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Losing in their respective conference championships, Buffalo and Marshall seek to end the season on a high.
A dominant second quarter of Ball State was too much for an injured Bulls team after an impressive undefeated regular season. The herd continued to fight in the position of defender, achieving only eight submissions against a UAB defense that did not register a single sack.
Both Marshall and Buffalo finished 12-2 combined in the season, surpassing the total in four street games. Marshall is 6-0 straight in this series that dates back to 1999, with the last meeting taking place at MAC in 2004.
Jaret Patterson’s injury was a direct factor in the loss of the Buffalo MAC Championship. The running back received mention of Heisman throughout the season, but was rolled by the defense of Ball State.
There was no update on Patterson as of this writing, but head coach Lance Leipold was quoted saying that Patterson plans to play in the Camellia Bowl.
The health of Buffalo’s running back is critical, as Patterson is the second most evasive back and has the fourth largest yard after attempted contact in the country, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Bulls pass the ball in 66% of offensive snaps, as quarterback Kyle Vantrease was asked to pass only when necessary. Buffalo is out of the top 100 in passing attempts, reflecting a 5.9-yard average third-run distance.
Leipold’s defense was not sustained in the MAC Championship game, with Ball State averaging 5.3 points per trip beyond the 40-yard line. The Cardinals did most of their damage in standard downs, as half of Ball State’s possessions saw two or more first downs.
Buffalo’s programming strength decreased to 135, by Sagarin’s ratings, after a defeat to Ball State.
Marshall Thundering Herd
One of the biggest drops in FBS shares is that of Marshall, who remained undefeated in the first seven games before being eliminated by Rice. Quarterback Grant Wells battled the Owls, posting five interceptions. These fights continued until the beginning of the Conference USA Championship game against UAB.
Wells would finish 8 of 23 on passes and convert only 3 of 15 third and fourth down attempts.
Marshall was not challenged throughout the season. Its programming force is currently at 128, by Sagarin.
UAB achieved a 64% success rate on standard descents, averaging seven yards per game on the ground, while dominating possession time for another 41 minutes.
Withdrawals will play an important role in this game, as stated by top tackler Tavante Beckett and running back Brenden Knox for the NFL Draft.
Knox had 185 attempts in the season for an average of 4.8 yards per load. Now, Sheldon Evans and Knowledge McDaniel will be asked to pick up the cargo.
Beckett may not be as big a loss as expected, as he made more wrong tackles than anyone on the team. Opponent defenders also completed 11 of 15 passes when shooting at him.
Analysis and choice of bets
The strength of the schedule can be used as a useful indicator in a bowl season, when the teams’ sample data came directly from a conference game.
Both Marshall and Buffalo had the easiest route in college football from an adversary point of view. Even with MAC East competition, the Bulls achieved a poor rating in offensive line yards, material rate and almost less effort on special SP + teams.
Marshall x Buffalo confrontation matrix
Wells may be limited in passing attempts in this game, as there is a clear advantage for Marshall in the ground game.
The herd is among the top 15 in line yards, energy success and material rate. Buffalo defense is 65th in the race success rate, while Ball State has proven that sustainable impulses are the best way to beat bulls.
The loss of Knox and his 887 running yards is difficult from a cumulative point of view, but McDaniel and Evans were more explosive and elusive in their number of crackles. Both running backs have larger yards after the average contact and combined for the same number of tackles lost in 105 fewer attempts.
Despite the loss of a first-rate defender and a leading running back, coach Doc Holliday is one of the most prepared coaches in recent postseason history. Supporting Marshall has been profitable in his seven career bowling games.
Whether Patterson is in full swing or not, Marshall’s defense will do enough to keep Buffalo’s score low. The herd is ranked in the top 10 in Defensive Race Success Rate and the first against explosiveness. Marshall does not lose many tackles, having a PFF rating of 2nd.
Although the bets in 2020 were a crapshoot so many days in advance, the Camellia Bowl could be of great value to Marshall earlier if Patterson is announced.
To choose: Marshall +3.5 or better