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Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Colorado State Rams Point Spread - Pick

Marshall Thundering Herd (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Colorado State Rams (7-5 SU, 4-8 ATS)
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 4:30PM EST
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MRSH +5.5/CSU -5.5
Over/Under Total: 58

The Marshall Thundering Herd take on the Colorado State Rams in the New Mexico Bowl on December 16 at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque. It's a battle of 7-5 teams with the Mountain West's Rams and the Conference USA's Thundering Herd. Neither team really finished the season the way they wanted to, as Marshall lost 4 of their last five, while the Rams dropped three of their last four games. Colorado State last played on the 18th with a 42-14 win over San Jose State. Marshall last played on the 25th in a 28-27 loss to Southern Miss. At least both teams enter this game rested, as each squad should put forth a strong effort to win a bowl-game this season.

Though both teams enter this game at 7-5, Colorado State has some advantages that they can put to use. First of all, this is a Mountain West venue where the Rams won this season, beating New Mexico, 27-24, on October 20. They've played, been competitive against, and beaten a higher-caliber of teams this season. Make no mistake, however, as they were not at their best late in the season, failing to cover any of their last 6 spreads. They have a balanced offense that has a lot of firepower, but in the last handful of games, opposing offenses have sometimes beaten up on the Rams' "D."

The Colorado State offense is run smoothly by one of the better quarterbacks in the conference in Nick Stevens. On the season, Stevens has 3484 yards passing, making good use of a nice cast of ball-catchers that include Michael Gallup, who has 1350 yards. Also chipping in has been Olabisi Johnson and Detrich Clark, along with tight end Dalton Fackrell, who has 6 TD catches this season. But they also do a lot of damage on the ground, led by Dalyn Dawkins, who has run for 1349 yards on the ground and 310 through the air. Izzy Matthews (questionable) is also good on the ground and has nine touchdowns this season, with Rashard Boddie adding nice production, as well.

Some key injuries on the defense haven't really helped, but the CSU defense has not been up-to-snuff for the Rams as the season carried on this year. A defense that was mostly-respectable this season started falling apart a little, with Nevada putting up 42, Air Force putting up 45, and Boise State putting up 59 points against this bunch. Josh Watson and Tre Thomas at linebacker have been pretty good, while Kevin Nutt, Jr. and Anthony Hawkins have made some nice plays in the secondary. We'll see if Marshall is cut out to be one of the teams to trouble this defense in this game.

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At one point, Marshall was in a pretty good spot, sitting pretty at 6-1, before the wheels came off a bit down the stretch. Granted, three of the four late-losses they suffered late were exceptionally-close games, but the polish certainly came off for a team that looked poised to contend for conference honors. Against the better teams in the conference, like FIU, FAU, and Southern Miss, they couldn't get it done. Their offense is steady without really being electric in any way. And they can play a little defense, having given up an average of a little over 19 points a game this season.

The Marshall offense is run by Chase Litton, a 6'6" third-year starter who has a lot of experience and ability. He threw a few more picks this season with 12, but was otherwise solid. Their top receiving talent is expected back for this game, as Tyre Brady has missed the last few games. Marcel Williams and Willie Johnson have contributed aerially, with a big contribution from TE Ryan Yurachek, who has nine TD receptions. They offer a nice one-two punch at running back with Tyler King and Keion Davis. They are balanced, without really being explosive. They have a certain dependability to them, but in this matchup, they will need to be on the high-side of what they normally produce to keep pace with the Rams.

How the Marshall defense plays will be a key to this game. If they can't contain the Rams' high-powered offense, they will put too much pressure on an offense that doesn't do well when they don't stay within themselves. For the most part, they've been fairly-respectable—rigid in some spots and less so against the better conference offenses they've faced. And with Colorado State's offense, they will be facing a group that is higher up on the spectrum than whatever level at which they've been able to thrive this season. They get good safety play from Malik Gant and Brandon Drayton. Chase Hancock has made plays at linebacker, while in the secondary, they have also gotten a boost from Chris Jackson and Rodney Allen. They will really need to step up in this game.

These matchups are pretty tough, with there not being any real common threads between the two teams, who each operated in their own realm. Predicting how those two realms will mesh requires a certain amount of pure-speculation. As far as staying closest to their peak, I think Marshall gets the nod, though both teams didn't finish the season the way they would have liked. I see the familiarity of venue and greater firepower on offense helping the Rams get the win and cover. I'm taking Colorado State.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Colorado State Rams minus 5.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Marshall vs. Colorado State game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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