Two Conference USA foes clash Friday in Murfreesboro, TN in a game which has plenty of playoff/bowl implications for one team. At the start of the season, MTSU Blue Raiders (3-4, 1-2) would be the team people thought would be gunning for a Conference USA title and a rather attractive bowl game. After an injury ravaged 2017 campaign, seeing talented QB Brent Stockstill go down early in the season with a shoulder injury, the drop-off in talent has been evident, as John Urzua just hasn’t filled shoes of Stockstill well to date. In contrast, the Marshall Thundering Herd (5-1, 2-0) storm (pun intended) into Friday’s match up winning four straight and their sole loss on the season came at UNC where they lost 37-20. That brings us to Friday, with two teams going in completely opposite directions. Will the Thundering Herd keep rolling, or will the reeling Blue Raiders find a way to hold home court and stop the Herd?
Marshall vs. Middle Tennessee College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday, October 20th at 7:00pm EST
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Marshall -2.5
Marshall Thundering Herd:
Marshall is quickly becoming the darling of the 2017 season. Their season win total was only set at 4.5 wins back in the summer, and clearly they’ve already eclipsed that number. They’re 5-1 on this season, and have outscored their opponents 139-53 in their wins. The Herd is led by Junior Chase Litton, who at 6’6” 232 lbs. is built like a pro-style QB. The Tampa native is touting a 13/3 TD to INT split this season, with a total of 1382 yards on the season. His top target is Tyre Brady. The 6’3” 208 lb Junior from Homestead, FL brings 34 receptions for 571 yards and 6 TDs on the season. Keion Davis is the leading rusher for the Herd, the 6’1” 210 lb. Junior from Fairburn, GA has 78 carries for 393 yards and one TD this season. Defense is the calling card this season for Marshall, giving up a combined 27 points in the last four games. Fun fact as well: Marshall is the first team in Conference USA history (22 years) to not allow a touchdown in their first two games in Conference USA play. Their defense is ranked 25th in the nation, giving up only 15 points per game. It’s clear that Marshall wasn’t expected to do much this season. Those low expectations clearly galvanized the squad, now they’re the favorite going into Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium on Friday.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders:
The Blue Raiders win total was set at 7.5 this season. With stellar QB Brent Stockstill going down with a shoulder injury as previously mentioned, Sophomore John Urzua just hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he does have big play capability nonetheless. Urzua has thrown 6 TD’s and 8 INT’s, so decision making has been a problem. The glaring weakness of MTSU is their run game. They’re only running for an average of 119 YPG which is ranked 119th. The running game is led by Freshman Brad Anderson. The 5’8” 170 lb. back has yet to hit pay dirt this season, with 61 carries for 367 yards this season. MTSU’s top receiver is Richie James, a 5’9” 176 lb Junior from Sarasota, FL is an extremely talented player, who was out for three games and returned last week. He isn’t putting up nearly the numbers he would if Stockstill was healthy. Ty Lee has the best numbers of any wideout on the team, the 5’9” 163 lb. Sophomore from Moultrie, GA has 3 TDs on 39 receptions with 436 total yards. Defense is what’s keeping MTSU from being steamrolled this season. They’re #40 in the country in total defense, with 354 YPG allowed. If they’re going to hang in this game, their defense needs to show up big on Friday at “Red.”
Sin City Sharp (@SinCitySharp on Twitter) Free Pick: Marshall -2.5
This being a conference game in a prime slot on a Friday night, we should see plenty of motivation here. Going into this season, we fully expected to see MTSU as the better team with the better record. The roles are reversed, as Marshall now has a chip on their shoulder and look to win their fifth straight game. Marshall is clearly the healthier and more complete team. We’re seeing some line value also as Marshall continues to be undervalued due to last seasons poor performance. Urzua has had trouble with turnovers all year, and Marshall’s defense should take advantage. A win Friday solidifies their bowl status, and puts them in the drivers seat in Conference USA East. MTSU has a great defense, but Marshall’s weapons will overpower MTSU enough to win and cover.
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