UCF will be looking to attack deep through the air and test the Marshall secondary often. On the other side, the Herd will be looking to run consistently and possess the ball for as long as they can.

Marshall’s offense can help out the defense a lot by limiting the number of possessions in the game. If this one becomes a shootout, Marshall’s chances drastically reduce.

Here are the current odds for the 2019 Gasparilla Bowl according to DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook:

 Spread Total Moneyline
DraftKingsMarshall +1861.5Marshall +480
UCF -670
FanDuelWVU +17.561.5Marshall +570
UCF -825
Last updated on Dec. 10
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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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