Frisco Bowl Preview: UTSA vs. Marshall
If the spread is any indication, the sponsor of the Frisco Bowl might be needed to get through the game between UTSA and Marshall. Scooter’s Coffee and a 9 p.m. ET kickoff could be a match made in heaven on Tuesday night when the Roadrunners and Thundering Herd play in Frisco, Texas for the standalone bowl game on December 19.
This will be an AAC vs. Sun Belt matchup. Marshall and UTSA were previously Conference USA rivals, but the Thundering herd joined the Sun Belt for the start of the 2022 season and UTSA was a first-year member of the AAC this season.
Tuesday December 19, 9:00 p.m. ET
Odds as of 12/16, 10:30 a.m. PT
A major transfer for Marshall shot the spread up into double digits and we haven’t really seen a whole lot of interest in backing the underdog. QB Cam Fancher had 308 of Marshall’s 391 pass attempts and was the only quarterback to throw a touchdown pass for the Herd this season. He has visited some big programs, including LSU and NC State, so there is clearly enough interest to keep him out of this bowl game.
Players in the transfer portal can play if they wish, but guys who could get NIL money or transfer to a Power Five school are going to bypass the game in hopes of staying healthy. That is the case with Fancher, so Cole Pennington, the son of former NFL QB Chad Pennington, will get the call.
Pennington was 49-of-79 for 437 yards with a 6/3 TD/INT ratio in parts of three games, including starts against Georgia Southern and South Alabama. The drop-off between Pennington, who is a freshman, and the departing sophomore in Fancher may not actually be that great, but there are a lot of people who expect star running back Rasheen Ali to sit out. He had 203 carries for 1,043 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season. No other running back scored a rushing touchdown or had more than 301 yards.
UTSA will be sufficiently motivated here. Starting QB Frank Harris will finally exhaust his eligibility, so this will be his last college game. Harris threw his first college pass in 2019, but was a signee in the Class of 2017. He dealt with turf toe early in the season and the Roadrunners got off to a slow start, but they won seven in a row before falling 29-16 to Tulane in the regular season finale.
That game against Tulane was Harris’s first since the season opener against Houston with more interceptions than touchdowns. He actually missed about a month from September 9 to October 7 and once he came back, played at a very high level. He also started to run the ball more late in the season and that made a lot of difference.
The only notable player gone for UTSA is EDGE Trey Moore, who finished the regular season tied for third in sacks. His presence would have further disrupted a Marshall offense with a freshman QB and a group that finished tied for 92nd in yards per play. UTSA did allow just 4.89 yards per play against unranked opponents, while having their defensive numbers skewed by the games against Tennessee and Tulane. Marshall is not on that level.
I like Under 53 in this game. Pennington is an unknown and Marshall had a top-20 defense by third-down conversion rate to go along with the 122nd-ranked offense. Marshall was also 105th in red zone TD% and now has the QB change. But, the Thundering Herd were fourth in TD% against in the red zone. Their defense is really good situationally and that should keep the score low here.
Pick: Under 53
Game Trends from Steve Makinen
* TX-SAN ANTONIO has lost all four prior bowl games outright and L2 ATS – FAVORS MARSHALL
* FAVORITES are on a run of 8-1 SU & ATS in MARSHALL bowl games – FAVORS TX-SAN ANTONIO