Start Time: 3:30 PM EST, Saturday, November 7
Location: Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
TV: FOX Sports Net
Streaming: Fox Sports Go App
Records: Marshall: 8-1. MTSU: 3-5. Marshall leads the overall series 3-1.
Live Stats: here.
Line: MTSU -3. Over/Under: 57.
Marshall Outlook: Marshall enters the contest with the top ranked defense in the league, allowing a league-best 16.1 points per contest, 352 total yards, and only 177.4 yards through the air. Numbers like this could spell doom for Middle Tennessee's quarterback Brent Stockstill, as his 305.6 yards per game average could face its toughest test to date.
Marshall's defense will lean on linebackers Evan McKelvey and D.J. Hunter, with Taj Letman and Corey Tindal locking down the air attack while enforcing the Herd's "No Fly Zone" motto. Up front, Marshall presents a defensive line that not only has size and quickness; it also has remarkable depth, with as many as 10 different players lining up in the trenches this season. Jarquez Samuel and Gary Thompson have created a significant push into the opposition's backfield, while Ryan Bee and Blake Keller have locked down the edges.
Last week in Charlotte, Herd quarterback Chase Litton appeared to cash in the keys to the compact sedan while grabbing the ones to the Ferrari. Litton paced Marshall to a 34-10 win over the 49ers after the freshman tossed a career-high 486 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Litton had 333 yards at the break. Of those 486 yards, 232 went to Davonte Allen—including a career-long for the duo of 66 yards for a score—on 12 catches.
Remi Watson, Hyleck Foster and Keion Davis all rushed for over 40 yards each and for the first time this season, Marshall's offense looked like the explosive juggernaut fans had grown to love over the past few seasons.
MTSU Outlook: For the Bluer Raiders, this game is all about proving to the rest of Conference USA that they are ready to sit at the adult table.
The weapons are there on offense for MTSU with quarterback Brent Stockstill leading the way. He leads a passing game that is among the most explosive in the nation with the #19 passing IsoPPP. Stockstill has the program's freshman record for passing yards in a season, demolishing the previous freshman total set by Kelly Holcomb. The Blue Raiders have two of the best receiving options in the nation with senior Ed'Marques Batties and freshman Richie James. The two have combined for 125 of the teams 215 totals catches on the season. Batties also has 11 receiving touchdowns on the season, good for fourth nationally.
Running the ball has been much more of a challenge for MTSU due to a series of injuries to Jordan Parker, Shane Tucker, and Jeremiah Bryson. In place of the trio has stepped Desmond Anderson. The true freshman has been the team's leading rusher in each of the last two games, including a 145 yard, three touchdown performance versus FIU. Expect to see lots of Anderson and a sprinkling of sophomore Kamani Thomas versus Marshall.
Looking at the MTSU defense, it does not look like things will come together this season. While they are good at slowing down drives inside their own territory, they have been unable to stop offenses on a regular basis. The run defense has been unable to make plays in the backfield, a surprise with one of CUSA's best linebackers in T.T. Barber. It is complete feast or famine for the MTSU pass defense as they either make a great play or give up a long pass. There tends to be no in between as evidenced by the #96 ranked pass defense IsoPPP. Overall, the Blue Raiders give up 403.5 yards per game of total offense.
James: Marshall needs to start fast and finish fast as this is the statement game the Herd needs as it enters its most difficult phase of the season. Marshall's defense is too much for Middle Tennessee as the Blue Raiders become officially eliminated from the Conference USA East Division title chase. Marshall 38, Middle Tennessee 17
Jeremy: In each of MTSU's two previous chances to prove they belong with the big boys, they have fallen flat. The Blue Raiders are hoping the third time is a charm, but I don't see it happening. Marshall 34, MTSU 21.