By Brad Carroll
Tuesday night's twosome of college football bowl games feature three teams you know very well, including one that remained undefeated longer than anyone this season except Florida State. Here we preview and our college football experts pick against the spread the Boca Raton Bowl, with Marshall taking on Northern Illinois, and the Poinsettia Bowl, with Navy playing San Diego State.
[New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Idaho Potato Bowl, Camellia Bowl picks against the spread here]
[Miami Beach Bowl picks against the spread here]
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Boca Raton Bowl
Boca Raton, Florida, 6 p.m., ESPN
Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2)
The Spread: Marshall -9.5; Northern Illinois +9.5
Brad's Breakdown: This is the only matchup outside of the "New Year's Six" bowl games that features two conference champions, with Marshall winning Conference USA and Northern Illinois taking the Mid-American title. Marshall was hoping to play in one of those New Year's Six bowls when it race to an 11-0 record and finally broke the College Football Playoff rankings. If the Thundering Herd could beat Western Kentucky and then win the conference title, they likely could have played in a big bowl game against a major program. But Marshall lost to Western Kentucky in overtime, ruining those dreams. The Herd did bounce back to beat Louisiana Tech in the conference title game, but by just three as big favorites. Marshall actually asked for this matchup, as it wanted to play the best possible team instead of taking on a middle-tier program from a power conference. Fans might not be happy with that decision, but it does give this game a mid-major championship feel. Northern Illinois beat Bowling Green in the MAC championship 51-17 and has won seven straight games overall. The Huskies' biggest win came against Northwestern and its two losses were to Arkansas and Central Michigan. Their defense is solid and the running game is as well. But the Huskies have trouble throwing it. Marshall should finish on a positive note, but things haven't been the same for it since losing its undefeated season.
Brad's Score: Marshall 31, Northern Illinois 27
Craig's Score: Marshall 48, Northern Illinois 44
Glenn's Score: Marshall 56, Northern Illinois 30
Matt's Score: Marshall 42, Northern Illinois 28
San Diego, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Navy (7-5) vs. San Diego State (7-5)
The Spread: Navy +3; San Diego State -3
Brad's Breakdown: This is more or less a home game for San Diego State, as it will play in its own city. The Aztecs are a ground and pound team, running the ball on offense and playing great defense. San Diego State averages just under 220 rushing yards and a game and is 14th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 20.1 points per game. All four of the Aztecs losses were against solid teams, North Carolina, Oregon State, Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State. Navy has had a down season, despite winning seven games. The Midshipman played close in losses to Ohio State and Notre Dame this year, but barely defeated Army last week as big favorites. The Mids also lost by nine to Air Force, a team San Diego State beat by 16. Navy rushes for the second most yards in the nation, at 345.1. It's tough going against Navy, but San Diego State should win this game easily.
Brad's Score: San Diego State 27, Navy 17
Craig's Score: Navy 24, San Diego State 21 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Navy 24, San Diego State 13 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Navy 21, San Diego State 17 (upset pick)