Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 12
Location: Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio
TV: American Sports Network/WCHS-TV/ESPN3
Records: Marshall 1-0, Ohio 1-0. Ohio leads the overall series 32-20-6.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: Marshall -3. Over/Under: 61.
Marshall Outlook: The Marshall Thundering Herd held pulled out a last minute win over Purdue at home to start the 2015 season.
Michael Birdsong (23-36/234/2TD), making his first start for Marshall, passed for 234 yards in the hard fought win. The junior also rushed for 43 yards, part of 163 total rushing yards for the team, with a 4.3 yards per carry average. Seven different players caught Birdsong passes with Davonte Allen (5/59/0TD) leading the way. The Marshall rushing attack was as strong as ever with Devon Johnson (11/89/1TD) breaking out for 8.1 yards per carry in the opening game. While not as explosive as last season, the Marshall offense should be able to put a significant number of points on the board this fall.
Facing a team that was much improved from last season, Marshall's defense struggled at times in giving up 454 total yards to Purdue. One player that did not struggle was Tiquan Lang (17 tkl, 2 INT) as he scored two pick-sixes that surged Marshall to the win. Corey Tindal (10 tkl) and Gary Thompson (10 tkl, 2.5 tfl) were also standout performers for a defense that made six tackles for loss, two sacks, and four interceptions on the day. Expect Marshall's defense to improve this season as the unit gels together in game action.
Ohio Outlook: Dominant from the opening drive of the game, Ohio easily defeated Sun Belt foe Idaho on the road to start the season.
The Bobcats were better than they have been in a long time on offense in racking up 489 overall yards, 23 first downs, and 45 points. Quarterbacks Derrius Vick (13-16/192/2TD) and JD Sprague (7-9/92/1TD) both looked good leading the offense with Ohio averaging 11.4 yards per pass attempt. Daz'mond Patterson (13/84/1TD) and AJ Oullette (9/48/0TD) give the Bobcats a solid 1-2 punch at running back with both breaking the 5.0 yards per carry average in the opening game. Three Bobcat receivers made four catches with Brendan Cope (4/129/1TD) leading the way. All three of those receivers also caught a touchdown pass in the win. In total, seven different receivers made catches for Ohio.
Ohio has some work to do on defense but played a solid game in week one but have a few things to work on versus the much stonger offense of Marshall. Sophomore linebacker Quentin Poling (12 tkl, 1 tfl, 1 sack, 1 ff) picked up where he left off last fall as the team's leading tackler. Blair Brown (7 tkl) and Chad Moore (6 tkl) also made more than five tackles for a defense that had three tackles for loss, three sacks, and two interceptions.
Prediction: This game has all the earmarks for a 34-31 type of battle with Marshall holding the slight advantage. Ohio is usually pretty tough at home and look like a much better offensive team than last season, although the quarterback issue could end up being a problem down the line. Expect both teams to move the ball fairly regularly and put up points, but in the end, the Marshall defense will find a stop and move the Thundering Herd to 2-0.