The postseason continues to belong to Marshall.
As long as the Thundering Herd qualify for a bowl game, it continues to be a bad idea to bet against a team that has proven more than capable of ending seasons with a victory.
The latest for the program with the highest winning percentage among FBS teams with at least 10 postseason appearances wasn’t pretty, but the Thundering Herd hoarded possession, relied on a dominant defense and scored just enough to claim another trophy with a 16-10 decision against Connecticut on Saturday in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
There wasn’t much flashy about the formula for Doc Holliday's club, but there is no arguing about the results. And for the 10th time in 12 tries since moving up to the game’s highest level in 1997, Marshall is heading into the offseason with some momentum and a little extra luggage.
What the win means for Marshall: The win streak will live to see another season. The Thundering Herd have now won five straight bowl games, stamping themselves as one of the most reliable teams in the country around the holidays. Even better this season for Marshall, the victory made the season look more impressive, with the win against the Huskies giving the program a third consecutive year with 10 victories.
What the loss means for UConn: The Huskies don’t have anything to hang their heads about after showing signs of progress under second-year coach Bob Diaco. But the defeat at the hands of the Thundering Herd gave them another losing season overall, a slide that dates to the Fiesta Bowl campaign in 2010 and that Diaco was aiming to end down in Florida. UConn is trending in the right direction, but the rebuilding effort isn’t done yet.
Player of the game: For the most part, all Marshall needed was Chase Litton to efficiently manage the offense, complete easy throws and avoid costly mistakes. But an aggressive, physical UConn defensive front and talented, ball-hawking secondary made that more difficult than it might sound, particularly for a freshman quarterback. But Litton took what the Huskies gave him and sustained lengthy drives, thanks to his 23 completions for 218 yards with a touchdown and only one interception. That was more than enough to complement a fantastic effort by the Thundering Herd on the other side of the ball.
How the game was won: Patience and possession. In what amounted to football’s version of a pitching duel at Tropicana Field, Marshall was able to gain an edge mainly by trying to string together singles instead of swinging for the fences. The Thundering Herd kept the ball for nearly 35 minutes, scored on three different drives that included more than 13 plays each and showed a knack for coming up with the hard-fought yardage it needed to keep the chains moving and UConn’s offense on the sideline.