Marshall came up with a few big plays on offense, and held on with its defense, to win the 2017 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall 31, Colorado State 28
5. The Marshall D thundered – for the most part
It was a struggle to put the game away, and Colorado State’s offense showed up late to make it a game, but the Marshall defense was popping.
The defensive front did a great job of getting behind the line, with Channing Hames tying for the team-lead with eight tackles with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. In all, 11 Marshall defenders registered at least a half a tackle for loss – the defense was attacking from the start.
4. Conference USA needed this
Middle Tennessee did its part looking strong against Arkansas State in the Raycom Media Camellia, but with the way WKU clunked against Georgia State in the Cure Bowl, and with North Texas getting blown out in the New Orleans, this was a big moment for the conference that got off to a rocky start.
And now, Marshall is a proven lock in bowl games.
The Thundering Herd are now 11-3 all-time in bowls – and, really, 11-2, if you don’t want to count the loss to Catawba in your 1948 Tangerine Bowl – they’ve won their last six, and head coach Doc Holliday is 5-0.
How good is Marshall in the post-season at the FBS level – forgetting about what it did as an FCS star? It has gone 11-1 since losing the 1997 Motor City Bowl vs. Ole Miss.
On the flip side …
3. Colorado State needed this, and didn’t get it
This was a disappointing season for a Ram program that was supposed to be a bigger part of the Mountain West title hunt. The talent was there, the experience was in place, and the motivation wasn’t a problem after an inexplicably disastrous Famous Idaho Potato Bowl loss to Idaho to close out last season.
And now, Colorado State has lost its last four bowl games – and its last three under Mike Bobo. The Rams 2-7 in bowls going back to the 2001 New Orleans, and while this loss doesn’t mean there needs to be a massive change, it keeps pointing to a big problem.
Colorado State just can’t get over the hump.
2. It’s not as if Colorado State didn’t have its chances
Marshall kept screwing up. It struggled to close out – letting the Rams back in it in the fourth quarter. The Herd were -2 in turnover margin, were flagged 11 times for 107 yards – 92 more yards than CSU were penalized – and the despite all the big pops and physical plays, there weren’t enough key stops until the very end.
The CSU running game wasn’t working with Dalyn Dawkins on the sidelines for a huge chunk of the game – he had just ten carries for 50 yards – and despite a few highlight plays, Michael Gallup was held to just 68 yards on six catches.
1. The explosive Thundering Herd
Where were all of these amazing big plays throughout the season?
They were there from time to time for the Marshall offense, but against the porous Colorado State defense, the MU attack came up with some of the biggest highlights of the bowl season – or will be.
Tyre Brady kicked off the scoring in the second quarter by taking a pass 76 yards for a score. Keion Davis went Beast Mode to crank up a 68-yard touchdown dash, and Tyler King busted out a 90-yard scoring run. Brady, Davis, and King each accounted for more than 100 yards of offense.
In all, Marshall came up with 501 yards of total offense with a balanced attack. And going into 2018, this might all just be starting.