USF-Marshall Betting Guide: Can Slumping Bulls Rebound in 2018 Gasparilla Bowl?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marshall coach Doc Holliday and USF coach Charlie Strong
2018 Gasparilla Bowl Betting Odds: USF-Marshall
- Odds: Marshall -3
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Date: Thursday, Dec. 20
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
>> All odds as of Wednesday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.
South Florida is looking to rebound from a disastrous end to the season, but will have to do it against a coach and team that’s typically dominant in bowl games.
Marshall will bring its sturdy defense to the Gasparilla Bowl looking to continue that trend.
The Herd ended the year with a blowout loss to Virginia Tech they didn’t seem to care much about, and had travel issues getting to Tampa due to weather. Raymond James Stadium is expected to be hit with rain and winds of at least 15 mph throughout the game.
Market Moves for Marshall-USF
By Danny Donahue
There was a bit of disagreement around the market as to where this point spread should open. Some books opened at Marshall -3, while others weren’t willing to grant USF bettors a full field goal.
And although Marshall has clearly been the more popular bet (73% of bets, 68% of dollars), the confusion on where to set this line has continued. At just about every book, the spread sits at either a heavily juiced Marshall -2.5, or a similarly priced USF +3.
The movement on the total has been a bit more straightforward. With 83% of bets and 88% of dollars landing on the under, oddsmakers have predictably dropped the number down from 54.5 to 51.5 (see live betting data here).
Trends to Know for Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall owns the nation’s highest winning percentage in bowl history at 11-3. The Thundering Herd have won six straight bowls, including five straight under current head coach Doc Holliday — two of which also came in the Tampa area. Holliday is 5-0 against the spread in those games, covering by 10 points per game.
By John Ewing
South Florida ended its season on a five-game losing streak. The Bulls are just the fifth team since 2005 to lose five or more games in a row and qualify for a bowl game.
The previous four teams went 4-0 straight up and ATS in their bowl games, covering on average by 17.8 points.
Who’s More Motivated?
By Steve Petrella
I think it will be hard to find a team less excited about its bowl game than South Florida. The Bulls had real AAC title hopes after starting 7-0 (even if it was a fraudulent 7-0). Charlie Strong’s group then lost five straight to end the season, including drubbings by Tulane, Houston and UCF.
As a result, the Bulls wound up in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, which will be played in their home stadium. There might be a slight home-field advantage, but I can’t imagine USF is thrilled with how the season ended and where it was placed in bowl season.
Quarterback Questions for South Florida
By Collin Wilson
Keep tabs on quarterback Blake Barnett, as he ended the regular season with an ankle injury. Whomever goes under center for the Bulls will have a new offensive coordinator, as Sterling Gilbert has left his position under coach Charlie Strong for a head coaching position at McNeese State.
Gilbert’s offense at South Florida took a nose dive in S&P+ this year, but some of that regression can be attributed to the loss of quarterback Quinton Flowers from 2017.
By Steve Petrella
Justin Burke will call plays for the Bulls. He’s served as special teams/tight ends coach this season, and has never called plays before. He’s been on Charlie Strong’s staffs since 2011 primarily as an offensive assistant.
But Barnett’s status will be the bigger storyline to watch. USF’s quarterbacks combined to go 29 of 61 for 345 yards (5.6 yards per attempt) in games Barnett missed against Cincinnati and UCF. Granted, those are the two best defenses the Bulls played this season, but Marshall is in that league.
USF Will Live in Third and Long
Marshall arrives in Tampa with a defense ranked 13th in the country, per S&P+. The Herd own a particularly dominant run defense, as they are one of only five teams in the country to allow fewer than 3.0 yards per rush. They also excel at limiting explosive runs (13th in FBS), which is a key cog of the Bulls’ offensive attack (ranked 16th).
As a result, USF should find itself in plenty of passing situations. Considering opponents average 8.3 yards to go on third down against Marshall (which is 13th best in nation), that’s not where you want to be against a Herd defense that can generate plenty of quarterback pressure.
In fact, Marshall’s defense sits in the top 10 in Adjusted Sack Rate on Passing Downs, which spells disaster against a subpar USF offensive line that ranks 114th in that same category.
Can Marshall Finish Drives?
While Marshall has an outstanding defense (top 20 in yards per play allowed), the same can’t be said of its offense, which ranks outside the top 80 in yards per play — with an S&P rank of almost 100 spots worse than its offense (110 vs. 13).
The Herd especially struggle to finish drives. They rank 115th in the nation in red zone scoring percentage (.769) and have only scored touchdowns on half of their trips inside the 20 (26 of 52).
Bet to Watch
By Collin Wilson