December 23 College Bowl Picks: Boca Raton and Poinsettia

1 of 2

Nov 8, 2014; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) greets Marshall fans after their game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Marshall won, 63-17. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The bowl schedule is starting to heat up, and as such, we move down the line to our December 23 college bowl picks.

Boston College Eagles
Boston College Eagles /

Boston College Eagles

The bowls in question for Tuesday are the Boca Raton Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl. One of those games people have heard of, and the other, not so much. ESPN invented one of them, and the other, again, not so much.

We as a college football watching people are in luck, because these two games are actually decent in terms of team quality. With any luck, two good games will result.

As we weave our way through these minor bowl games, who is set to win this next set of games?

December 23 College Bowl Picks: Boca Raton Bowl

Marshall (-10) vs. Northern Illinois | Boca Raton, FL | 6pm ET (ESPN)

23 combined victories between the two teams in this bowl, despite the fact that both are from so-called have-not conferences, makes this one of the most appealing pre-Christmas bowl games.

Marshall fought and fought to get into the College Football Playoff rankings and, when they finally got in it, lost to Western Kentucky the following week and that as they say was that. That did not have any deleterious effect on them as they won the Conference USA title over Louisiana Tech a few weeks ago.

As for Northern Illinois, a Boston College opponent next season, the Huskies are not as good as they used to be with Jordan Lynch, but the MAC champions have won 11 games so far.

NIU used to be the team with the outstanding MACtion-y offense, but this season, it is Marshall that presents the bigger threat when they have the ball. Keeping in perspective the sorts of teams they have played, the Herd are one of the best offenses in the nation this season. They average about 45 points per game, having scored 40 or more ten times, and 50 or more three times.

A big part of the reason for Marshall’s success has been quarterback Rakeem Cato, who has thrown 37 touchdown passes on 3,622 yards. The Herd also have a 1,636 yard rusher in Devon Johnson.

The Husky defense has been alright considering that they play in the MAC (though MACtion has seemed a little less like MACtion this year with fewer points per game at the top of the conference), and it needs to be considering that their pass game has been less impressive than Marshall’s. QB Drew Hare has 2,097 yards and 17 touchdowns with just two picks, but like the BC Eagles, NIU rushes for about 250 yards per game.

Though the stats would suggest both defenses are good, this game has slugfest written all over it. Look for the Herd to eventually pull away in this meeting of conference champions, but for the Huskies to keep it close against Marshall’s average run defense.

Northern Illinois +10

Next: Poinsettia Bowl