Date/time: Saturday, Oct. 14 - 7:00 p.m. EST
Location: Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
2023 record: MRSH 4-1 (1-0 SBC), GSU 4-1 (1-1 SBC)
Previous meetings: Marshall won the only game between these teams when they beat Georgia State 28-23 last season.
Come November, this game will probably be remembered as the deciding game for how Marshall and Georgia State finish. Take your pick as for order, but through five games these teams look like 2a and 2b in the Sun Belt East. Add in that James Madison can’t qualify for the conference title game, and this matchup might decide who represents the East Division for the championship.
A Quick Look at Marshall
After losing a shootout to NC State last week, the Thundering Herd want revenge. They won their only Sun Belt game so far, so they can technically afford a loss, but with James Madison still on the schedule you don’t want to cash it in this early.
Sophomore quarterback Cam Fancher started this season slow, but over the past two weeks he’s thrown for 693 yards and ran for 127. He does have an ugly three-game interception streak but otherwise has looked very good as of late.
Alongside Fancher is running back Rasheen Ali. Ali ran for 1,401 yards and 22 touchdowns two years ago but missed most of last season with injury and has been hit-or-miss. He ran for 174 in a win over Virginia Tech, but then only 79 on 28 carriers against Old Dominion.
Marshall’s defense has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks all season; it averages almost four sacks per game and leads the Sun Belt in interceptions.
A Quick Look at Georgia State
Georgia State had a bye last week after looking mediocre against reigning conference champions Troy two weeks ago. The final of that game, 28-7, was uglier than the play was but exposed the fragility of the Panthers.
Despite having the Sun Belt’s second-place rusher, Marcus Carroll, and receiver, Robert Lewis, the offense hinges on the performance of quarterback Darren Grainger.
Despite a 7-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio this season, Grainger is notorious for his hot-and-cold performances that put his team in really tough spots. Since joining the team in 2021, GSU is 3-8 in games he throws an interception.
Defensively, the Panthers are third-best in the Sun Belt against the run, which will bode well against Ali, but the pass defense is second-worst in the conference.
On paper, this game makes for an easy Marshall win. The offenses go toe-to-toe, but the Thundering Herd defense outclasses GSU’s by a considerable margin.
Ali versus the Panther rush defense will be a matchup to watch, but even if he is stifled Fancher can torch GSU’s secondary. Add in what might be the hardest matchup for Grainger thus far and this is an on-paper cakewalk for Marshall.