Davonte Allen

CFT Previews: The Boca Raton Bowl

Leave a comment

WHO: Northern Illinois (11-2) vs. Marshall (12-1)

WHAT: The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl

WHERE: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida

WHEN: 6:00 p.m. ET Dec. 23 on ESPN

THE SKINNY: The brand new Boca Raton Bowl has quite the match-up of non-power conference champions. The champions of Conference USA (Marshall) and the MAC (Northern Illinois) should provide for a good, quality game. For Marshall, it may be one last attempt to prove itself to be the top non-power conference champion after passed over by Boise State for a spot in the New Years Six line-up. Marshall and NIU combined for a record of 23-3 this season.

Marshall’s offense centers around the veteran quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato should be able to find his targets — Tommy Shuler and Davonte Allen are his top two receivers — against NIU’s secondary, which ranks 64th in the nation in pass defense. Cato may have to extend some plays with his feet though, as NIU should be expected to bring pressure in the backfield. NIU recorded 30 sacks this season, but they go up against a Marshall offensive line that has done well in protecting their quarterback. Cato may have to extend some plays with his feet at times. Fortunately for the Conference USA champions and head coach Doc Holliday, this is something Cato does well. Cato has rushed for 457 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Marshall went 3-0 against the MAC this season with wins against Miami, Ohio and Akron, but NIU will be the biggest test for the Thundering Herd. NIU started the season off a little bit on a slow note as they looked to replace Jordan Lynch, but the Huskies ended the season hitting their stride at a very good time. Drew Hare has come along as a dual-threat player under center, but the running game is powered mostly by Cameron Stingily, a tough and physical back with the ability to wear down Marshall’s defense.

Marshall has won three straight bowl games dating back to 2009. The Huskies of NIU are looking to snap a two-game losing streak in postseason bowl action. Head coach Rod Carey is 0-2 in bowl games, including one Orange Bowl loss to Florida State in an interim role at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren left the Huskies for NC State.

THE PREDICTION: NIU 34, Marshall 31

Virginia Tech somehow beats Marshall in triple overtime

2 Comments

Sometimes you just have to take a win any way you can get it. That was the case Saturday afternoon for Virginia Tech in rainy Blacksburg, Virginia. The Hokies found a way to knock off upset-minded Marshall in triple overtime, 29-21. It was anything but pretty.

Virginia Tech needed a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to tie Marshall after not scoring since the first quarter of the game. Logan Thomas had another rough performance but led the Hokies to the tie with a short pass to Willie Byrn. The game would go to overtime after Marshall for some reason opted to hold on to timeouts at the end of the fourth quarter rather than preserve some time for a potential drive. Once the game got to overtime, kicking woes would be seen on both sides.

Virginia Tech walk-on kicker Ethan Keyserling missed on a 50-yard attempt after the Hokies offense moved backward on the first overtime possession. Marshall would have their first field goal attempt blocked. In the second overtime Virginia Tech forced Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato to lose a fumble, nearly resulting in a fumble return fat guy touchdown walk-off win. Instead the Hokies would miss another field goal attempt by Keyserling.

In the third overtime Virginia Tech finally put a score on the board with a short touchdown run by Thomas. The Hokies picked up a two-point conversion, as required starting in the third overtime of a game. Virginia Tech got away with what appeared to be a pass interference on a third down throw to the end zone for Marshall, and the final pass to the end zone fell right through the hands of Davonte Allen to end the game.

Virginia Tech is now 3-1 but they have looked awfully shaky getting there. The offense failed to do much throughout the bulk of the game but they came through in the end when absolutely needed. Virginia Tech also had two turnovers but they forced three on defense. If there is one thing we can say about Virginia Tech it may be that they remain very much a question in the ACC Coastal Division.