Marshall (9–3) vs. UConn (6–6)
Dec. 26, 11:00 a.m. ET (ESPN)
Reason to watch
The St. Petersburg Bowl will match two of the nation’s top defenses in Marshall and Connecticut. The Thundering Herd have allowed just 18.4 points per game, 14th in the country, while the Huskies (6–6) aren’t far behind, ranking 17th nationally at 19.8 points allowed per game. Both defenses ended the regular season first in their conference against the pass and points allowed and second in total defense.
Keep an eye on: Marshall quarterback Chase Litton
The Herd’s best player this year has been Litton. The true freshman, who won the job in Marshall’s third game of the season, has thrown for 2,387 yards and 22 touchdowns this season with seven interceptions in 10 starts. Litton will have to contend with UConn cornerback Jamar Summers, who is tied for third in the country with seven interceptions. This matchup could be decided by the battle between the Huskies’ strong secondary and Litton’s strong arm and head coach Doc Holliday’s pass-heavy offense.
Did you know…?
On Nov. 21, UConn upset then-No. 18 Houston for the Cougars’ only loss of the season. That 20–17 victory was UConn’s only triumph over a winning team this season and was part of a three-game winning streak that helped make the Huskies bowl-eligible. Outside of Houston, UConn’s five other victories came against teams with a combined record of 7–38.
UConn can thank its defense for earning the program’s first bowl appearance since the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. The Huskies’ offense ranks 120th out of 128 FBS schools and scored only 17 points per game. They were held to single digits three times, including in their regular season finale against Temple when they were held without a touchdown for the second time this season. Marshall has a better offense, but UConn played in the tougher American Athletic Conference than the Herd’s Conference USA. Still, Marshall is a more polished team, and its defense should enjoy feasting on UConn’s lack of offense. The Herd will finish their third consecutive season with 10 or more victories.