Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#221 Western Kentucky vs.
#222 Marshall
Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 3:30pm EST
Written by Chris King

The Conference USA East Division title is up for grabs when the top two teams meet in the Mountaineer State. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are on the road as they travel to face the Marshall Thundering Herd Saturday afternoon. Western Kentucky knocked off Florida Atlantic 52-17 at home in their most recent contest last Saturday. Marshall went on the road and drubbed Charlotte 49-28 in their previous contest last Saturday. In the all-time series between the teams, the Thundering Herd have won four of the seven meetings, taking each of the last four meetings. That includes a 38-14 road win in the most recent matchup on October 10, 2020.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Looking to Claim Conference USA East Division

Western Kentucky won their sixth straight after a 1-4 start as they rolled past Florida Atlantic last week at home. The Hilltoppers improved to 7-4 on the season and look to win the East Division crown here. Against Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky led 14-3 after the opening quarter and never looked back as they rolled to the victory. The Hilltoppers were up 31-10 at the half and continued to pile it on in the second half en route to the win. Western Kentucky rolled up a 608-301 advantage in total offense, held a 35-18 advantage in first downs and controlled the clock by a 35:21 to 24:39 margin. Both teams turned the ball over three times though the Hilltoppers did throw a pick-six in the contest.

The Hilltoppers enter this contest leading the nation with 431.4 yards per game through the air while they are 123rd in rushing with 97.4 yards per contest. Western Kentucky is fifth in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up 42.4 points per contest while they are 79th in scoring defense by allowing 27.5 points a game. Bailey Zappe is 381 of 532 passing for 4,640 yards with 48 touchdowns against nine interceptions while adding 28 yards and three scores on the ground. Carson Baker completed his lone pass attempt for 54 yards and a score. Kye Robichaux (47 carries, 214 yards, TD), Adam Cofield (75 carries, 347 yards, four TD) and Noah Whittington (76 carries, 383 yards, TD) have shared the limited load in the run game. Jerreth Sterns leads the team with 123 receptions for 1,511 yards plus 12 scores in the passing game. Malachi Corley (62 catches, 574 yards, six TD) and Mitchell Tinsley (62 grabs, 1042 yards, 10 TD) are good receiving options. Brayden Narveson hit all 56 extra point attempts and 16 of 18 field goal attempts with a long of 43 this season.

Marshall Thundering Herd Trying to Steal East Division Title

Marshall bounced back from a home loss to UAB as they won on the road over Charlotte for their fifth win in six games. The Thundering Herd improved to 7-4 on the season overall and 5-2 in Conference USA play. Against Charlotte, Marshall broke a 14-14 tie with a 64-yard touchdown pass late in the first half. That triggered a run of 28 unanswered points by the Thundering Herd and carried them to a victory. Marshall held a 588-374 advantage in total offense, held a 29-23 advantage in first downs and forced two turnovers while not committing one. That made up for the fact that they lost the time of possession by a 30:57 to 29:03 margin.

The Thundering Herd is 11th among the 130 FBS teams to take the field this season in passing offense as they average 320.8 yards per game through the air. Marshall is 66th in rushing offense as they average 163.3 yards per contest on the ground. The Thundering Herd is 24th in the FBS in scoring offense as they average 35.2 points per game but they have sparkled defensively. Charles Huff’s group is 21st in the country in scoring defense as they allow just 20 points per contest. Grant Wells has completed 270 of 405 passes for 3,357 yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He adds 61 yards and six scores on the ground. Luke Zban is 10 of 14 for 126 yards with one touchdown and one interception plus 99 rushing yards. The run game is anchored by Rasheen Ali, who has run the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and 20 scores on the year. Sheldon Evans (63 carries, 279 yards, three TD) and Knowledge McDaniel (13 carries, 107 yards, TD) are next in line. Corey Gammage leads the team with 62 receptions for 784 yards and two scores this season. Willie Johnson (32 grabs, 625 yards, three TD), Xavier Gaines (38 catches, 447 yards, three TD), Shadeed Ahmed (35 catches, 395 yards, two TD) and Ali (38 grabs, 320 yards, TD) each have gone over 250 yards receiving this season. Shane Ciucci has hit all 35 extra point attempts and six of eight field goal attempts with a long of 46. Andrew Sanders has hit all 16 extra point attempts and two of five field goals with a long of 29 this season.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Weโ€™ve got a real clash of styles when you get down to this one as Western Kentucky piles up yards and points by the truckload. Meanwhile, Marshall is a very good defensive team that is middle of the road when it comes to putting points on the board. The Thundering Herd is at home here and they will try to lean on the ground game with Ali to move the sticks and keep Zappe and company off the field. Marshallโ€™s problem is that they face an explosive offensive attack in the Hilltoppers who donโ€™t need a ton of time to put points on the board. The Thundering Herd hangs around but Zappe is too much to overcome. Give the advantage to Western Kentucky to get the win and pick up the East Division title.

Prediction: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers +1.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Western Kentucky has seen the over hit in eight of their 11 games on the season. The Hilltoppers have three straight overs on the books coming into this one. Marshall has seen the over hit in six of their 11 games on the season and they are coming off an over in the win over Charlotte last week. Weโ€™ve seen these teams meet seven times and the over has hit in five of those contests. With that said, this one is likely set a little too high because the Marshall defense is no slack unit. Look for this one to end up somewhere in the 50s or even the low-60s as a total but having a number at 73.5 points is a little too much to ask here. Look for this one to wind up under the mark.

Prediction: Under 73.5

Written By Chris King , "Chris King"

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.