Boca Raton Bowl ATS Upset PickNoah Williams
On December 23rd, 2014, the Northern Illinois Huskies will travel to senior-heaven Boca Raton, Florida, to take on the 11 point favorite Marshall Thundering Herd in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl. The Huskies earned their trip to the game by winning the Mid-American Conference for the third time in the last four years with a 7-1 record and going 11-2 overall.
Could this game be the ATS upset pick of the 2014 Bowl season? Let’s find out.
Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall Thundering Herd vs Northern Illinois Huskies
Date: Dec. 23, 2014
Start Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location:Boca Raton, Florida
Stadium: FAU Stadium
TV Info: ESPN
Stream Info: WatchESPN.com
Radio: Marshall Vs Northern Illinois
Point Spread: Thundering Herd -11
Game Total: 61.5
Marshall Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl If
They can keep Northern Illinois from scoring at will!
The Conference USA champion Thundering Herd may have gotten the lion’s share of their publicity for their prolific, high-scoring offense, but it is the team’s underrated defense that has been the foundation for success this season. Well…that and their exciting offense.
Anyway, the Herd gave up just 20.8 points per game this season (22nd) and they got throttled in their only loss of the season, giving up a whopping 67 points in their heartbreaking regular season-ending one-point loss to Western Kentucky.
Marshall’s powerful offense has also been put quite in check recently with the Thundering Herd getting held to 26 points or less in two of their last three games, so that Bears watching as well.
QB Rakeem Cato is completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cato has nine touchdowns and five picks in his last two games. Tommy Shuler and Davonte Allen have combined for close to 1,500 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while Deon-Tay McManus has six of his 24 receptions in his last two games.
Marshall’s ground game is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, as Devon Johnson leads the way with 1,636 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Marshall Thundering Herd are allowing 20.8 points, 351.8 yards, and they’ve forced 35 sacks and 22 turnovers. Neville Hewitt leads Marshall with 114 tackles and Arnold Blackmon has 13.5 tackles for loss.
Northern Illinois Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl If
They play defense like they have the have the last six weeks!
The Mid-American Conference champion Huskies will have to play defense like they have for the last six weeks if they want to keep Marshall’s explosive offense from going crazy against them.
Marshall ranked second in the nation in total offense (563.4 ypg) and an equally-impressive fifth in scoring (45.1 ppg) thanks to a well-balanced offense that finished 18th in passing and seventh in rushing.
— NIU Huskie Athletics (@NIUAthletics) December 7, 2014
If the Huskies want to pull off the upset and win this contest, they’ll have to start by keeping Marshall’s offense from going bonkers. The good news is that Northern Illinois has held each of their last half-dozen opponents to 24 points or less while holding three of those opponents to 17 points or less.
The Huskies gave up at least 34 points in each of their two losses this season, so that could be the amount of points they need to hold Marshall to less than.
QB Drew Hare is completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. Hare has six total touchdowns and one pick in his last two games. Catching the ball are Da’Ron Brown and Juwan Brescacin who have combined for more than 1,400 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns while Aregeros Turner has seven of his 33 receptions in his last two games. Northern Illinois’ ground game is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, as Cameron Stingily leads the way with 895 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Northern Illinois Huskies are allowing 23.6 points, 382.9 yards, and have forced 30 sacks and 24 turnovers. Marlon Moore leads the Huskies with 93 tackles and Jason Meehan has 9.5 tackles for loss.
Who Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl?
The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl features two conference champions – and that in itself tells me that this will likely be a thrilling affair between two proud teams that comes down to the game’s final minutes.
— NIUAlumniAssociation (@niu_alumni) December 10, 2014
Northern Illinois has plenty of momentum on their side as they ride a seven-game winning streak into this contest, but Marshall showed a lot of grit in bouncing back from their only loss of the regular season to beat Louisiana Tech in their conference title game showdown.
With Marshall struggling to score down the stretch and failing to cover the spread in three straight – and Northern Illinois catching fire at the same time – I say, not only will the Huskies cover the bowl game betting line as insane 10-point underdogs, but they’ll do so by getting the outright upset win.