Scooter's Coffee Frisco Bowl: UTSA vs Marshall
By Simon Carroll
Welcome to Bowl Season! 84 teams, 42 matchups, 35 different cities; if you thought the College Football postseason was restricted to the four teams in the playoffs, think again. In this game preview, we turn our attention to the Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl:
Where and When
Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl
Location: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
Date: 19th December 2023
Time: 9:00pm (ET)
The Story So Far...
A bowl game that has moved 1,300 miles from Miami Beach, the Frisco Bowl hopes to have found a permanent home at Toyota Stadium – home of FC Dallas – where it has resided since 2017. Still in it’s infancy, this bowl game is usually competed for by a qualifying team from the American Conference against another program chosen ‘at-large’. And yet, to date, no team from the American has won this game.
In-state participant UTSA have familiarity with the Frisco Bowl; they competed for it back in 2023, when they were a member of Conference-USA and nationally ranked. The Roadrunners were defeated by San Diego State that day, and will be looking to make amends. Head Coach Jeff Traylor has been in San Antonio for four seasons, and compiled a 38-14 record during that time. He’s taken UTSA to a bowl game each season and lost them all. After moving to the American Conference in 2023, Traylor has overseen an eight win season as his team acclimated to a higher level of competition well. Is this the year they get over the postseason hump?
They’ll be up against Marshall, who overcame something of a midseason slump to become bowl eligible. After a 9-win season in 2022 that included a famous victory over Notre Dame, 2023 has been something of a disappointment for Charles Huff and his team. They failed to challenge for the Sun Belt as most expected, but the Thundering Herd are still dangerous when they get going. Much like Traylor, Huff has been to a bowl game every year of his reign. The trip to Frisco will mark Marshall’s seventh bowl game in a row.
UTSA quarterback Frank Harris is something of a Roadrunners legend. After five seasons in San Antonio, the Frisco Bowl will certainly be his last game – and he’ll be looking to add to stat lines that include 11,862 career yards and 92 passing touchdowns – and another 2,145 yards and 6 scores on the ground. He even has one reception for a TD back in 2021. That’s right – if Harris accounts for just one touchdown on Tuesday night, he leaves UTSA with 14,000 all-purpose yards and 100 scores. No other player in school history comes close to the records he has broken – he even registers 3rd all time in rushing yards. As a quarterback.
You couldn’t envision a more contrasting scenario on the opposite sideline. Marshall’s starting quarterback Cam Fancher has entered the transfer portal, meaning that the Herd likely turn to a freshman to see out this season. Cole Pennington has seen some action in 2023, notably in a three game spell in October/November when Fancher was injured. It did not go well – Pennington had six interceptions and zero touchdowns in those outings. Whilst the start of his career in Huntington has not been great, there is hope; Pennington is the son of Marshall legend Chad Pennington, a QB who had numbers similar to Harris at UTSA. Pennington Sr. also was a first round draft pick for the New York Jets. Could it run in the family?
Prospects To Watch
The answer to playing a QB with a 0-6 TD-INT ratio is to run the ball. And that’s exactly what Marshall will do in the Frisco Bowl, leaning on star running back Rasheen Ali. Ali has already accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl, meaning the matchup against UTSA will be his last in the famous green and white uniforms. As a redshirt freshman, Ali turned heads with a 1,400 yard campaign that also included an astonishing 23 TD’s on the ground. 2022 was wiped out due to injury, but he bounced back in 2023 with another 1,000 yard season. Explosive and shifty, Ali can also be a weapon in the passing game – his versatile skillset will intrigue NFL front offices.
For UTSA, they’ve got themselves an explosive playmaker of their own. QB Frank Harris has been able to lean on receiver Joshua Cephus for five years – the Frisco Bowl will be Cephus’ 56th game for the Roadrunners. During that time, he’s casually burned defenses for 3,500 yards and 27 scores. Cephus is tall, lean, and fast – the ideal combination for an outside receiver at the next level. He’s combative at the catchpoint, though scouts may want to see more muscle on his wiry frame. Cephus has demonstrated some return ability the last two seasons too, adding further value to his draft stock.
As good as Rasheen Ali is, I’m not sure he can put this Marshall team on his back for sixty minutes against a UTSA program that is extremely well coached and has a handful of stars suiting up for the final time. The Roadrunners will want to send their seniors out on a high in what feels like an end of an era in San Antonio. Give me Frank Harris and co. to pull away from the Herd in the second half, in a stadium that should be a sea of blue and orange.
UTSA 27 – 10 Marshall
PREVIOUSLY THE FOUNDER OF NFL DRAFT UK, SIMON HAS BEEN COVERING COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND THE NFL DRAFT SINCE 2009. BASED IN MANCHESTER, SIMON IS ALSO CO-CREATOR & WEEKLY GUEST OF THE COLLAPSING POCKET PODCAST.