Start Time: 3:00 P.M. ET, Sunday, Sept. 6
Location: Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, West Virginia
Streaming: Fox Sports App
Records: Purdue 1, Marshall 0. Last meeting: 51-41 Purdue in 2012.
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: Marshall -7.5, Over/Under of 64
Purdue Outlook: The Boilermakers head into the 2015 season as a better team than last season but their success depends on the play of quarterback Austin Appleby. The Boilermakers must replace their top two running backs but bring in freshman Markell Jones and sophomore Keyante Green, who rushed for 199 yards in 2014. The entire Purdue offensive line returns with senior center Robert Kugler leading the way. Danny Anthrop will lead a wide receiver corps that needs to step up and help Appleby in the passing game for Purdue to show improvement this fall.
The Purdue defense was not very good last season but they were very young and should be much better this fall. The return of linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (76 tkl) along with fellow linebacker Jimmy Herman (56 tkl) should make the Boilermakers better this fall. Junior Jake Replogle is the leading returning defensive lineman on a team that needs to do work in the trenches. Frankie Williams (74 tkl) played good football last season and has the ability to play cornerback or safety and has to be the leader of the defensive backfield. Anthony Brown will give Williams great backup after making 54 tackles last season.
After a summer long battle, the Thundering Herd announced Michael Birdsong as the replacement for Rakeem Cato at quarterback. Birdsong should be a solid fit in the offense but will need some time to adapt to the FBS level. Luckily for Marshall, they have a bruising running back named Devon Johnson (206/1,767/17TD) back this fall. Johnson will be relied upon heavily this fall with Birdsong finding his role at quarterback. The Thundering Herd is missing the leading pass catcher of 2014 but should have a nice trio on Deon-Tay McManus (26/422/6TD), Davonte Allen (22/544/4TD), and Hyleck Foster (18/254/3TD). Tight end Ryan Yurachek (17/149/2TD) should also see the ball quite a bit. Clint Van Horn leads a trio of offensive linemen that made double digit starts last fall.
Lost in how effective the offense was for Marshall last fall was just how good the defense performed. The Thundering Herd return three defensive linemen that made 30+ tackles last fall in Steve Dillon (35 tkl), Joe Massaquoi (32 tkl), and Jarquez Samuel (30 tkl). Marshall also adds UCF transfer Blake Keller to the squard after sitting out the 2014 season as a transfer. Senior linebacker D.J. Hunter (80 tkl) should be able to shore up a linebacker corps that must reload this fall, but he should get some help from Maryland transfer Shawn Petty. The Thundering Herd return four defensive backs that all made 63+ tackles last fall led by senior Taj Letman (94 tkl). Marshall also returns 1st team All-CUSA punter Tyler Williams (44.1 avg.) for his senior season.
Prediction: With a less than challenging overall schedule, Marshall has very few chances to make a national impact. One of those chances is a Sunday afternoon game with Big Ten foe Purdue. The Boilermakers bring a much improved team from the 2014 season and should be able to at least hold serve for a while in this game. The line has dropped closer in favor of Purdue with Marshall only a 7.5 point favorite right now. Marshall is more talented and while they may get a stronger challenge than expected, the Thundering Herd should get to 1-0.