Colorado State entered this season with high hopes and was thought to be a legitimate contender for the Mountain West title. The Rams struggled down the stretch, though, losing three of their final four games of the campaign. Motivation will be a serious question when they embark upon the New Mexico Bowl against the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Marshall Bowl History
Doc Holliday has been with Marshall for eight seasons, and this is going to be the fifth time he’s brought the Herd to a bowl.
They say that coaching often wins bowl games. If that’s the case, Marshall should be a strong play at the New Mexico Bowl. The Thundering Herd have won each of their last five bowl appearances dating back to the Little Caesars Bowl in 2009. In fact, Marshall’s success in bowl games dates back even longer than that; the team is 10-1 in its last 11 postseason appearances dating back to 1998.
Colorado State Bowl History
This marks five straight seasons for the Rams in a bowl game. But at some point, the bar needs to be set higher than the New Mexico Bowl. They’ve played in the Potato Bowl, the Arizona Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl and here at the New Mexico Bowl in the last five seasons, winning just once in Jim McElwain’s penultimate season in 2013.
Mike Bobo has led the Rams to consecutive 7-6 seasons, and a loss in the New Mexico Bowl will continue that streak. He has to get over the hump at some point if he ever wants to take a step back toward the SEC, where he was a coordinator for years. So this game is incredibly important for his image, if nothing else.
Why Marshall Will Win the New Mexico Bowl
Marshall might have only gone 7-5 this year, but don’t let that fool you. This was a team that put up a really good fight against N.C. State before we knew the Wolfpack were going to be the third- or fourth-best team in the ACC. The Herd were beaten by five points by Florida Atlantic, two points by UTSA and one point by Southern Miss. A break here or there, and Marshall would have been a 10-win team.
This Marshall defense is fantastic. The team held five foes to 10 points or fewer, and though none of those games were against elite level squads, even keeping Lane Kiffin’s Owls to 30 points is something to be proud of.
Why Colorado State Will Win the New Mexico Bowl
The raw talent on this team can’t be denied. Nick Stevens isn’t going to be one of the top quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft, but he’s going to have a shot to be selected, especially if he shows well here in the New Mexico Bowl. He threw for 27 touchdowns in his senior campaign and averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt.
Dalyn Dawkins was one of the top running backs in the Mountain West this season, and running mate Izzy Matthews is quick as a whip and is always tricky to bring down.
But the man of the hour for CSU is Michael Gallup. NFL scouts will definitely be paying attention to what Gallup does in his final collegiate game. He has that prototypical NFL build at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, and he’s amassed 2,622 yards and 21 touchdowns in his two seasons in Fort Collins. Marshall won’t be able to match up with him. No man has a greater ability to take this game over all by himself than Gallup.
New Mexico Bowl Prediction
Though we aren’t enamored with this Colorado State team, the level of competition it faced in the Mountain West was far superior to what Marshall had to deal with in Conference USA. The Thundering Herd are definitely on our list of potential upset candidates in the bowl season, but we’re reluctantly going to go with what is clearly the more talented team in our eyes.
Stevens and Gallup are both looking to show out for the scouts who will be watching this game intently, and we’ve seen these two put on some massive shows together. The Thundering Herd have a strong defense, but they haven’t seen anything quite like a fringe NFL-caliber quarterback and a potential NFL superstar wide receiver on the field at the same time.
New Mexico Bowl Pick: Colorado State 35, Marshall 28
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