2018 Gasparilla Bowl odds, line: South Florida vs. Marshall picks, best predictions from top-rated expert who's 5-1

No team has a better bowl record than the Marshall Thundering Herd, but that will be tested when they face the South Florida Bulls in the 2018 Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. It's raining leading up to game time, with a chance of more showers to come, and winds will be out of the south around 10 mph. Both teams are 4-7 against the spread versus FBS teams this season. The Herd are four-point favorites in the latest USF vs. Marshall odds, with the over-under down to 51 due in part to the weather. USF has lost five straight after a 7-0 start, while Marshall won three in a row before losing to Virginia Tech. Before backing either side and making your own USF vs. Marshall picks, you need to see what SportsLine college football expert Zack Cimini is saying.

The fast-rising Las Vegas prognosticator has turned a profit in every sport, but he's tremendously adept at sniffing out spread winners in college football. And when it comes to against the spread picks involving South Florida, Cimini is an amazing 5-1 since joining SportsLine. He's on a 20-13 college football run overall, and anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now he has evaluated the latest 2018 Gasparilla Bowl odds and crunched the numbers for every possible scenario for Marshall vs. South Florida. His 2018 Gasparilla Bowl picks are locked in only at SportsLine.

Cimini knows USF has a balanced offense that averages 242 yards passing and 203 yards rushing per game. Junior running back Jordan Cronkrite has 1,095 yards on 6.3 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns, just the fifth South Florida back to reach 1,000 yards in a season. Freshman Johnny Ford has 737 yards on 7.1 yards per attempt, 10th-highest in the country. 

USF was a big story early this season, racing to a 7-0 start, but the Bulls lost their final five games. They've gotten up for bowl games, though, winning two straight and five of their last six. Now they get to host a bowl game, and they're 20-5 at home since 2014. 

It's been tough to pass against the Bulls' defense, which allowed fewer than 200 yards per game through the air. Defensive backs Nick Roberts, Mike Hampton and Ronnie Hoggins have combined for seven interceptions.

But just because USF has home-field advantage doesn't mean it will cover the 2018 Gasparilla Bowl spread.

Marshall gets up for bowl games, winning all five under coach Doc Holliday and 11-of-14 all-time, the top winning percentage for any program with at least five games. They'll come armed to the Gasparilla Bowl 2018 with plenty of weapons as well. Marshall's strength is on the defensive side, led by one of the nation's stoutest front lines. The team has registered 39 sacks, fifth-most, while allowing just 104 yards rushing per game, ninth-fewest. Eight players have at least two sacks, led by defensive end Ty Tyler, who has eight. 

Freshman quarterback Isaiah Green has 15 touchdowns. He's leaned on All-Conference USA performer Tyre Brady (66 catches, 914 yards, nine touchdowns) and will rely on freshman running back Brenden Knox, who broke out for 204 yards and two scores in the team's season-finale against Virginia Tech.

We can tell you Cimini is leaning toward the under, but he has uncovered a crucial x-factor that makes one side of the spread hit hard. He's only sharing it over at SportsLine.

So who wins USF vs. Marshall? And which crucial x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Gasparilla Bowl spread you need to jump on, all from the expert who's 5-1 on South Florida picks, and find out. 

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