It’s a crossover battle in the Sun Belt as a pair of conference rivals take the field to do battle down in the Yellowhammer State. The Marshall Thundering Herd are on the road as they make the trip to take on the Troy Trojans Saturday night. Marshall comes into this contest off a 34-31 overtime loss on the road to Bowling Green last Saturday in their previous game. Troy battled to the wire but ended up falling 32-28 on the road against Appalachian State last Saturday in their most recent game. In the all-time series between the programs, the Trojans own a 2-1 advantage and have won the last two meetings. That includes a 17-15 road win in the most recent matchup on September 4, 2004.
Marshall Thundering Herd Trying to Earn Conference WinMarshall battled but ended up falling short in overtime on the road against Bowling Green in their last game. The Thundering Herd fell to 2-1 on the season and now look to open up conference play on a positive note as they travel to face Troy. Against Bowling Green, Marshall led 14-0 after the opening quarter and by a 21-7 margin in the second quarter before giving up 21 unanswered points. The Thundering Herd tied the game with under six minutes to play in regulation, kicked a field goal in overtime and then gave up the winning score on Bowling Green’s possession. Marshall piled up a 547-377 edge in total offense and a 23-19 advantage in first downs while losing time of possession by a 31:48 to 28:12 margin. Most importantly, the Thundering Herd turned the ball over three times while failing to record a takeaway.
The Thundering Herd are 71st among the 131 FBS teams to take the field this season in passing offense as they average 244.3 yards per game through the air. Marshall is 6th in rushing offense as they average 263.3 yards per contest on the ground. The Thundering Herd is 41st in the FBS in scoring offense as they average 37.3 points per game but they have sparkled defensively. Charles Huff’s group is 44th in the country in scoring defense as they allow just 19.3 points per contest. Henry Colombi has connected on 63 of 81 passes for 688 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions plus 21 rushing yards this season. Cam Fancher (five of seven, 45 yards, TD) and Peter Zamora (zero of one, zero yards) have seen limited action this season. Khalan Laborn leads the team on the ground with 67 carries for 422 yards and five scores. Ethan Payne (18 carries, 126 yards, two TD), Fancher (eight carries, 96 yards), Maurice Jones (eight carries, 51 yards and A.J. Turner (six carries, 44 yards) have seen work as well. Meanwhile, Rasheen Ali could return to action this week: he took time away from the program last month and returned to practice last week. In the passing game, Corey Gammage (12 catches, 142 yards, two TD) is the team’s leading receiver. Devin Miller (11 grabs, 82 yards, TD), Talik Keaton (11 receptions, 131 yards) and Caleb McMillan (six catches, 134 yards, TD) are good secondary options. Rece Verhoff has connected on 13 of 14 extra point attempts and five of five field goal attempts with a long of 38 this season.
Troy Trojans Hope to Regroup From HeartbreakerTroy seemed poised to spring an upset on Appalachian State in Boone in front of the College Gameday crew. The Trojans led by four with 20 seconds to play, took a safety and led by two with the Mountaineers facing a fourth and 10 at their own 47 with two seconds to go. Troy saw Appalachian State launch a Hail Mary that was deflected into the hands of Christian Horn, who scored the game-winning touchdown with zeroes on the clock. The Trojans were outgained 456-348 in total offense, lost the time of possession by a 32:08 to 27:52 margin and committed the game’s only turnover. Those facts, plus the last-second loss, offset a 24-23 advantage in first downs.
On the season, the Trojans are 8th in the country in passing offense with an average of 350.7 yards per game through the air and 127th in the country in rushing offense with 54.7 yards per contest on the ground. Troy is 97th in the FBS in scoring offense with 25.3 points per game while they are 71st in the nation in scoring defense by allowing an average of 25.7 points per contest. Gunnar Watson is 80 of 118 passing for 928 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions on the year. Jarret Doege is six of 12 passing for 124 yards and a score in his limited action. Kimani Vidal leads Troy on the ground with 33 carries for 115 yards plus a score this season. DK Billingsley (13 carries, 77 yards, TD) and Jamontez Woods (13 carries, 35 yards) have shared the backup duties this year. In the passing game, Jabre Barber (207 yards, TD) and Deshon Stoudemire (157 yards, TD) each have 16 receptions to share the team lead. RaJae’ Johnson (nine grabs, 169 yards, two TD) and Marcus Rogers (nine catches, 111 yards) have made their share of plays in the aerial game as well. Brooks Buce has hit all nine extra point attempts and two of three field goal tries with a long of 31. Zach Long hit his lone extra point attempt without attempting a field goal this season.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Troy battled a couple of tough teams in the early stages of the season as they fell to Ole Miss and Appalachian State so far this year. The Trojans have to find a way to avoid turnovers (they have six giveaways in three games this season) and finish drives with touchdowns. That could be tough sledding against a Marshall team that already has gone to South Bend and upended Notre Dame earlier this month. While Marshall stumbled against Bowling Green, you have to think that the Thundering Herd will use that as a wake-up call. The potential return of Ali is a big addition to the Marshall offense and with Troy living and dying via the passing game, you have to go with the more balanced offense. Give the advantage to the visitors in this contest.
Full-Game Total Pick
Marshall enters this game having seen the under hit in two of their three games this season. The Thundering Herd have posted combined totals of 58 points in the win over Norfolk State against a 59-point number, 47 points in their win over Notre Dame against a number of 47.5 and then 65 points in the Bowling Green contest against a 50-point number in that one. Meanwhile, Troy has exceeded the number in two of their three games this season. The Trojans combined with Ole Miss for 38 points against a 57-point number, followed by 55 points in their win over Alabama A&M against a 51.5-point total and 60 points against a 51.5-point number in the loss to Appalachian State. Marshall is excellent defensively and Troy isn’t horrible. We might not see both teams higher than the mid-20s in this game: as a result, look for this one to end up just short of the number.