BOCA, Fla. (Sporting Alert) — The NCAA College football postseason will continue on Tuesday with two more bowl games, which will be shown live on ESPN and WatchESPN.
At the FAU Football Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida, the champions of the Conference USA and Mid-American Conference will face-off – as Marshall and Northern Illinois battle for the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl with both teams hoping to end the season on a high.
The Thundering Herd (12-1) were traveling along impressively until the final weekend of the regular season when they gave up a school-record 738 yards in a 67-66 overtime loss to Western Kentucky, which ended their undefeated season.
“It’s a shock,” Marshall tight end Eric Frohnapfel said at the time of that defeat. “That was sort of the look on everyone’s face. It’s frustrating and people are angry.”
Despite the defeat, star quarterback Rakeem Cato had a star-studded performance that day. The senior set school records for a single-game touchdown passes and passing yards, after ending the game with seven TDs and 417 yards.
Cato has passed for 3622 yards this year and 37 touchdowns, and has tallied 13,798 yards and 128 TDs in his career coming into Tuesday’s game.
Northern Illinois, meanwhile, travel to Florida on a seven win streak, including a record breaking 51-17 victory over Bowling Green to win the MAC championship for the third time in four years and the programs fourth overall.
The Huskies (11-2) had another stellar season, as they join the Oregon Ducks as the only two teams in the country to win 11 or more games in each of the last five terms.
They are holding teams to 23.6 points per game this season with its strong veteran defensive line, and have committed just 12 turnovers overall on the campaign.
Notably, the Huskies have also went on to win 44 of their last 45 games when they hold teams to 24 points or fewer, which is why Marshall’s defensive coordinator Chuck Heater believes they will be tough to breakdown.
“They don’t make many mistakes,” Heater said on Herdzone. “They possess the ball, sustain drives.”
NIU sophomore quarterback Drew Hare has been having a very solid season as well — passing for 2097 yards and 17 touchdowns, while throwing just two interceptions and completing 59.9 percent of his pass attempts.
The last time Marshall and Northern Illinois meet, the Thundering Herd came away 37-15 winners on Oct. 6, 2001.
The other game on Tuesday night will see San Diego State and Navy battling at Qualcomm Stadium for the San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Both teams have 7-5 season records entering this contest, with the Midshipmen (7-5) traveling on a three game win streak and victory in five of its last six outings.
The Aztecs (7-5), meanwhile have won their last two competitions and five of the last seven.
NCAA BOWL GAME TV CHANNELS: TIME (ET)
Tuesday, December 23
BOCA RATON BOWL
6:00 PM Marshall vs. Northern Illinois
ESPN and WatchESPN
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL
9:30 PM Navy vs. San Diego State
ESPN and WatchESPN