Side With Marshall at Value Price of +10.5 vs. Western Kentucky

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 9:14 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 9:14 PM UTC

In the battle for the Conference USA's Eastern Division champion, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are heavily favored on the college football odds over the Marshall Thundering Herd. Should they be?

In a fortuitous turn for the Conference USA schedule makers, the Marshall Thundering Herd (9-2, 6-1) visit the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (9-2, 7-0) in the final game of the regular season to determine the winner of the C-USA East Division. In one of the best football weeks of the year for us, this game will be played on Friday morning and I plan on watching it in a post-turkey haze. Even though the win-loss records of these two teams is identical, the line indicates a valley of difference in talent. The Hilltoppers have been instilled as a 10.5 point opening home favorite in this game at multiple sportsbooks. No O/U total has been listed as of Sunday night.

Part of the reason that the Hilltoppers find themselves as heavy favorites is the play of senior quarterback, Brandon Doughty. Doughty is known for his accuracy, and leads all of football with a completion percentage of 72.8% this year. Doughty is also 4th in the FBS in passing yards and yards per game, first in QBR among starters, and second in touchdowns this year. All of this success is building on his junior year, where he posted the best numbers in the FBS in passing yards at 4,830, and touchdowns with 49. His red zone completion percentage also leads the FBS by almost 20 percentage points at 82%.

Doughty’s career numbers are just as impressive, as he is 10th all time in college football in completion percentage, 21st in QBR, and 25th in touchdowns. Padding those numbers are last year’s game against Marshall, where Doughty passed for eight touchdowns. Eight.

The Herd’s successful season has come on the back of their freshman quarterback, Chase Litton. Litton is second in all of the FBS with 20 touchdowns, but has gotten plenty of help from his offensive line. Litton has not been sacked in the last three games, which must help with the freshman’s confidence in the pocket as well. He replaces Rakeem Cato, who threw for seven touchdowns in last year’s game against Western Kentucky at their home field.

Marshall had an open date last week, so they will be coming into the game against Western Kentucky with plenty of rest. They’ll be looking for a bit of revenge too, as they were 11-0 coming into their game with the Hilltoppers last year. That game was a crazy one, going into overtime and finally being won by Western Kentucky 67-66 on a Brandon Doughty touchdown and successful two-point conversion.

This could be Brandon Doughty’s last game at home, and it will be senior night for the rest of the Western Kentucky team. Even though Marshall will be looking for a bit of revenge, I like the motivation of teams that are playing on senior night. It’s an intangible motivation factor to look out for.

Last year, Marshall outright lost their game against Western Kentucky as a 23.5-point favorite on the college football odds board. Even though I understand the conventional wisdom behind the 10.5-point line favoring the Hilltoppers in this one, I think these teams are much closer in talent in all phases – except for quarterback. Still, with the Herd coming off of a bye and rested I like the prospect of a close fought battle in this one. For that reason, I think +10.5 points is too much value here and will be taking Marshall +10.5 as one of my college football picks this holiday weekend.

College Football Picks: Marshall +10.5 at 5Dimes

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