This December 19, 2023 College Football Bowl Game Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl

UTSA vs Marshall
Frisco, Texas
12/19/2023 9:00 PM EST

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With the College Football Playoff finally catching up with the rest of the sporting world by expanding to include 12 teams, a few of the wild, whacky, meaningless bowl games we’ve seen in recent years will transform into meaningful matchups with championship implications. Thankfully, there are so many of these postseason circus acts that most of them will survive in their current form, a whimsical appetizer we can enjoy until the real big dogs kick off. That may sound like a shot at the game I’m about to break down, but it’s actually a ringing endorsement. As a hockey writer, I’ve fallen in love with the unpredictable chaos produced by 10 guys flying around a frozen surface on knife-shoes, using 6 foot tree branches to fire frozen rubber at each other. The Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl is about as close as you can come to that level of mayhem in the world of college football, and I can’t wait to watch it.

While the word “meaningless” is often thrown around regarding bowl games like this one, for UTSA it’s anything but that. This will be the Roadrunners’ 4th consecutive bowl appearance and 5th all time, and each previous game has ended in disappointment. The 2023 Frisco Bowl looks to be their best chance at ending that drought, as they’ll be facing a Marshall team that barely finished the season at .500 and is missing a key piece of an offense that didn’t really impress even when it was fully intact.

It’s been a chaotic week for the Herd. Starting quarterback Cam Fancher kicked things off by entering the transfer portal, and head coach Charles Huff threw gas on the fire by blaming that decision on a lack of NIL money and fans who “hate him”. Huff later apologized, but a distraction of this nature is never ideal for a team preparing for a big game. For a full breakdown of the controversy, check out this article from West Virginia Metro News

Without Fancher, redshirt freshman Cole Pennington will be tasked with running the offense as the Herd try to keep pace with a high-scoring UTSA squad. Unfortunately for Marshall fans, his previous appearances this season haven’t inspired much confidence. Through 3 appearances Pennington has thrown 79 passes, completing 49 of them for 437 yards, SIX interceptions, and exactly zero touchdowns.

This should prompt Marshall to lean heavily on the run game and their bell-cow back Rasheen Ali. His 1,043 rushing yards lead the team by a country mile (backup Ethan Payne was a distant second with 301) and he has more rushing touchdowns (14) than the entire team has receiving touchdowns (12). He’ll be up against a UTSA defense that held opponents to an average of 137.7 yards per game this season, but it’s also missing a key piece in linebacker Trey Moore, who joined Fancher in the transfer portal.
Moore is a big loss, but his greatest strength was rushing the passer (an area that’s less important in this game considering Marshall’s quarterback situation). His 14 sacks were easily the most by any Roadrunner and 3rd most in the entire nation. UTSA is lucky they aren’t facing a dangerous passing offense, otherwise this could be a real area of concern.

Offensively, the Roadrunners are intact. Quarterback Frank Harris (2,506 passing YDs, 18 passing TDs on the year) will be going to work through the air with Joshua Cephus (1,049 receiving YDs, 9TDs) and Tykee Ogle-Kellogg (521 receiving YDS, 7TDs). The UTSA run game is a well-balanced 3 headed monster, with Kevorian Barnes, Robert Henry, and Rocko Griffin each totalling at least 440 yards and 5 touchdowns (Henry leads the way with 9). The Marshall defense is in for a challenge here, especially if their offense can’t find a way to keep them off the field with some long drives.

The Pick for the 2023 Frisco Bowl

Overall UTSA is the clear favorite, and the betting lines reflect that. I’m taking them not only to win (-450) but to cover -11.5 points because that spread is just way too small when one team has a quarterback that’s thrown 6 picks and no touchdowns. Look for the Roadrunners to earn their first bowl victory in program history on Tuesday, and do so by a wide margin.

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This is an article written by Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney Author Pic - NHL Hockey Writer


Twitter:  @Aaron_Kinney9

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