Rootability Index: The Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl

Today's Rootability index helps the uninvested fan decide who to pull for in a contest where they have no clear interest. The game: The Beef O'Brady's Bowl, featuring Marshall (6-6) versus Florida International, broadcast live and CRAIG JAMES-FREE BROADCAST.

ROOTABILITY FACTORS. As Karl Popper once said, "The only issue besides that of falsification in philosophy is deciding who to pull for in the 2011 Beef O'Brady's Bowl." That quote may not be real. Keep moving anyway, because this is important business more important than the finale of that Fox show about time-traveling dinosaur enthusiasts.

The choice is deeply emotional. Are you the person who qualified for a home loan by a single point on your credit score? Did you get into a fabulous party once by posing as a bus boy, and then change into your outfit in the bathroom? If you are, then Marshall is your team, a .500 squad with a dismal 2-5 record against bowl-eligible competition who slipped in the back door of the bowl system and dove straight for the buffet. Gatecrashers of all ages, the Thundering Herd is your team, and you have no other say in the matter lest you betray your mooching soul.

Other people who must root for Marshall:

  • Those entertained by a team with a tight end named Gator Hoskins and a head coach named Doc Holliday.
  • Those with unnatural grudges against the Sun Belt. (You know who you are.)
  • Those who enjoy rooting for teams with collective nouns for names.  
  • Chad Pennington devotees (Mike Greenberg, stop blushing. We know you're still stalking him.)
  • Holders of "acceptable" forensic science degrees.

If this is not you, chances are you are a Florida International partisan tonight. The spotlight will be on the Golden Panthers' electric receiving and return threat T.Y. Hilton, but save some attention for Wesley Carroll. Does the name ring a bell? For SEC fans it should, since Carroll was a fresh-faced young lad who led Mississippi State to a Liberty Bowl victory in 2007 before losing his starting job and transferring to FIU. In that time, Carroll has been productive as a starter for the Golden Panthers, and--


--and has apparently also been watching a lot of Deadwood, or working as a roadie for Molly Hatchet, or taking supplements of Vitamin Bro. Wesley Carroll was last seen as a mugshot for "cocaine bush pilot in 1977" in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, and also threw 14 TDs to 4 INTs this year. Both his play and hair have been durable constants for FIU in 2011, and one has a lot to do with FIU's 8-4 record.

You may also want to root hard for FIU if you are a PItt fan. Mario Cristobal, a former Miami offensive line coach, has rebuilt the FIU program after a rough patch under Don Strock. The inevitable approach of coach-poachers begins with Pitt looking for a replacement for the recently departed but ever-squirrelly Todd Graham, so while Pitt fans should hope to get a bright young coach with a monster FIU victory,

Golden Panthers fans, meanwhile, may want their team to win this game by an ugly, accidental margin. Something like Marshall snapping a punt through the endzone in a 21-20 game with :34 left on the clock to lose 22-21? Oh, that would do quite nicely.

You are also reminded that Craig James is off this game, replaced on color by Ed Cunningham. No matter the score, America has already won something tonight. 

LEAN: FIU. No one's still sure exactly what a "Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl" is. But whatever it may be, the Golden Panthers have earned it over the course of 2011 a bit more than the underachieving Thundering Herd.

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