This had the potential to be a great Conference USA showdown between two teams undefeated in conference play. Then FAU had to go and lose a lead in the final minutes again and now this matchup has lost a ton of luster. Oh well. The show must go on.
Start Time: 12:00 P.M. ET.
Where: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL.
TV: Fox College Sports
Radio: FAU here. Marshall here.
Series: Marshal leads 2-0
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: Marshall -6.5, Over/Under Point Total 53.5
Forecasting Marshall: The 2015 version of Marshall Football has been far from the fan's expectations and no where close to last season's blistering pace with video game-like numbers. The Herd averages just under 32 points per game but only 338 yards of offense. However, Marshall is 4-0 under true freshman quarterback Chase Litton. Marshall has struggled mightily with injuries through the first half of the season, but with the return of Devon Johnson and Remi Watson to the backfield, Marshall could be ready for a breakout game. Litton's favorite targets have been tight end Ryan Yurachek and slot receiver Deandre Reaves but has the potential to hit the deep ball to Davonte Allen or Deon-Tay McManus. Johnson rushed for a school record 272 yards in last year's win and is primed to have his best game of the season.
This was supposed to be the question mark coming in but has become the staple of the team. Gary Thompson earned CUSA and College Football Madness Defensive Player of the Week honors after last week's win over Southern Miss and has played like a man on a mission the past few games. Joining Thompson has been defensive lineman Ryan Bee and linebacker Evan McKelvey as the trio has been a force to reckon with this season. McKelvey leads the nation in tackling (70) and Bee has gone from third string to starting end after back-to-back weeks of dominant performances. Marshall's defense operates on the bend but don't break mentality giving up 17.5 points per contest (23rd Nationally) and held the top ranked offense in the conference to 10 points last week.
Forecasting FAU: Through five games last season FAU was 2-3 in Charlie Partridge's first year as head coach. Through five games this season FAU is 1-4 with a much easier schedule. Whether the team has regressed or not is up for debate.
What isn't up for debate is the fact that FAU continues to lose leads late in the fourth quarter which eventually leads to another gut-wrenching loss.
FAU has played Marshall tough since joining C-USA so they will enter the game with some confidence. This game may come down to the final possession again.
The offense looked much better last week with an extra week for Jaquez Johnson to heal his ankle and with the emergence of Trey Rodriguez in the backfield but Partridge has Johnson as a game time decision for this week's matchup due to his ankle injury flaring up towards the end of the game against Rice. If he can't go, Jason Driskel will get the start and we all know how the Owls offense performed last time he started this year.
The defense performed well against their first decent offense since playing Miami (FL.) but faltered towards the end giving up two touchdowns on Rice's last two drives. The team has the talent to make this a game but where their mind is at after suffering another late game collapse is anyones guess.
Noon starts for South Florida teams should be banned. The crowd will either be late arriving or non-existent which does FAU no favors in the home-field advantage department and we all know how well the Marshall fan base travels.
Marshall: FAU enters this game with a banged up Jarquez Johnson, raising questions of how effective he can be with two bad ankles against Marshall's pressure. Likewise for the Herd, what can it do against the Owl's front four. Too many offensive weapons for Litton, including Johnson in the backfield, for the Herd to fall in this one.
Marshall 34 FAU 14
FAU: Honestly, the only outcome that would surprise me is FAU winning this game by two possessions. If it weren't for special team miscues FAU would have defeated Marshall the last time these two teams played in Boca. Last season FAU took a 16-14 lead into halftime before giving way in the second half. Again, FAU isn't afraid of the defending champs.
They will give Marshall a good game once again but will eventually run out of steam in the second half as Devon Johnson will be too much for the Owls defense.
Marshall 31 FAU 21