Is anyone else hungry? Beef O'Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg Open Thread

Bowl season continues tonight with a bowl game that, for some reason, makes me hungry. The Beef O'Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg matches up the Marshall Thundering Herd from Conference USA and the Florida International Panthers from the Sun Belt.

This is your official Beef O'Brady's Bowl open thread. Talk about all the juicy action here. After the jump, learn a little more about the matchup.



FIU coach Mario Cristobal (left) and Marshall coach Doc Holliday are happier than they look about being in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.

Beef O'Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg

Florida International Panthers (8-4 overall, 5-3 Sun Belt) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-6 overall, 5-3 C-USA)

The Beef O'Brady's Bowl tie-ins are with the Big East Conference and Conference USA. But when the Big East did not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its bowl affiliations, the Beef O'Brady's Bowl needed to turn elsewhere for a participant. Florida International University, a member of the Sun Belt, jumped all over that oppportunity--

FIU likes to recruit what head coach Mario Cristobal calls "fast twitch athletes" – guys with speed and explosiveness that create game-changing plays. But it was some fast twitch thinking off the field that helped get FIU into Tuesday’s Beef O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl.

Days after the Nov. 5 10-9 loss to Western Kentucky left FIU out of the running for either of the bowls that the Sun Belt Conference had an affiliation with, FIU athletic director Pete Garcia called Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl executive director Brett Dulaney. Though FIU sat at 5-4, the Panthers almost certainly would win at least one of its last three games to become bowl eligible (they won all three).

"He said, ‘I’m going to be in the area, do you mind if I come up?’" Dulaney recalled.

He knew Garcia already had visited the Charlotte offices of ESPN Regional Television, creators and owners of the Beef O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl and six other bowls. Garcia had developed an FIU-ESPN connection over the last year in addition to the relationship he had with ESPN before he came to FIU in 2006.

As for the game itself, collegefootballtalk gives you the skinny:

Ultra-experienced FIU quarterback Wes Carroll would be wise to be constantly aware of Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, who has 21.5 tackles for losses, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles to his name.

Carroll's counterpart is true freshman Rakeem Cato, who was 23-of-29 for 341 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-27 overtime victory over East Carolina in the regular-season finale that made Marshall bowl eligible.

The Thundering Herd's pass defense makes us nervous, but their recent experience in must-win nailbiters earned them the nod.

Enjoy the game.

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