How will Marshall fare this season following an outstanding year in 2014? Can Purdue get off on the right foot.Those answers and much more can be found inside.
Marshall Open at Home Versus Big Ten Foe
The Marshall Thundering Herd and Purdue Boilermakers will meet on Sunday afternoon in what will be season openers for both teams. The opening kickoff at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia is slated for 3:00 PM ET. According to current (9/3) college football betting odds, Marshall is a consistent 7.5 point favorite across the major sportsbook landscape, and the total ranges from 62.0 to 63.0.
Boilermakers Football Program Woes
Purdue has gone an embarrassing 7-26 during their last 33 games. During that stretch, they’ve also gone 4-11 ATS as a college football pick or underdog of 17.0 or less. Darrell Hazell was lured away from Akron to take over as head coach in West Lafayette, Indiana prior to embarking on the 2013 season. Hazell may be having second thoughts about accepting the position after going 4-20 in his first two years, and that includes an atrocious 1-15 during Big Ten action. As a matter of fact, two of those four victories in Hazell’s tenure have come over FCS schools Indiana State and Southern Illinois. The good news, the Boilermakers return 15 starters from a season ago. The bad news, those players were part of an awful 2014 campaign that saw Purdue finish at 3-9.
Starting Over After Dream Season
Marshall came within an eyelash of a perfect 14-0 season in 2014. They suffered their only loss in their regular season finale at home to Western Kentucky 67-66 in overtime. They bounced back from that loss by defeating Louisiana Tech in the CUSA title game, and then trounced Northern Illinois 52-23 at the Boca Raton Bowl. Marshall should once again be one of the favorites to win another CUSA title. However, they’ll have to do so without record setting quarterback Rakeem Cato who was lost to graduation. All Cato did in 2014 was to throw for 3903 yards and toss 40 touchdown passes. He also ran for another 482 yards and scored 8 touchdowns. Putting those numbers into proper perspective, Cato accounted for 4385 yards and 48 touchdowns a season ago. The cupboard isn’t exactly empty in 2015. The Thundering Herd returns 2014 leading rusher Devon Johnson who ran for 1767 yards, scored 17 touchdowns, and averaged an eye popping 8.6 yards per carry.
Needless to say, Marshall won’t be nearly as strong as they were a year ago, but they’ll still be pretty darn good team. A miscellaneous factor certainly applies to this matchup. It’s not often that a Conference USA team gets the opportunity to host an opponent from a “Power Five” (SEC, BIG 10, PAC-12, BIG 12, or ACC) conference. Let alone a program with the glorious history that Marshall possesses, and one that has such a passionate fan base. Marshall still has enough juice despite the loss of Cato to handle a bottom feeder from the Big Ten like Purdue.
Free College Football Pick: Marshall -7.5 -105 at Pinnacle.