The college football bowl season rolls along on Monday with one game on the slate featuring former conference rivals. UCF and Marshall will meet Monday afternoon in the 2019 Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Monday's Gasparilla Bowl will mark the first time these two will clash on the field since 2012 when they were Conference USA foes, and Marshall is looking for its first victory over UCF since the 2004 season. The Knights were victorious in all eight games with the Thundering Herd from 2005-12 when they both occupied slots in Conference USA.
So who wins this battle in Tampa on Monday afternoon from Raymond James Stadium? Let's take a closer look at the matchup and what to expect before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
UCF: Since taking over in 2018, Josh Heupel is 21-4 as Knights coach, but this year's 9-3 finish feels like a disappointment without a conference crown after back-to-back AAC championships. This bowl game is a chance for Heupel to lead the Knights to a third straight double-digit win season, adding to the program's winningest four-year run with a 41st win since the start of the 2016 season.
Heupel has been able to maintain the Knights' offensive success even after not only the departure of Scott Frost but also the horrific injury to McKenzie Milton. Now the Knights are led by true freshman quarterback Dillion Gabriel, who just put together one of the most prolific seasons in school history with 3,393 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. Gabriel and a deep rotation of running backs (Otis Anderson, Adrian Killins Jr., Greg McCrae and Bentavious Thompson) have helped power an offense averaging 43 points per game.
Marshall: Heading into this bowl season, Marshall leads the nation with a .857 winning percentage in NCAA-sanctioned bowl games (12-2), the best mark in the nation among teams with at least five bowl appearances. Coach Doc Holliday himself is 6-0 in bowl games with the Thundering Herd, but maintaining that near-spotless record is going to be tough going up against a team with the firepower of UCF. Luckily, Marshall has its own dynamic offensive weapon with running back Brenden Knox, who leads Conference USA with 1,284 rushing yards and is doing it at 5.26 yards per attempt with 11 rushing touchdowns.
Event: Gasparilla Bowl
Date: Monday, Dec. 23 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium -- Tampa, Florida
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Gasparilla Bowl prediction, picks
It's tough to line up against Holliday's undefeated bowl record as Marshall's coach, but I think this is one of those positions where the oddsmakers have set a three-score spread for a reason. The Knights have way too much firepower for Marshall's defense, and even if the Herd can get things going with Knox on the ground, I don't think they can keep up over four quarters. Lay the points. Pick: UCF (-17)
So who wins Marshall vs. UCF, and which side of the spread can you bank on in over 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to jump on Monday, all from the advanced model that is up almost $4,000 on its top-rated picks.