Marshall vs


at Montgomery
Fri, Dec 25
11:30 AM Pacific
Rotation: 279
Odds: Buffalo -4.5, Total: 54.5

Game Analysis

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Buffalo (-4.5)  30   Marshall  26

This game may be decided by the battle between Buffalo’s exceptional rushing attack against Marshall’s excellent run defense, although Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease is more than capable of carrying the Bulls’ offense if called upon to do so. I’m sure you’ve heard about how prolific Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson has been, as he’s rushed for 1072 yards at 7.6 ypr in just 6 games, but backup Kevin Marks has been just as efficient with 603 yards at 7.8 ypr. Buffalo averaged over 300 rushing yards as a team and was 1.3 yards per rushing play better than average (7.2 yprp against teams that would allow 5.9 yprp to an average team). However, the Bulls took advantage of 3 really bad run defenses by averaging 435 rushing yards at 8.8 yprp against Bowling Green, Kent State and Akron, who all rank among the 12 worst run defenses in the nation based on compensated yprp allowed. In their other 3 games against Northern Illinois, Miami-Ohio, and Ball State the Bulls averaged only 5.1 yprp, which is not much more than the 5.0 yprp that an average FBS team would gain against that trio of defenses.

Marshall has a very good run defense that yielded just 3.6 yprp to teams that would combine to average 4.3 yprp against an average defensive team. The Thundering Herd run defense won’t be quite as good without LB Tavante Beckett, who averaged 10 tackles per game and was named the CUSA Defensive Player of the Year but has decided to forego the Bowl game to pursue a pro career.

All is not lost for Buffalo if Marshall neutralizes their run game as the 3 decent run defenses the Bulls faced did, as quarterback Kyle Vantrease averaged 9.7 yards per pass play in the 3 games that Bulls didn’t dominate with their ground assault, and I project Vantrease to average 8.1 yppp against a mediocre Marshall pass defense (their 5.2 yppp allowed was mostly against horrible quarterbacks that would combine to average only 5.1 yppp against an average defensive team). Buffalo also threw the ball more often in the 3 games in which they didn’t dominate with their rushing attack, which is a reason that they managed to average 7.0 yards per play or more in all 6 of their games. I doubt they’ll be able to be that efficient against Marshall’s tough defense (even without Beckett) and I project the Bulls at 6.3 yppl in this game.

Marshall’s offense was consistently good for most of the season but the Herd came out of a 3 week layoff and were shutout by Rice and then managed just 5.2 yppl and 13 points against UAB two weeks later in a CUSA Championship game loss. For the season Marshall was 0.4 yppl worse than average offensively (6.1 yppl against teams that would allow 6.5 yppl to an average team) while Buffalo has been 0.5 yppl worse than average defensively (5.5 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.0 yppl against an average defense, adjusted for facing Miami-Ohio’s horrible backup QB). Marshall’s lead running back Brandon Knox left the team to pursue an NFL career that will never happen, as he’s a worse than average running back that managed just 4.8 ypr despite facing teams that would allow 6.0 ypr to an average FBS running back. Instead of using this game to impress NFL scouts he’s let his insufficient regular season numbers make his case, which won’t be good enough in my opinion. What are some of these kids thinking? Anyway, not having Knox is not a significant loss and Marshall is projected to average a decent 5.7 yppl in this game

The projected total yards are pretty even but Buffalo projects to have about a 2-point edge in projected turnovers and overall the math favors the Bulls by 5 points. I shaded that down a bit because bowl favorites that lost their conference championship game by more than 7 points are just 3-20 ATS over the years.

I have no interest in the side or the total in this game.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Marshall
  • Buffalo


  • Run Plays 38.0 30.0
  • Run Yards 184.9 90.3
  • YPRP 5.0 3.6


  • Pass Comp 17.8 18.4
  • Pass Att 29.1 29.3
  • Comp % 61.1% 62.9%
  • Pass Yards 226.6 184.7
  • Sacks 0.8 2.9
  • Sack Yards 5.9 18.0
  • Sack % 2.6% 9.0%
  • Pass Plays 29.9 32.2
  • Net Pass Yards 220.7 166.7
  • YPPP 7.4 5.2


  • Total Plays 67.9 62.2
  • Total Yards 411.5 275.0
  • YPPL 6.1 4.4


  • Int 1.1 0.4
  • Int % 3.8% 1.5%
  • Fumbles 0.2 1.1
  • Turnovers 1.3 1.6
  • Points 30.6 12.6
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