Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – After weeks of residing in the “others
receiving votes” section of the AP Top 25, Marshall finally made the jump into
the poll as the 25th-ranked FBS squad.
Now the goal is to remain undefeated and work up the ladder. The first step is
a matchup at Florida International and the 3-4 Golden Panthers. These two teams
met last year with the Thundering Herd winning a 48-10 battle in Miami, the
site of this season’s contest. The Herd led 34-3 after three quarters and
outgained Florida International, 558 yards to 262.
This season has been a strong one for Marshall as Doc Holliday’s club is
ranked second nationally in scoring (48 points per game) and total offense
(595 yards per game). The Herd also are tied for eighth in scoring defense (17
ppg) and rank 25th in total defense (328 ypg), so their success is not solely
based on one side of the line of scrimmage.
Marshall has not scored fewer than 42 points in a game this season, so the
likelihood of putting up 40 points or more is strong even though Florida
International is 24th nationally in scoring defense. However, the Golden
Panthers have played two games against FCS competition, along with contests
against Florida Atlantic and UTSA – two teams averaging just 20 points per
game. In their other two matchups, they allowed 42 points to Pittsburgh and 34
to Louisville. Those two squads are not even ranked in the top 50 nationally in
FIU’s best defensive effort came versus UAB, a team averaging 40 points per
game. The Golden Panthers held the Blazers to 20 points below their season
average. Nonetheless, UAB turned the ball over six times, something Marshall
will not do.
On the defensive side, look for the Thundering Herd to hold FIU below 20 points
as the Golden Panthers have been limited to an average of 14 points per
game by the only three FBS teams they have faced allowing 25 or fewer points
Take Marshall minus 21.5 points in the first of three five-star plays.
The other two games come from the Mid-American Conference.
First, Central Michigan hosts Ball State with the former favored by 7.5
The Chippewas struggled early in the season with injuries and suspensions
early but have rebounded nicely with back-to-back, double-digit wins over Ohio
and Northern Illinois.
Running Back Thomas Rawls ran for 229 yards and two touchdowns versus Ohio and
then scampered for 270 yards and two more touchdowns against the Huskies.
Meanwhile, quarterback Cooper Rush has connected on 69 percent of his passes
the last four games after completing just 58 percent over the first three.
Ball State lost by nine at Army and by 11 at Toledo in its last two road
games. In fact, the Cardinals’ only win of the season came against Colgate.
Take Central Michigan minus 7.5 points.
The other five-star selection pits Bowling Green and Western Michigan.
Wagering on Bowling Green has been a shaky proposition this season. Going into
last week’s game at Ohio, the Falcons were 1-5 against the spread. They
covered last Saturday in their 18-point win over the Bobcats but were
outgained by over 150 yards. Still, the Falcons have to feel confident with a
three-game winning streak on their hands even though the previous two games
were won by a combined six points.
Western Michigan is 3-3 on the season, but one of the wins came against FCS
member Murray State while the other two were over FBS teams with a combined
1-11 record. Surprisingly, Bowling Green is favored by less than a field goal.
Take the Falcons minus 1.5 points.
TWO THREE-STAR CHOICES
UCLA has done nothing right the last two weeks, losing home games to Utah
and Oregon. Now the Bruins take their act to Berkeley, where California has
beaten them the last seven meetings. The Golden Bears were getting points in
three of those contests – the same circumstance as Saturday.
California is a seven-point underdog despite a 4-2 record. In addition, one of
the losses came on a last second “Hail Mary” by Arizona. The other loss, last
week’s 24-point defeat to Washington, was not as bad as the scoreboard
indicated as the Golden Bears turned the ball over three times and were
outgained by just 16 yards.
Take Cal plus seven points, even though you won’t need them.
Finally, Northwestern hosts Nebraska in a battle of two evenly matched squads.
Nebraska won the last two meetings by a combined four points while
Northwestern grabbed the 2011 contest by three points.
The Cornhuskers are 7-4 straight up in their last 11 conference road games,
but they have not won a single game by more than six points, outside of a 44-7
victory over last year’s 1-11 Purdue team.
The Wildcats went into Minneapolis last Saturday on a three-game winning
streak but were four-point underdogs on the road. This was a prime spot for
Minnesota to get both the SU and ATS victories, and even though the Golden
Gophers did just that, they needed a fourth-quarter, 100-yard kickoff return
for a touchdown to break a 17-17 tie. Despite the loss, Northwestern recorded
twice the number of first downs (28-14) and outgained the Gophers by 119 yards.
Take Northwestern plus seven points.
Take Virginia Tech +1.5 (Pittsburgh), Florida Atlantic +5.5 (Western Ky),
Eastern Michigan +16 (Massachusetts), Middle Tennessee +1.5 (UAB) and South
Alabama -18 (Georgia State).
Take Alabama -11 (Texas A&M), Kansas +13 (Texas Tech), Oklahoma State +9
(TCU), Colorado +19.5 (USC), Kentucky +10 (LSU) and Stanford -3 (Arizona
THIS YEAR’S RECORD
My overall record stands at 60-48-2 after a 5-8-1 mark in Week 7. There were
zero five-star selections, so they remain at 4-3. The three-star selections
went 0-3 and are 9-4 overall. The two-star choices went 3-2 for a seven-week
total of 21-22. The one-star plays went 2-3-1 for a 26-19-2 mark.
THIS WEEK’S JEFF FRANK DIRTY DOZEN
1) Ole Miss, 103; 2) Florida State, 101.5; 3) Georgia, 100.5; 4-T) Baylor and
Auburn, 100; 6) Alabama, 99.5; 7-T) Mississippi State and Ohio State, 99; 9)
Oregon, 98.5; 10) Oklahoma, 97.5; 11) Michigan State, 97; 12) TCU, 96
(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team’s won-loss record. It is
based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the
beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which
changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous