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 drivesIt 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 playSince 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.
- Thundering Herd are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Thundering Herd are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Thundering Herd are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 conference games.
- Thundering Herd are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Owls are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Owls are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
- Owls are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Owls are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.