While most people are opening presents, the Marshall Thundering Herd and Buffalo Bulls will be getting ready to play in the Camellia Bowl at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. Marshall is sitting at 7-2 on the season but is on a two-game losing streak after falling to the UAB Blazers 22-13. In that game, freshman quarterback Grant Wells finished 8-of-23 for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Bulls are 5-1 and picked up their only loss last time out against the Ball State Cardinals 38-28. Quarterback junior Kyle Vantrease had a decent game as he finished going 29-of-42 for a career-high 365 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
These two programs have faced off eight times in the past and the Thundering Herd have never lost. Let’s take a closer look at both of these programs in order to figure out which team will have the advantage and where we should place our wagers to find a little extra green in our stockings.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Friday afternoon.)
The line has moved slightly in favor of the default home team in this one, furthering their favorite status as the week has gone on. Buffalo opened as a three-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Friday, now is favored by 4.5 points at the majority of sportsbooks for this contest. 69 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Bulls and giving nearly the points as they look to earn the victory in the Camellia Bowl.
The total for this contest has climbed somewhat during this week. After opening at 53 points, the total has bounced up to 54, 54.5 or 55 points, depending on your sportsbook of choice. A hefty majority, 70 percent, of the bets on the total are expecting this contest to still end up going over the mark.
Game-time Weather: It’s going to be a nice afternoon for Christmas Day in the Yellowhammer State. Temperatures at kickoff will be in the mid-40s under sunny skies. The mercury will drop slightly into the low-40s during the game with the real-feel temperature expected in the high-30s with no chance of precipitation in the forecast. Winds are expected from the west-northwest around 12 miles an hour with the wind gusts kicking up to about 15 miles per hour during the game.
Continue to Get GainesIn order for the passing attack for Marshall to be successful, they will need senior wide receiver Xavier Gaines to be at his best. On the season he has caught 26 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns. Gaines only had one catch in the Conference USA Championship Game against UAB but it was a 70-yard touchdown pass. He needs to be the center of the offense in order for the passing attack to be thriving but as much as we know that, Buffalo is scheming how to stop it.
The Buffalo Bulls have allowed 217.8 passing yards per game so there is potentially a good amount of yardage available for Gaines to get. In their last game against Ball State, Yoheinz Tyler led the Cardinals in receiving yards and finished with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. If Gaines can manage to get that performance, Marshall will be more than happy with it.
Marshall Injury Report:
OUT: OL Josh Ball, LB Tavante Beckett, RB Brenden Knox, WR Broc Thompson
Strong Rushing AttackJunior running back Jaret Patterson has been one of the best rushers in the entire country as he has dominated every time he has touched the football. He played just six games this season and finished with 141 carries for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns. He only had one game where he struggled and that was last week in the MAC Championship Game against the Ball State Cardinals where he finished with 18 touches for 47 yards and a touchdown. He was injured in that game, but did return in the fourth quarter and is expected to play. If you haven’t seen Patterson play, he runs downfield like Derrick Henry (without the size) and is having very similar results. If the Thundering Herd cannot figure out how to defend the run, it’ll be a long night for Marshall.
This is going to be a matchup to highlight as the biggest strength of this Marshall team is their defense as they rank second in rushing yards per game allowed with 88.9 and are only behind the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Blazers ran the ball effectively as they finished with 216 rushing yards on 52 attempts to defeat the Thundering Herd. The game plan is there and this will be what to watch for.
Buffalo Injury Report:
No Injuries Reported.
- Buffalo: 4-0 ATS following a straight up loss
- Buffalo: 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games
- Marshall: 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win
- Marshall: 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games