Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl Preview: Marshall vs. FIU

Sometimes it’s very easy to dismiss a college football bowl game simply because of its name or when it’s played, but tonight’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl has the makings to be a very good contest.

Being played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, this matchup (8pm ET on ESPN) features the Thundering Herd of Marshall against the Golden Panthers of Florida International University. Many casual sports fans probably knew little about the West Virginia-based school until the 2006 movie We Are Marshall documented the tragic 1970 plane crash that killed most of the team and coaches.

The program bounced back from that horrific event and has fielded a team every year since (many of which resulted in appearances in various bowl games). And although Marshall is only appearing in its second post-season contest in the last seven years, they are entering tonight’s tilt having won four of their last six games.

Marshall (6-6) is led by the two-heading rushing attack of Tron Martinez and Travon Van, as well as freshman quarterback Raheem Cato; but the real star of this team is defensive end Vinny Curry, the reigning Conference USA defensive player of the year. The Thundering Heard defense has forced 28 turnovers this season, six of which were fumbles created by Curry.

Florida International (8-4) from the Sunbelt Conference is another amazing story, and much of that can be credited to coach Mario Cristobal. The rising star took over a program that was 0-12 in 2006, and he has gradually turned the Golden Panthers into a winning team. FIU is led by wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (64 receptions, 950 yards, seven TDs) and running back Kedrick Rhodes (more than 1,100 yards).

So don’t get caught up in tonight’s sponsor or the record of the teams playing, because this game really does having the potential to be very good — especially with the star power on both sides of the ball.