Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Marshall Football: Taking Stock in the Herd's Bowl Possibilities

Derek Redd of the Charleston Daily Mail has complied Marshall’s bowl projections from various outlets for 12 weeks. Now that we are entering late November, the Thundering Herds bowl picture is becoming less muddled. The experts have settled on three landing spots for Marshall and we are here to explore the merits of each.

Conference USA’s champion is ticketed to attend the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis. The Liberty Bowl is particularly attractive because the opponent is furnished by the South Eastern Conference. Most projections have Vanderbilt or Tennessee facing off against the C-USA champion. The good news, Marshall controls its own destiny. Two wins to end the regular season and a victory in the conference championship game would ensure a New Years Eve trip to Memphis.  

If Marshall fails to capture the C-USA championship, two other bowls enter the forefront. Taking place at the Naval Academy’s Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Gumman pits C-USA against the Atlantic Coast Conference. A seven hour drive from Huntington, the Annapolis Md., based bowl is one of the most convenient travel options for Herd fans. The prospect of playing a BCS conference school is also appealing. Marshall biggest road block to Annapolis might be East Carolina. Like Marshall, ECU is an attractive option for the Military Bowl because of their proximity to the game site. Another important factor when deciding bowl bids, the Pirates are outdrawing Marshall by just under 20,000 fans per game this season. Although, the Military Bowl has shown interest in the Herd, sending representatives to watch two games at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The final possibility is a familiar one to Herd fans, the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg. Marshall's last Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl was 2011, a 20-10 win over FIU. While located in a warm Florida location, the event is played indoors at Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. One of the game’s biggest drawbacks is opponent. The American Athletic Conference is suppose to supply a team but, with a shortage of bowl eligible schools the slot will probably be filled by the Mid-American or Sunbelt Conference.

The postseason picture will clear itself up over the next three weeks. At this point, it is still anyone's guess what will happen but, Marshall is in a good spot. Bowl eligible and a possible conference championship is a pleasant departure from years past.     

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