Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#309 Marshall 57 vs.
#310 FAU -5.5
Friday, October 18, 2019 at 6:30pm EDT
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#309 Marshall University
#310 Florida Atlantic University
3-3
4-2
1-5
4-2
4-2
3-3
25
31
25
28

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This article covers a past game!

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When and where: October 18, 2019, FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL, 6:30 PM ET

The Florida Atlantic Owls will be looking to roll to their fifth straight win on Friday in a Conference USA divisional showdown with the Marshall Thundering Herd. They’ll have a tough task on their hands in slowing down Marshall’s dangerous rushing attack.

The combination of quarterback Isaiah Green and running back Brenden Knox has chewed up enough grass with their legs to give opposing offensive coordinators nightmares before kick-off. They racked up 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns in their recent win over Old Dominion. Meanwhile, the Owls have benefitted from the standout play of quarterback Chris Robison. Although he struggled at home against MTSU, he was coming off three consecutive 300-plus-yard passing performances.

Marshall finishes scoring drives

It was shocking to see Marshall pile up nearly 600 total yards of offense and come away with only 13 points against MTSU well over a week ago. That was one of the depressing post-game stat lines that would have any team walking away feeling like they should have won.

But they seemingly cleaned things up against Old Dominion, who had no answers for their gashing rushing attack. Marshall finished with 444 total yards and 31 points in a game where they ran the ball 46 times.

The ability to consistently pound the ball on the ground will be the headline heading into Friday’s game with FAU’s vulnerable rushing defense, which is giving up an average of 149.7 rushing yards per game.

Green being behind center is also a nightmare for defensive coordinators given his ability to make plays on the move. He’ll challenge FAU’s defensive front to remain disciplined in their gap assignments in hopes of keeping him from wrecking the game. The Thundering Herd rank second in the Conference USA in long scrimmage plays. It’s a big-play offense that can hurt you within a blink of an eye.

On the defensive side of the ball, they are giving up an average of 377.3 total yards per game. Most of their issues have come when attempting to stop the run as well, although they have also given up 11 touchdowns through the air. They’ll have their hands full in trying to fool Robison in the pocket, while slowing down the dual running back combination of Malcolm Davidson and Larry McCammon III in the backfield.

FAU rolling in early conference play

Since getting steamrolled by Ohio State and UCF, the Owls have soared to four consecutive wins, including back-to-back victories in conference games against MTSU and Charlotte. Unlike the Thundering Herd, they didn’t have any issues finishing touchdown drives against MTSU. McCammon did go down at one point in the game with an injury, and it’ll be interesting to see if it affects his status on Friday.

They’ll need to lean on the rushing attack to settle down the defense from keying in on Robison behind center. The FAU offensive front hasn’t consistently done a great job of protecting their quarterback, and they’ll be facing a Marshall defense that ranks third in the conference with 18 sacks. If Robison has time in the pocket, he should be able to eat up chunk plays by keying in on mismatches with tight end Harrison Bryant.

However, the true headache will come on the defensive side of the ball in containing Green and limiting Marshall’s fearsome rushing attack. Their defense is allowing 148.7 yards per game on the ground this season. They’ll have to seal the edges and keep Green in the pocket, while spying him across the middle if he tries to run up the gut for dirty yards. The Thundering Herd aren’t a team that excels when forced into obvious passing situations, and Green has shown a tendency to be a bit loose with the football.

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Robison has to be itching to get this game back after imploding on the road at Marshall in last year’s head-to-head meeting between the two teams. The then-freshman quarterback was handing out interceptions left and right to the Thundering Herd defense. He finished the game with 223 passing yards, one touchdown and four interceptions on an afternoon where the offense gave up five turnovers.

Now, he’s clearly more poised in the pocket after a full year under his belt, and he’ll have an opportunity to play Marshall at home this year instead of on the road. The Thundering Herd have shown a tendency to stall on drives, which ultimately hurt them against MTSU. They’ll run into an FAU team with the type of balance on offense to keep them on their toes.

Robison will be able to test Marshall’s defensive secondary that has already given up 11 touchdown passes and hasn’t been very opportunistic in creating turnovers. The same can’t be said about FAU’s secondary, despite them giving up a ton of passing yards per game. They’ve still managed to come away with eight interceptions so far this season, which means Green is in for a rough night. The turnovers will be Marshall’s problem this year, not FAU’s.

I’m taking the Owls on Friday.

Prediction: Florida Atlantic Owls (-5.5)

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The under has typically reigned supreme in these head-to-head meetings, but both defenses have been generous in the point department this year. Opponents are averaging 25.8 points per game against Marshall and 28.5 against FAU. Neither team has shown the ability to consistently stop the run, which will lead to chains moving and drives staying alive. An offensive shootout is in store for this Conference USA showdown. I’m taking the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over (57.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.