Start Time: 3:30 P.M. ET, Saturday, Oct. 3
Location: Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, West Virginia
TV: American Sports Network
Records: Old Dominion 2-2, Marshall 3-1. Marshall leads the overall series 1-0.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: Marshall -18.5. Over/Under: 53.5.
Old Dominion Outlook: After two weeks of great offensive production, everything has fallen to the wayside for Old Dominion in recent weeks. Ray Lawry (78/475/6TD) leads a rushing attack that saw their success rate drop to 41.0% on the season. A stuff rate of 23.4% is a main reason for that issue. The Monarchs offensive line is getting beat at the line of scrimmage and giving Lawry and company virtually no chance at a positive play. Overall, Old Dominion is rushing the football for 151.3 yards per game at 4.3 yards per carry on the year.
The nicest way to put things for the Monarchs passing game is that Shular Bentley (57-105/590/3TD) is struggling a bit. Bentley’s 54.3% completion rate is worrisome, but expected. Bentley has found four receivers (Pascal, Washington, Duhart, England) to receive the majority of his targets. The quartet account for 61.8 of Bentley’s pass attempts. Zach Pascal (11/64/0TD) and David Washington (7/65/1TD) have totaled 18 catches on the season, but have been targeted 36 times.
For a team that has been outscored 87-14 in the last two games combined, the inability to stop the run game has been a death sentence. Old Dominion is giving up successful running plays on 54.3% of all rushing attempts. The defense has given up 228.5 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry on the season. The Monarchs pass defense ranks in the top 56 in S&P+, success rate, IsoPPP, and adjusted sack rate, ranking #24 nationally in S&P+.
Players to watch on defense include: Linebacker TJ Ricks (37 tkl, 1 tfl) and defensive backs Justice Davilla (32 tkl) and Fellonte Misher (30 tkl).
Marshall Outlook: The Thundering Herd head into this matchup on a two game winning streak with wins over Norfolk State and Kent State for a 3-1 record.
Marshall is one of the least explosive offenses in the nation with an IsoPPP of 1.14, good for #109 nationally. Despite having running back Devon Johnson (59/390/3TD) in the backfield, the run game is only successful on 38.3% of their carries. Tony Pittman (29/161/0TD) is a solid backup, but he is not the same battering ram that Johnson can be. A rushing IsoPPP of 1.24 is good for #16 nationally. As a whole, the run game is accounting for 165.5 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry.
The problem with Marshall in the passing game is that neither Michael Birdsong (39-69/340/2TD) nor Chase Litton (38-67/421/6TD) are very accurate. Combined, the two are only completing 56.6% of their passes on the season. Deon-Tay McManus (10/105/0TD) has been the most targeted receiver on the team with 20.5% of the pass attempts heading his way. Allen, Foster and Yurachek are also being targeted on over 10% of quarterback pass attempts, with only Yurachek (82.4%) sporting a catch rate over 60%
Just like in 2014, the Marshall defense is having a solid season with a ranking of 51 or better nationally in four of the five factors. Opposing offenses are generating 188.8 yards per game on the ground with a 4.0 yards per carry average and a 41.6% success rate. The Marshall pass defense, giving up 175.2 yards per game, is holding offenses to a ridiculous 32.8% success rate. The defense ranks over #100 nationally in S&P+ during the first and third quarters, but jumps to #38 in the second quarter and an impressive #12 nationally in the fourth quarter.
Evan McKelvey (47 tkl, 4 tfl) and Tiquan Lang (35 tkl, 2 INT) are the leading tacklers for a defense that has 24 tackles for loss and five sacks on the season.
Prediction: Everything statistically says that Marshall is the better team and should be able to take care of Old Dominion. Marshall holds a win probability of 74% with a projected win margin of 10.9 points. Lawry should get his stats versus a porous Marshall rush defense, but that will not be enough. Marshall should be able to use Johnson only when needed and do just enough to pull out this win. Marshall 27, Old Dominion 14.