Gasparilla Bowl Spread: Marshall vs. South Florida Prediction

Payton Matthews | Updated Dec 13, 2018

jordan cronkrite

USF has a terrific 1-2 punch at running back in Florida transfer Jordan Cronkrite (1,095 yards, nine TDs) and freshman Johnny Ford (737 yards, eight TDs).

December 20, 2018, 8:00 PM ET
Raymond James Stadium
Pointspread -3 -115
Moneyline -160
Over / Under o +50


Betting Action


Pointspread +3 -105
Moneyline +135
Over / Under u +50


Betting Action


The lone college football bowl game on Thursday, Dec. 20 is from Tampa as the South Florida Bulls play a home matchup against the Marshall Thundering Herd in the Gasparilla Bowl.

Gasparilla Bowl Betting Analysis

This would be the only bowl game where we could have put “at” instead of vs. in the headline as the Bulls play their home games at the site of this bowl, Raymond James Stadium. The NFL’s Buccaneers also play there. It’s one of two bowl games held at the stadium along with the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl.

Arguably the worst professional sports stadium in the USA is across Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg and that’s Tropicana Field, where MLB’s Rays play. That’s where this bowl had been held but it had been drawing flies in recent years. Who wants to go to Florida in December and sit in a mausoleum? Thus, it was moved to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium.

It’s South Florida’s second time playing in this bowl, which has had a few names. The Bulls played in the inaugural 2008 game and beat Memphis. It’s Marshall’s third trip to the bowl, winning in 2011 over Florida International (20-10) and in 2015 over UConn (16-10).

South Florida and Marshall have never played in football.

Marshall Thundering Herd

The Herd finished second in Conference USA’s East Division, a game behind Middle Tennessee. Marshall closed the regular season in a game that wasn’t even on the school’s original schedule. Virginia Tech essentially gave the school a bunch of money to travel to Blacksburg and play the Hokies, only if Virginia Tech was able to get bowl eligible with a win. Tech had to upset Virginia the week before for the game to even be played, and the Hokies did win. Then they crushed Marshall 41-20. Herd coach Doc Holliday is a 5-0 SU and ATS in five bowl appearances at the school. Last year, they beat Colorado State 31-28 in the New Mexico Bowl. The key here will be Marshall’s run defence, which ranks Top 5 nationally in allowing just 2.9 yards per carry. No opposing back reached 100 yards this season. Marshall has failed to cover its past seven Thursday games.

South Florida Bulls

South Florida, of the American Athletic Conference, looked like one of the best Group of Five teams deep into October as the Bulls started 7-0, which included victories over Power 5 schools Georgia Tech and Illinois. USF was ranked 21st in the country when it visited Houston and was blown apart 57-36 to start a season-ending five-game losing streak. The defence was atrocious in that span, surrendering an average of 39.6 points. USF has a terrific 1-2 punch at running back in Florida transfer Jordan Cronkrite (1,095 yards, nine TDs) and freshman Johnny Ford (737 yards, eight TDs). The Bulls average 202.5 yards on the ground. Alabama transfer QB Blake Barnett is also a running threat (313 yards, eight TDs), but it’s not clear as of this writing if he will play. He missed two of the final three games with a shoulder injury. That USF offence has a new play-caller in special teams/tight ends coach Justin Burke because OC Sterlin Gilbert took the McNeese State head coaching job.

Thundering Herd vs. Bulls Prediction