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Marshall WR Obi Obialo makes way into transfer portal

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One of the best names in the sport, and a Marshall Thundering Herd football player to boot, is the latest to hit the portal.

Over the weekend, Obi Obialo announced on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The move is normally the first step in a departure, although the wide receiver could always return to the Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

“I want to thank all of the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today,” Obialo wrote.

Obialo also confirmed in the same post that he will be leaving the Herd as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will serve as his final season of collegiate eligibility.

Obialo actually began his playing career at Oklahoma State as a three-star 2016 signee who was originally a walk-on.  In May of 2017, Obialo opted to transfer from OSU.  A month later, he moved on to Marshall.

In 2017 and 2018, Obialo started 16 games for the Thundering Herd, including all 13 in the latter season.  In that 2018 season, Obialo was second on the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (505) and receiving touchdowns (four).

A foot injury sidelined Obialo for all but one game this past season.  In that limited action, he caught 18 passes for 244 yards.

Because he played in just the four games, that will allow Obialo to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.  The move also preserved a year of eligibility that he will presumably use elsewhere.

Conference USA releases 2020 football schedule

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The calendar reads 2020 and now Conference USA is ready to start filling in dates this fall for the upcoming football campaign.

In a release issued on Wednesday, the league announced dates and opponents for their 2020 football schedule. You can find team-by-team schedules here or the overall composite week-by-week schedule here.

CUSA will once again play eight conference games and will essentially see the league slate from last season flip venues from home to road. The divisional alignment is set to remain the same, with 14 teams split evenly across an East and West Division.

There will be plenty of new faces for the upcoming campaign in the conference, including at reigning champion Florida Atlantic after Lane Kiffin’s departure to Ole Miss and the hiring of former Florida State head coach Willie TaggartJeff Traylor also takes over at UTSA and Ricky Rahne will be the new head coach at Old Dominion.

The Conference USA title game is also scheduled for Saturday, December 5 and will mark the quite the anniversary as the league begins its 25th season of play on the gridiron.

UCF tops Marshall in highest-scoring Gasparilla Bowl

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It may not be where UCF has become accustomed to playing this time of the year, but the Knights are ending their 2019 season with 10 wins and a bowl victory. UCF (10-3, 6-2 AAC) finished off their season on a winning note by topping Marshall (8-5, 6-2 Conference USA)in the highest-scoring Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl Monday afternoon, 48-25.

Marshall imploded early in the game with five turnovers on each of their first five offensive possessions. Isaiah Green had a third-down pass intercepted on the third play of the game and Richie Grant returned the football 39 yards for a defensive touchdown to give UCF an early lead. Green connected on a 45-yard pass to Armani Levias on the first play of the ensuing possession but Levias fumbled the football at the end of the play. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, Marshall turned the football over again and the Knights defense struck again with Tre’Mon Morris-Brash returning a fumble 45 yards for a score.

UCF built a 31-7 lead in the third quarter before Marshall began to get the ball moving and a better grip on the football. But by then, the damage had essentially been done.

Dillon Gabriel passed for 260 yards and two touchdowns for UCF before getting some rest at the end of the game. Marlon Williams had a big day with seven receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown in the winning effort. As a team, UCF rushed for 310 yards and out-gained Marshall 587-351. The game was also a bit testy in the second half as Big Ten officials did their best to keep control before things devolved into something ugly. Marshall’s Darrius Hodge was ejected from the game late in the third quarter after coming off the bench to get involved in some verbal jabbing at the end of a play. It was his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game, which results in an automatic ejection. Making his ejection unique was the fact Marshall was on offense at the time. The two teams combined for 18 penalties and 167 penalty yards with a handful of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties distributed to players on both teams.

The 73 combined points scored in the game are the most in a Gasparilla Bowl. The previous record point total was 69 scored by Rutgers and UCF in 2009 (Rutgers won 45-24) when the game was called the St. Petersburg Bowl. It was the second year of the bowl game’s existence.

With the win, UCF head coach Josh Heupel has won his first bowl game as a head coach. UCF also has won 10 or more games for a third consecutive season for the first time in program history. UCF could be lining up a possible spot in the final top 25 rankings, which would also be the third consecutive season for the first time in program history.

UCF’s 2020 season will begin at home next year with a home game against Mack Brown and UNC. The 2020 season opener is currently scheduled for a Thursday night kickoff on Sept. 3, 2020. UCF will also face Georgia Tech in Atlanta for a second game against a power conference opponent. The Knights also host FIU and Florida A&M in non-conference play. UCF will get some key division and conference games at home with home dates against Cincinnati and Temple, but a road trip to Memphis also looms.

Marshall’s 2020 season is currently scheduled to begin on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 at East Carolina. The Thundering Herd will host Pittsburgh and Boise State and travel to Ohio in other non-conference matchups before jumping into the Conference USA schedule.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 23 Viewer’s Guide

College Football Bowl Preview
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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at a very light Dec. 23 bowl menu, one that features just a single matchup. Although, for the freaks in the audience, this lone postseason game has been a bad, bad, bad boy.

WHO: UCF (9-3) vs. Marshall (8-4)
WHAT: The 12th Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
TICKETS: Click here
THE SKINNY: This postseason will likely be a culture shock for the Central Florida football program.  The past two seasons, UCF has played in such marquee New Year’s Six games as the Fiesta Bowl (2018) and Peach Bowl (2017).  Of course, the Knights were undefeated in the regular season those two years, with their three losses in 2019 the most since 2016. … Marshall, meanwhile, has absolutely owned the postseason over the past two decades. The Thundering Herd will ride a seven-game bowl winning streak into Tampa — current head coach Doc Holliday is a perfect 6-0 —  and has won 12 of the last 13 they have played in the postseason. Overall, the program is 12-2 all-time in bowl games. … Marshall and UCF have met 11 times previously, with eight of those matchups coming when both were members of Conference USA.  The Knights lead the series 8-3 — in fact, they have won eight in a row against the Thundering Herd — with the last meeting coming in 2012. … If they can get past Marshall, UCF will win 10-plus games in three-straight seasons for the first time in program history. … Both teams come into Monday on a relative roll, with the Herd winning six of seven and the Knights five of six. … True freshman Dillon Gabriel took the reins of UCF’s offense early on in the campaign, with the quarterback finishing the regular season with 3,393 yards and 27 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions.  Marshall is in the middle of the pack (tied for 67th nationally) in pass defense, giving up 227.8 yards per game. … As is the case in most games, turnovers will likely play a big role.  When Marshall turns the ball over two or fewer times, they are 8-0.  UCF is plus-nine in turnover margin in its wins, minus-seven in its losses. … Marshall won last year’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, their third appearance in the game (3-0). UCF has appeared twice, losing both of those games. … The Herd will cover the substantial point spread, but will also see their postseason roll slowed a bit by the Knights.
THE LINE: Marshall, +17
THE PREDICTION: UCF 45, Marshall 31

Marshall posts a league-high eight First Team All-Conference USA selections

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Florida Atlantic won the conference, but Marshall won the All-Conference USA team.

The Thundering Herd, who finished second to FAU in the East Division, placed eight players on the first team to FAU’s five. (However, three of the eight first-team Herd were specialists.)

The conference will not name individual awards until Wednesday, but here’s betting that Florida Atlantic will have the winner there. Sophomore quarterback Chris Robison threw for nearly 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns, while tight end Harrison Bryant led all FBS tight ends with 61 grabs and 1,004 yards while scoring seven touchdowns.

Western Kentucky came in third with four first-team selections.


OFFENSE

QB- Chris Robison, R-So., Florida Atlantic
QB- J’Mar Smith, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech
RB- Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
RB- Brenden Knox, R-So., Marshall
OL- Cameron Clark, R-Sr., Charlotte
OL- Junior Diaz, Gr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Brandon Walton, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Levi Brown, R-Sr., Marshall
OL- Miles Pate, R-Sr., WKU
TE- Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
WR- Jaelon Darden, Jr., North Texas
WR- Quez Watkins, R-Jr., Southern Miss
WR- Lucky Jackson, R-Sr., WKU

DEFENSE
DT- Channing Hames, R-Sr., Marshall
DT- Garrett Marino, R-Sr., UAB
DE- Alex Highsmith, R-Sr., Charlotte
DE- DeAngelo Malone, Jr., WKU
LB- Tavante Beckett, R-Jr., Marshall
LB- Blaze Alldredge, Jr., Rice
LB- Kristopher Moll, Jr., UAB
DB- Meiko Dotson, R-Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB- Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DB- Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
DB- DQ Thomas, Sr., Southern Miss

SPECIAL TEAMS
K- Justin Rohrwasser, R-Sr., Marshall
P- John Haggerty, Jr., WKU
KR- Jaylond Adams, R-So., Southern Miss
PR- Talik Keaton, Fr., Marshall
LS – Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall