Marshall -3 (o/u 54.5) vs. South Florida
Marshall (8-4) finished the season 2nd in the East Division of Conference USA. While the offense proved more than capable of moving the ball (384.5 YPG total offense, 228 YPG passing), it was the defense that stepped up and made a real difference throughout the season. By giving up only 336 YPG, the Thundering Herd ended up the season ranked 24th in the NCAA. Of those yards, only 105 YPG (10th in the nation) were allowed on the ground. With no real stars on offense, the team had to rely on a balanced attack that scored 27.4 PPG.
South Florida enters this game in a horrendous slump. After starting the season at 7-0, the wheels came off and the Bulls ended up losing its last 5 games of the regular season to end at 7-5. A steady offense was led by QB Blake Barnette, who threw for 2,498 yards, 11 TDs and 11 interceptions while also rushing for 308 yards and 8 TDs. His supporting cast included RB Jordan Cronkrite, who rushed for 1,095 yards and 9 TDs. It was the defense that simply couldn’t keep opposing offenses out of the endzone. They gave up 31.5 PPG, which included almost 40 PPG over the last 5 games, all losses.
If the Bulls are to be competitive in this game, they have to hope the time off since the end of the season was enough to stop the defense’s slide. That’s quite possible, considering the defense was a little banged up and surely has had enough time to heal some wounds. For Marshall, it really comes down to execution on offense and the defense doing what it did all season long, stop the run.
Prediction: This is not a good matchup for South Florida. They like to run the ball and that plays right to Marshall’s strength. Play Marshall -3