Marshall Thundering Herd (7-3, 5-2 C-USA) vs FIU Panthers (8-3, 6-1 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 24, 12:00 PM
TV: Stadium (Facebook Page)/ Play-By-Play: Noah Coslov, Analyst: Max Starks, Sidelines: Dani Klupenger
Radio: WAXY 790 The Ticket Miami (Play-By-Play: A.J. Ricketts, Analyst:Kenny Kelly)/WDDG 93.7 FM The Dawg (Play-By-Play: Steve Cotton & Mark Martin)
Location: Riccardo Silva Stadium, University Park, FL
Betting Line: Marshall -3 O/U 52.5
All-Time Series Record: Marshall leads, 4-2 (FIU won last match-up 41-30 in 2017)
FIU’s chances of winning Conference USA’s East division were 100-1 according to the Las Vegas sportsbooks entering the season.
Fast forward to week 13 and the young Panther team can clinch a division title with a win. However, they’re facing arguably one of their toughest opponents of the season in the Thundering Herd.
James Morgan has been one of the biggest turnaround stories in college football. The Bowling Green transfer had 26 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions in two seasons as Falcon.
In his first campaign as a Panther, he’s thrown 25 touchdowns and 6 interceptions becoming one of the most efficient passers in FBS football.
A major reason for Morgan’s success is the play of the offensive line.
The unit gave up 23 sacks last season and the number should have been higher if not the athletic Alex McGough behind center. This year’s group has allowed only eight and is coming off of their best performance of the season in the win over Charlotte.
For FIU to win Saturday, Morgan and the offensive line must rise to the occasion against an elite Marshall defense.
The defense has been a mixed bag in year two under Defensive Coordinator Brent Guy.
They’ve had strong performances against Western Kentucky, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Rice and Middle Tennessee State. But they’ve also taken their lumps and given up rushing yards in enormous numbers against multiple teams.
Their biggest challenge Saturday will be an elite receiver in Marshall’s Tyre Brady.
The dynamic Miami native is fourth in the conference is receiving yards despite catching balls from multiple quarterbacks. FIU’s Stantley Thomas-Oliver will most likely draw the assignment versus Brady.
It’s been a season of near misses for the Herd.
Six points has been the difference between having nine wins vs the seven they currently have.
In the process they’ve dealt with injuries and a quarterback rotation that’s undoubtedly played a part in them being a game short of being in the East division race.
Redshirt freshman Isaiah Green has battled a knee injury and veteran Alex Thomson on his way to establishing himself as the Herd’s future and present. The former three-star prospect is immensely talented and is coming off of his best collegiate performance.
Green threw for 387 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-0 win over UTSA.
If he’s going to put back to back strong performances together, he’ll need to get the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of Brady and fellow receiver Obi Obialo.
The Herd’s run game has been a tale of two seasons.
Sophomore Tyler King was well on his way to having another outstanding season before suffering a leg injury against Florida Atlantic. Keion Davis filled in admirably before he himself was hurt last week. It’s now in the hands of Brenden Knox and Anthony Anderson to get the ground game going.
King is game-time decision.
What hasn’t been a disappointment is the Marshall defense. The unit leads the conference in rushing yards against allowing a stingy 91.5 per game. They’re also second in points per game allowed and sacks.
Linebacker Chase Hancock and safety Mailk Gant have been excellent along with Ty Tyler who leads the team with seven sacks. They’ll face a tall task in Conference USA’s highest rated passer James Morgan but are well equipped to have success.
The Panthers have put themselves in position to win their division for the first time in program history. Standing between them and that goal is a dangerous Herd team. The difference in this one will be the ability for FIU to stop the run and can Green get in a rhythm early.
Expect a closely contested contest for four quarters.
I had Marshall winning at the beginning of the season. But without a healthy King, FIU makes enough plays to win.
FIU 28 Marshall 27