Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-2 SU, 5-0 ATS) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Friday October 9th, 7:00PM EST
Where: Joan C Edwards Stadium Huntington, W.V.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USM +5.5/MRSH -5.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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Friday night football returns this week through an intriguing Conference USA matchup between the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and the Marshall Thundering Herd. Both teams are currently 1-0 in conference play and looking to stay unbeaten. The visiting Golden Eagles have already matched their 2014 wins total through the first 5 weeks of the season with a 3-2 SU record and last weeks 49-14 victory over North Texas may have been their most impressive victory in recent memory. This Friday the Golden Eagles attempt to keep their momentum going against a Marshall team that has blown them out in each meeting in the last 3 years.
The Thundering Herd are off to a solid 4-1 SU start to the 2015 season despite the competition talent being pretty mild at this point. The four teams that Marshall beat have a combined record of 7-13 against lackluster competition. However, perhaps we will get a better gauge of just how solid this Marshall team is this week in their matchup against Southern Miss. The Thundering Herd has beaten Southern Miss for the last 4 straight years. In the last 3 meetings, it has not even been close as Marshall has outscored the Golden Eagles by a combined score of 183-54. However, the talent level appears to be a bit more even going into this years contest as shown by the fact the Thundering Herd are just 5.5 point favorites at home this Friday night.
One reason for the Golden Eagles confidence wave is that they are generating a ton of offensive production. Southern Miss currently ranks 13th in total offense averaging 514 yards per game. As a result of the offense, the Golden Eagles are also averaging a cool 40.2 points per game. Junior and 3 year starter Nick Mullens has had a great start to the year composing a stat line of 66% passing for 1,691 yards with 14 touchdowns and just 3 picks through the first 5 games. While Mullens is performing great, he has a ton of experienced talent surrounding him. The skill positions on offense are loaded with seniors from running back Jalen Richard to receivers Casey Martin and Michael Thomas.
The matchup to watch this week will be how those experienced guys on offense pair against a pretty decent Marshall defense. The Thundering Herd have not been overly impressive on offense this year but defensively they should be able to give Southern Miss one of their more difficult matchups of the season. The Marshall offense will need a good effort from the defense because I do not think they want to get into a shootout type game. Instead, look for Marshall to keep the ball on the ground with tailback Tony Pittman and Devon Johnson if he can return this week. Johnson was held out of last weeks victory over Old Dominion with a back injury and it is uncertain if he will be able to go this week.
Either way expect Marshall to look to move the football primarily on the ground. Pittman is a talented tailback so it will not change the game plan if the Thundering Herd are without their all-conference tailback in Johnson. Freshman quarterback Chase Litton has been decent since taking over for Michael Birdsong. Litton has thrown 8 touchdowns with just 2 picks but has only completed 57% of his passes.
Litton attempted 35 passes in last weeks 27-7 victory against Old Dominion but I doubt that will be the case this week especially with his occasional flashes of inconsistency. Instead, expect Marshall to attack on the ground. Pittman had 32 carries last week and I think the Thundering Herd will come out with a running game plan based on the fact that Southern Miss has allowed 201 yards per game on the ground this season as one of the worse rush defenses in college football. Whether that works and can end Southern Misss perfect 5-0 mark ATS remains to be seen.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am going with the hot team against an inconsistent Marshall team on both sides of the football. Take Southern Miss +5.5
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