1. Making consecutive bowl appearances for the first time in school history, Florida International comes in after winning a school-record eight games. The Golden Panthers closed the season with four victories in their final five College Football Picks
2. Marshall needed overtime to beat East Carolina in its regular-season finale, 34-27, and become bowl eligible. The Thundering Herd won three of their final four games and return to a bowl after a one-year absence, but gave up 30.2 points per contest. Check out the latest NFL Picks
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3. The Golden Panthers will have their hands full with Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, who recorded 21.5 tackles for loss this season (second in the nation). The 6-foot-4 senior forced six fumbles, tied for second in the nation, and his 11 sacks tied for fifth in the country.
4. Marshall averaged just 22 points per game, ranking 98th in the nation, but scored 57 points in its final two contests in wins over Memphis and East Carolina. The Thundering Herd will be challenged by a FIU defense that ranked 16th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 19.4 points.
ESPN, ESPN3.com LINE:
Florida International –4.
ABOUT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (8-4, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference):
The Golden Panthers did their best work early in the season (winning their first three games) and late (winning their final three contests). Senior quarterback Wesley Carroll threw just four interceptions in 303 passing attempts, finishing with 2,224 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. FIU scored 27 points or more in five of its eight victories, and averaged 33.3 points during its current three-game winning streak.
ABOUT MARSHALL (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA):
Facing the 15th-toughest schedule in the nation, the Thundering Herd set a school record by winning five conference games, placing second in the C-USA East Division. Marshall lost three of its first four games before upsetting Louisville 17-13 on Oct. 1. Freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato passed for 341 yards in the victory over East Carolina, but threw 10 interceptions this season. Five of Marshall’s six victories were by seven points or less.
Florida International 27, Marshall 16 – Curry is a major defensive force, but Carroll’s experience will make the difference for the Golden Panthers. Also Check out UFC Odds
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