The battle to be the best from the Group of Five conferences stands in favor of the Marshall Thundering Herd. Doc Holliday‘s squad currently leads the Northern Illinois 24-13 at the Boca Raton Bowl.
Northern Illinois continues to be the class of the MAC, but they’ve come up short in bowl games recently. Two years ago, the Huskies earned a trip to the Orange Bowl only to fall 31-10 to the Florida State Seminoles. Last season, Northern Illinois came up short in the Poinsettia Bowl against the Utah State Aggies.
The Huskies are in position to lose their third straight bowl game.
Of the two programs, Marshall looks like the team ready to take the next step and build a higher national profile.
The Thundering Herd entered the contest with the nation’s No. 1 offense. The one-two punch of quarterback Rakeem Cato and running back Devon Johnson can be very difficult to slow down. Stopping this offense is almost not an option.
Northern Illinois has been successful slowing Cato. The quarterback finished the half 7-of-12 passing for only 106 yards. All seven passes have been completed to wide receiver Tommy Shuler. But Johnson ran wild with 92 yards only eight carries. Both the quarterback and the running back registered a short rushing touchdown.
The Huskies have been successful moving the ball with 275 total yards through two quarters. In fact, Rod Carey‘s squad drove the ball inside the red zone four times. It came away with only one touchdown.
With the second half about to commence, Northern Illinois must finish on offense. The Huskies can’t allow Marshall’s defensive line to control the line of scrimmage. A few drives that result in touchdowns could get the Huskies back into the game. However, it all depends on whether or not Northern Illinois’ defense stop Marshall’s offense or force turnovers.