The Marshall Thundering Herd (3-1) host the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2-2) on Friday night in an early season Conference USA showdown. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM EST at Joan C. Edwards Stadium and the game will be available on the CBS Sports Network.
Taking a look at the Week 6 college football odds, Marshall opened as a 7.5-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has changed slightly after early betting, as the Herd are currently listed at -6.5. The total for the game is sitting at 52 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Marshall vs Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee pulled off a very impressive comeback win over Florida Atlantic last weekend, beating the Owls 25-24 despite trailing by 18 points midway through the 2nd quarter. RB Tavares Thomas found the end zone on a one yard one with just 38 seconds remaining in the game before QB Brent Stockstill found WR Gaitlin Casey on the two point conversion that put Middle Tennessee State up for good. Stockstill completed 68% of his passes while throwing for 259 yards and a touchdown. He also led the way on the ground for the Blue Raiders, rushing for almost 60 yards. It will interesting to see how the rest of his senior year goes, as his junior season was marred by a number of injuries and inconsistent play. As a whole, Middle Tennessee is currently averaging 25 points per game on 363.2 total yards.
The Blue Raiders have been absolutely terrible defensively, allowing opponents to score 36.2 points per game on an average of 429 yards of total offense. They have been especially bad against the run, surrendering an average of 202.8 yards per game on the ground to opponents (106th). They have been slightly better defending the pass, holding opponents to 226.3 yards per game through the air (69th).
Marshall opened their conference schedule by sneaking past Western Kentucky last weekend, beating the Hilltoppers 20-17. True freshman QB Isaiah Green was the hero for the Thundering Herd, finding WR Tyre Brady in the end zone with just 1:44 left in the game. Green had an up and down game for Marshall, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns but also getting picked off three times. Besides catching the game winning pass, Brady led the Herd with eight receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, Marshall is currently averaging 26.8 points per game on 383.8 total yards. However, they are definitely a pass-first team, averaging over 275 yards per game through the air.
The Thundering Herd have looked fairly average defensively, giving up an average of 24.5 points per game (61st) on 364.3 total yards per game (59th). They have looked quite strong against the run, only allowing opponents to rush for an average of 103.0 yards per game (16th). However, they have really struggled to defend against the pass, giving up 261.3 yards per game through the air (103rd).
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Marshall -6.5
I always enjoy watching conference games between these two rivals, as they tend to be highly competitive and tightly contested. There are a couple of things that stand out for me in this particular spot. First, both offenses are averaging almost an identical number of points per game, while Marshall has been much better defensively than Middle Tennessee State. I think this trend will continue this week, especially since the Thundering Herd will be playing at home in this contest. Secondly, I think that Isaiah Green will have a ton of confidence after leading his team to victory last week in a tight game. There have been plenty of ups and downs for the freshman, but Green has shown instant chemistry with Tyre Brady. While the Blue Raiders have been worse against the run than the pass, they aren’t exactly shutting down opponents through the air, ranking well below average in that category as well.
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Middle Tennessee State is just 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games in the month of October. They are also 1-7 ATS over their past 8 road games, 1-4 ATS in their last five games on turf, and 3-12-1 ATS over their past 16 games following a straight up win. Marshall, on the other hand, is 7-2 ATS over their past nine games on Friday.
The difference in this game should boil down to the superior defensive play of Marshall. They are allowing almost a full 12 points per game against and just limited Western Kentucky to under 20 points their last time out. Middle Tennessee State has allowed 35+ points in three out of four games this year, including a game against Georgia where they allowed almost 50. They haven’t exactly been great against weaker opponents either, giving up 37 points to the 1-4 Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks. Marshall is playing at home and should be able to pull away in the second half. I’ll lay the points and take the home favorite.