at Frisco TX
Tue, Dec 19
6:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 215
Odds: Marshall +13, Total: 53

Game Analysis

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Note: I released Marshall as a Best Bet when the line was +13. Now there are substantiated rumors that UTSA QB Frank Harris may not play due to nagging injuries and the line has dropped to 7.5 points. Harris did not have a good season (0.7 yards per pass play worse than average) but I would make the UTSA offense 4.7 points worse if he doesn’t play – and I’d still prefer Marshall plus the points. I’d make it Marshall 22 – UTSA 24 if Harris doesn’t play.

1-Star Best Bet – *Marshall (+13)  22   UTSA  28

The line on this game has gone from 8.5 to 13 points and I think that move is unjustified and has supplied us with enough line value to take the big dog with a solid defense.

Marshall’s starting quarterback Cam Fancher has decided to transfer but Fancher was 0.8 yards per pass play worse than average and had a 3.6% interception rate. Cole Pennington is expected to start this game and he was 1.3 yppp worse than average in his two starts and threw 6 interceptions on just 79 passes. He shouldn’t be that bad going forward, given that he completed 66% of his passes in his two starts and had just 12 passes defended against him, which equates to 2.5 interceptions (3.2% rate). Leading receiver Caleb Coombs has decided to transfer, but Coombs averaged only 5.6 yards per target while the rest of the wide receivers combined to average 7.6 YPT and Pennington averaged 7.4 yards per pass play in the week 13 game that Coombs missed. The Herd’s star running back Rasheen Ali is expected to play rather than opting out, but his absence wouldn’t be that significant, as his 4.9 ypr against FBS teams this season isn’t that impressive (although it’s better than his backup). The run attack will be hurt by Fancher’s absence, however, as he ran for 487 yards at 6.0 yard per run (excluding sacks). Overall, Fancher is only worth about 2.2 points and the line on this game moved much more on the news that he was transferring.

UTSA will be without the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, edge rusher Trey Moore, who has decided to transfer and will not play in this game. Moore has 14 sacks and the next best on the team was 4 sacks. I calculate that Moore is worth 1.5 points and I think that’s on the conservative side. Moore being out is worth nearly as much as Fancher being out for Marshall and I project 342 yards at 4.8 yppl for the Thundering Herd in this game, which includes the absence of one of Marshall’s starting offensive linemen.

Frank Harris is a legend at UTSA, and he has a couple of really good seasons in 2021 and 2022. However, he lost a lot of receiving talent and a big play receiver did not emerge in 2023. Harris completed 65% of his passes but he averaged a sub-par 11.5 yards per completion and averaged only 6.7 yards per pass play against teams that would combine to allow 7.5 yppp to an average FBS quarterback. Harris completed 70% of his passes and averaged 12.4 ypc last season, so he’s declined significantly without a pair of last year’s top receivers. Harris did improve after he returned from a 2-game absence in week 6 and I’ll use the numbers over this final 8 games (-0.3 yppp) for my projection in this game. UTSA’s offense has been 0.1 yppl worse than average in the 8 games since Harris returned from injury and Marshall’s defense is also 0.1 yppl worse than average.

UTSA is expected to score 33 points based on the market spread and total (13 and 53), but the Roadrunners only averaged 31.7 points per game this season against a schedule of teams with an average defensive rating that is 0.4 yppl worse than average Marshall’s defense (i.e. about 3 points per game). UTSA racked up a lot of points against some bad defensive teams, but they averaged only 24 points in 5 games against teams that were 0.3 yppl worse than average or better defensively and are projected to score just 28.5 points in this game against a solid Marshall defense.

My math favors UTSA by just 8 points, which is close to the opening line of 8.5 points. I don’t understand why the line has moved 4.5 points given that UTSA loss of the best defensive player in their league is just as costly as Marshall being without Fancher. All the adjustments for player absences are only worth 0.5 points in the Roadrunners’ favor so there is clearly line value on the side of Marshall.

I also think this bowl game against a 6-6 Sun Belt team may be tough to get up for, as UTSA had aspirations of winning their conference and being the group of 5 representative for a New Year’s 6 bowl game. Pre-New Year’s bowl favorites of 8 points or more (excluding the major bowls) are just 52-97-3 ATS over the years, including 15-44-3 ATS for a team that is coming off a loss (UTSA lost by 13 to Tulane in their finale). UTSA applies to a 2-24 big bowl favorite off a loss situation and Marshall applies to a 69-25-2 ATS bowl situation that plays on low scoring teams (that angle is 11-1 on dogs of 9 points or more).

Marshall is a 1-Star Best Bet at +12 points or more (Strong Opinion to +11).

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • UTSA
  • Marshall


  • Run Plays 36.2 32.8
  • Run Yards 189.3 154.5
  • YPRP 5.2 4.7


  • Pass Comp 22.5 19.9
  • Pass Att 34.3 34.9
  • Comp % 65.5% 57.0%
  • Pass Yards 249.1 228.5
  • Sacks 1.9 3.3
  • Sack Yards 12.7 21.4
  • Sack % 5.3% 8.5%
  • Pass Plays 36.3 38.2
  • Net Pass Yards 236.4 207.1
  • YPPP 6.5 5.4


  • Total Plays 72.4 71.0
  • Total Yards 425.8 361.6
  • YPPL 5.9 5.1


  • Int 0.8 0.8
  • Int % 2.4% 2.1%
  • Fumbles 0.6 0.6
  • Turnovers 1.4 1.3
  • Points 31.7 24.7
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