In a rare Christmas Day bowl game, the Marshall Thundering Herd and Buffalo Bulls meet in the Camellia Bowl on Friday at the Cramton Bowl in Alabama. This is another bowl game that has been moved to Montgomery because of Covid-19. The Montgomery Bowl was played at the Cramton Bowl as well.
Both games have limited tickets available, so from a financial standpoint, at least the bowls can pick up a few bucks. It’s not much, but it’s something. This bowl season has been terrific financially thus far for me. With Hawaii covering on Christmas Eve, we haven’t missed a pick yet. I intend on keeping it that way on Christmas in the Camellia Bowl.
Marshall and Buffalo have to be thrilled about playing in this bowl game. No, not quite, but it’s an additional game to tape on for scouts. In the case of Marshall, they are going to be without two important starters, two offensive players and their most disruptive linebacker. Conversely, all signs are that star running back Jaret Patterson is going to play in the Camellia Bowl.
That can’t be confirmed at this point, but reports suggest that Patterson is expected to play on Friday despite being injured. Patterson doesn’t need to do much more to show that he can play in the NFL. However, he gets respect from me to show the willingness to play in a bowl, especially with an injury. Marshall had a promising campaign underway early in the season. The Thundering Herd were feeling really good about where their season was going, though things quickly went south recently.
Lowly Rice ended their 7-0 season with a 20-0 victory on December 5, and then UAB followed up to beat Marshall 22-13 on December 18. The potential for an undefeated season went badly in a hurry. Down their starting running back, an offensive lineman, and their best linebacker, Marshall will look to find some motivation versus the Bulls. Head below for our free Marshall vs. Buffalo pick for December 25, 2020.
Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Buffalo Bulls Camellia Bowl Betting Odds:
Marshall vs. Buffalo Prediction:
Marshall will be without the services of running back Brendan Knox, offensive lineman Josh Ball, and linebacker Tavante Beckett. All are done at Marshall and will be preparing for the draft after opting out of the Camellia Bowl. Knox is replaceable, as Marshall has some solid runners behind him on the depth chart. However, Ball and Beckett not playing is worth noting for Marshall.
I will put emphasis on Beckett because he was Marshall’s best tackler. He was one of the catalysts for this very good defense. Marshall conceded just 277.7 yards and 12.6 points per game this season. Without their best tackler, Buffalo should be able to take advantage of that with their vaunted running game led by Jaret Patterson.
Patterson and Kevin Marks have been an unstoppable train for Buffalo on the ground. Patterson gained 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns on 7.6 yards per carry. Even if Patterson happens to pull out of this game or isn’t functioning at full health because of an injury, Marks is more than ready to carry the load. Marks ran for 603 yards and 6 touchdowns on 7.8 yards per carry. As a team, the Bulls ran for 309.2 yards per game. That put them in elite company at the top of the FBS.
Kyle Vantrease is solid enough as a complement to the run game at quarterback. Vantrease passed for 1,186 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He wasn’t asked to do much, but if that were the case, I think Vantrease could be relied on to put up much bigger numbers. Conversely, the quarterback situation for Marshall isn’t pretty. Grant Wells has regressed hard late in the season for the Thundering Herd. Wells threw no touchdowns and 5 interceptions against a bad Rice team two games ago for an awful performance.
He wasn’t that useless against UAB the following game, but threw for just 138 yards. Overall, his numbers look good with 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on 60.8% completions. The freshman hit a wall after a big performance against Middle Tennessee on November 14. If rumors of players arguing amongst one another are true, it would make sense they were no shows against Rice and UAB. This isn’t my favorite bowl pick, but Buffalo by a touchdown. Marshall likely has no motivation to play well here after imploding late in the season.