Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Memphis Tigers Preview and Pick

Marshall Thundering Herd (0-4) +3, o/u 60 at Memphis Tigers (1-3), 8 pm Eastern Tuesday, ESPN2
by Zman of

The winless Marshall Thundering Herd visit the one-win Memphis Tigers for a Tuesday night Conference USA game that will be played under a cloud of sorrow following the shooting death of a Memphis player over the weekend.

Memphis backup DL Taylor Bradford was shot and killed Sunday night. After some reflection, the powers that be decided that Tuesday’s game should be played as scheduled.

Marshall is winless this season, having lost at Miami (Fla.) by 28 points, to West Virginia by 25, at home to New Hampshire 48-35 and, last week, at Cincinnati 40-14.

But the Herd played the Mountaineers tough, leading at the half and trailing by just four points after three quarters.

Memphis gave up scores to Mississippi in their season opener on a blocked punt and an interception return, and nearly rallied from a 23-0 deficit before failing 23-21. The Tigers then beat Jacksonville State 35-14 and lost at Central Florida 56-20. Then, last Thursday, Memphis grabbed a 31-6 halftime lead vs. Arkansas State before collapsing in the second half and losing 35-31.

Marshall beat Memphis last season 41-27 as 10-point home favorites. The Tigers actually outrushed the Herd, but committed four turnovers. Marshall scored on a 75-yard pass play, a 52-yard run and on an interception return, all of which helped the game go over its total of 50.

This season, the Herd is getting outscored by a 42-19 per-game margin, getting outgained by a 448-380 yards-per-game average, and are getting outrushed by a 263-85 margin.

Memphis is getting outscored 32-27, outgained 414-413 and outrushed 171-154. But the Tigers have actually outgrounded three of their four opponents this season.

Injuries have decimated the Marshall defense this season, with as many as five starters out of action at various times, and a couple for the season. That’s a big reason why the Herd ranks 118th out of 119 FBS team vs. the run this season.

Marshall senior QB Bernard Morris, with 22 career collegiate starts under his belt, has completed 68% of his passes this season and owns a 7/4 TD/INT ratio.

Memphis senior QB Martin Hankins, who’s started 15 games for the Tigers in his college career, has hit on 61% of his throws this season and owns a 5/5 TD/INT ratio.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks the Herd 120th at 59.4, Memphis 110th at 60.7.

The Tigers played a make-up game vs. Arkansas State last Thursday, so Tuesday’s game is their third outing in the last 11 days.

Marshall is 1-2 against the spread this season, Memphis 2-1.

The o/u is 2-1 in both Herd and Tigers games this season.

Memphis opened up as two-point home chalk for this game, with a total of 61. The Tigers have since been bet up a point to -3 at most online sportsbooks, while the total has dropped to 60. Also, Memphis is listed at about -145 on the moneyline, with Marshall getting +125.

The Zman Pick: This game has a ton of negative variables that make it almost impossible to handicap the side or total. There are injuries galore including Marshall’s QB, this is Memphis’s 3rd game in 11 days and to top it all off, a Memphis player was shot and killed this past Sunday. A handicapper we know that’s close to the Marshall team claims the only play in this game is over, but we are passing.