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Marshall, Connecticut accept bids to St. Petersburg Bowl

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The St. Petersburg Bowl has announced that the 2015 game will feature a matchup between the Connecticut Huskies and the Marshall Thundering Herd. The game features a Marshall program known for football success and tragedy, against a Connecticut program that has only played in Division 1-FBS since 2002.

Marshall finished the season 9-3 in second place in the East Division of Conference USA. It won seven consecutive games during the middle part of the season before dropping two of its past three, including a 49-28 loss to conference champion Western Kentucky.

The Herd is coached by John “Doc” Holliday, who is in his sixth season at the helm. He has a record of 49-28 during that span, including a 3-0 bowl record.

One of those victories came in St. Petersburg, in what was known as the Beef  O’Brady’s Bowl in 2011. Marshall defeated Florida International in that game.

Marshall is also well known for the tragedy that befell its program in November 1970 when a plane crash killed team members, coaches and boosters. The true story became the movie, “We Are Marshall” starring Matthew McConaughey.

Connecticut finished the season at 6-6 and tied for third in the American Conference’s East Division. One of those losses was to the South Florida Bulls, 28-20 on Oct. 17.

The Huskies, are making their sixth bowl appearance, the most recent being the 2010 Fiesta Bowl when they were drilled by Oklahoma, 48-20.

UConn is coached by Bob Diaco, who is in his second season with the Huskies. After a 2-10 mark last year, his team showed huge improvement this season.

The St. Petersburg Bowl is set for Dec. 26 with kickoff at 11 a.m. from Tropicana Field. It will be the first meeting between the schools.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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