The Camellia Bowl is set for Christmas Day this year, and it features an interesting matchup between Buffalo and Marshall. Both teams finished as runner-up in their respective conferences, with Marshall losing to UAB in the Conference USA Championship Game, and Buffalo falling to Ball State in the MAC Championship Game. It will not be the first time these teams have met, because they were once conference mates.
Buffalo joined the MAC in 1999 and has been there ever since. Marshall has had two stints in the MAC, most recently joining the conference in 1997 and spending eight seasons there before leaving for Conference USA. It was during those eight years when these teams met six times. Marshall won all six games by an average of 33 points per game. As a new returnee to the FBS level at the time, Buffalo’s program wasn’t at the same standard it’s been at of late.
So who wins this showdown on Christmas Day in Montgomery, Alabama? Let’s take a closer look at the matchups and storylines to follow before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
Marshall: The Thundering Herd weren’t thundering down the stretch. Marshall enters this game on a two-game losing streak, and like so many programs, has seen its season start and stop repeatedly. Marshall opened the season in early September, but after a 2-0 start, the program had to wait nearly a month between games. That did not stop it from getting off to a 7-0 start, but after another long layoff in mid-November, the Herd lost 20-0 to Rice in early December. Freshman quarterback Grant Wells, who had been having a spectacular season, threw five interceptions in the loss. The Herd offense would struggle again against UAB in the conference title game, managing only 268 yards and 13 points. If looking for a silver lining, it’s that had Marshall win the C-USA championship, it wouldn’t have a bowl to play. UAB went to the Gasparilla Bowl, which was canceled after South Carolina had to pull out of the game due to COVID issues.
Buffalo: The Bulls joined the party later than most as the MAC didn’t start its season until November. To put that in perspective, Marshall was already 5-0 and had three games postponed before the Bulls kicked off their season. While they were late, they didn’t waste time getting to work, laying waste to their first five opponents of the season. The Bulls won their division with ease and entered the MAC Championship with a 5-0 record, winning by an average of 30.8 points per game. This was primarily due to running back Jaret Patterson, who has rushed for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns in only six games. Patterson suffered an injury during Buffalo’s 38-28 loss to Ball State in the MAC Championship, but the team is hopeful he’ll be able to go against Marshall.
Game: Camellia Bowl
Date: Friday, Dec. 25 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Cramton Bowl — Montgomery, Alabama
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Camellia Bowl prediction, picks
I think there’s value to be found on Marshall due to its two-game losing streak. The Bulls opened as 3.5-point favorites, but the line quickly moved to 4.5. Given the MAC’s tendency to struggle during bowl season, and Buffalo’s easy schedule this season, it just makes the Herd look even more attractive. Plus, there’s the question of whether or not Jaret Patterson will be able to play. If not, I love the Herd. If he can go, I’m not as avid a fan of the play, but I’d still make it. Pick: Marshall +4.5 | Marshall 27, Buffalo 24
So who wins Buffalo vs. Marshall? And which side of the spread hits 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to back, all from the proven model on a 55-35 run on its top-rated college football picks this season.
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