Inside Marshall Sports

C-USA notebook for games of 9/24

Hello, Herd fans!

Four conference games this week, and not a minute too soon. Nonconference play has not treated C-USA well.

The best and worst of last week:
Best 3 results
Middle Tennessee 41, Bowling Green 21: The Falcons may not be as good as advertised before losing to Ohio State by 67 and beating North Dakota by 1, but so what? Marshall fans know how tough a win it is to escape BG with a win. I’Tavius Mathers was named offensive player of the week for his 157 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 1 receiving. DT Shaquille Huff (8 tackles, 2 for loss, sack, fumble recovery) was defensive player of week.
Western Kentucky 31, Miami (Ohio) 24: This was not a 1-score game — Miami scored with 1:17 left and didn’t recover the onside kick. Notable items: (a) Mike White was back, throwing for 268 yards and 2 TDs, and (b) ex-MU commit Quinton Baker rushed for 103 yards and a score. Nicarius Fant (48-yard punt returns) was the special teams player of the week.
Arizona State 32, Texas-San Antonio 28: UTSA gave up the last 20 points, but it looked more like the Roadrunners were overwhelmed in the trenches down the stretch. QB Dalton Sturm could only escape the pass rush so long. I’m impressed with that guy.

Worst 3 results
Akron 65, Marshall 38: Need I say more?
Florida 32, North Texas 0: Lean Green gains 53 total yards.
Eastern Michigan 37, Charlotte 19: Oh, it’s worse that that — the MAC doormats lead 34-6 after 3 quarters. Best news: the game lasted just 2 hours, 54 minutes.

Non-conference report
C-USA vs. G-5
Southern Methodist 34, North Texas 21
Texas-El Paso 38, New Mexico State 22
Appalachian State 31, Old Dominion 7
Colorado State 23, Texas-San Antonio 14
Akron 65, Marshall 38
Middle Tennessee 41, Bowling Green 21
Western Kentucky 31, Miami (Ohio) 24
Eastern Michigan 37, Charlotte 19
Troy 37, Southern Miss 31
Overall: 3-6

G-5 standings
American 3-0
Mountain West 7-4
MAC 6-7
Sun Belt 4-6
C-USA 3-6
Note: Army and Massachusetts are independents and are not factored in.

C-USA best results vs. P-5
Southern Miss 44, Kentucky 35
Arkansas 21, Louisiana Tech 20 (Tech had ball with lead in 4th quarter)
Indiana 34, Florida International 13 (near-miss by loosest definition; FIU had ball in Indiana territory down by 7 in 4th quarter)
Arizona 32, UTSA 28 (led in 4th quarter)
Overall vs P-5: 1-14

This week’s offerings, in order of interest (MU-Louisville not included):
Louisiana Tech at Middle Tennessee, 7 p.m., ASN — Bulldogs were outgained by Texas Tech 666-572 last week, and the Blue Raiders have Brent Stockstill and the aforementioned Mathers. Let the good times roll!
ODDS: MTSU by 5.5. TAKE THE BLUE RAIDERS.

Southern Miss at UTEP, 8 p.m., Campus Insiders — The Golden Eagles handed last week’s game to Troy with a kickoff return fumble and a botched punt snap, when it comes down to it. UTEP, in the words of coach Sean Kugler, got “kicked in the groin” by Army. Eagles should kneecap a West Division darkhorse, but nothing’s automatic in the desert.
ODDS: Southern Miss by 10. TAKE THE EAGLES

Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky, 4:30 p.m., CBS Sports — Commodores flicked aside Middle Tennessee in Nashville, and make the short trip to play before a charged-up Hilltopper crowd. If this game runs long, Marshall fans have to hit the Internet to watch opening kickoff.
ODDS: WKU by 7.5. REALLY? TAKE VANDY.

UTSA at Old Dominion, 3:30 p.m., local in both markets — An interesting battle of teams with low expectations from the outside. As indicated, I’m impressed with Dalton Sturm and I think the Roadrunners will get through this long roadie nicely.
ODDS: ODU by 3.5. TAKE THE ROADRUNNERS.

Central Florida at Florida International, 7 p.m., beIN Sports — Remember when FIU beat the Knights last year in Orlando and celebrated like it was the Super Bowl, only to see UCF then go 0-12? Neither scenario repeats this year.
ODDS: UCF by 6.5. FIU LOSES, BUT SOMEHOW COVERS.

Ball State at Florida Atlantic, 6 p.m., C-USA TV — Hey, Charlie Partridge, what was that mess in Manhattan? The Owls have had some injuries and shuffling on the offensive line, I see. When I see (or write) “shuffling” and “offensive line” in the same sentence, I think, “uh, oh.”
But I can’t pull the trigger on Ball State.
ODDS: Ball State by 3.5. TAKE THE OWLS.

North Texas at Rice, 6 p.m., C-USA-TV — I care because North Texas is on Marshall’s schedule.
ODDS: Rice by 7.5. PUH-LEEZE … TAKE THESE OWLS, TOO.

Charlotte at Temple, noon, ESPN3 — I care because Charlotte is on Marshall’s schedule.
ODDS: Temple by 27.5 THROW IN THESE OWLS, AS WELL.

Last week vs. number: 2-10. Season: 10-17.

Grades for Akron game

OFFENSE: D

You’d think 560 total yards and 38 points would be worth something, but not really. There were 4 turnovers, 2 resulting in TDs, the running attack was ho-hum and the Herd did nothing to stop the bleeding in the second quarter. 2nd quarter drives: fumble, punt, punt, interception, punt, interception, end of half. Hell, I’m being generous with this one!

DEFENSE: F

Take out the 3 “Beamer Ball” TDs and the Herd still gave up 44, and still made Thomas Woodson look like a Heisman finalist. What will Lamar Jackson do?

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Penalty nullifies successful fake punt, blocked punt for TD and my “favorite,” Corey Neely’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a kickoff that wasn’t returned.

QUARTERBACKING: D

This one may be generous, too. As Litton will tell you, he can’t have 4 turnovers himself, and that’s what he did. Not sure 1st interception was his fault, but know 2nd one was. The 3rd one that went for a TD, I confess my attention was divided.

COACHING: F

Anybody want to help out Chris Jackson on that island over there? Give him a life raft, a rope, a safety over the top, an actual zone defense or SOMETHING. Perhaps a tryout of Terry Richardson at the corner with George Davis at nickel might work; I don’t know. And … how about 2 practice periods on getting people lined up properly? Illegal formation fouls (too many in the backfield) are inexcusable. And there were character issues out there (see Neely penalty).

OVERALL: F

Don’t even try to tell me this was a nonconference game and “doesn’t count.” Just try to tell me this Marshall team isn’t beatable by any particular team on the schedule. Yes, I’m including Charlotte. I’m certainly including Louisville.

 

Hear ye! Hear ye! Akron game prediction

Hello, Herd fans!
I hope you caught some of my stuff this week because I sure wrote a lot of it. Or so it seems.

This will be short. The trick is trying not to bring the 2014 game into this because (a) Akron is better in several ways and (b) there won’t be 30 combined penalties … I think.

Marshall will win this game because:

  • MU offense vs. Akron defense will get ugly. The Zips’ vaunted ends will find their way to Chase Litton a few times, but he is learning the art of checking down. When the front four is sealed off, Litton will thrive even against seven defenders, running for a first down and throwing to the tight ends. But the Herd may open all that up with a solid running game. (200 rushing yards, maybe?)
  • MU’s defense will give up some points, but play more than well enough: Thomas Woodson is no Lamar Jackson, but his mobility must be respected. But eventually, MU defenders will run him down. I am liking those four ends plus Damien Dozier a lot.
  • RB Warren Ball and WR Jerome Lane will get their longer gains, but the Herd shouldn’t give up major “chunk” plays that kill you.
  • MU will win the return game: JoJo Natson will not gain a yard on punt returns, as Kaare Vedvik will either kick it out of bounds or force fair catches. This is how the Herd has neutralized punt returners for 5 of Doc Holliday’s previous 6 years (2012 is the exception).

As of this writing, the Herd is a 17.5-point favorite. MARSHALL 45, AKRON 21

Conference USA notebook, 9/15

14 games in the league this week, a lot to munch on. Here we go:

The best and worst of last week:
Best 3 results
There weren’t 3 good results, unless you really want to count Marshall’s 62-0 win over Morgan State or Southern Mississippi’s 56-0 whuppin’ of Savannah State. Savannah eked out 41 total yards.
Ugh. I’ll name a valiant effort in defeat, which is …
Colorado State 23, Texas-San Antonio 14: The Roadrunners lost momentum late in the second half, while up 17-14. First, they allowed a 45-yard pass, then committed TWO offsides penalties on missed field goals. The third try was good, allowing the Rams to lead 20-14. The Roadrunners failed to score on their last seven possessions.

Worst 3 results
Miami 38, Florida Atlantic 10: The Owls punted on their first seven possessions. Somehow, the Owls only fell behind 7-0 in that time, but eventually the roof caved in. Total yardage: Miami 474, FAU 214.
Alabama 38, Western Kentucky 10: It wasn’t really that the Hilltoppers struggled against the No. 1 team in the land, but it was losing QB Mike White. He is undergoing concussion protocol, but coach Jeff Brohm is optimistic he’ll play this week at Miami (Ohio).
White was knocked out by an after-the-whistle body slam by Crimson Tide linebacker late in the second quarter.
Appalachian State 31, Old Dominion 7: The Mountaineers outscored the Monarchs 80-7 in 2015 and 2016 meetings. ASU went up 17-0 after three possessions.
ODU’s Anthony Wilson was named C-USA’s player of the week after his 11 tackles and three sacks.

Non-conference report
C-USA vs. G-5
Southern Methodist 34, North Texas 21
Texas-El Paso 38, New Mexico State 22
Appalachian State 31, Old Dominion 7
Colorado State 23, UTSA 14
Overall: 1-3

C-USA best results vs. P-5
Southern Miss 44, Kentucky 35
Arkansas 21, Louisiana Tech 20 (Tech had ball with lead in 4th quarter)
Indiana 34, Florida International 13 (near-miss by loosest definition; FIU had ball in Indiana territory down by 7 in 4th quarter)
Overall: 1-8

This week’s offerings, in order of interest (MU-Akron not included):
Middle Tennessee at Bowling Green, noon, ASN/ESPN3 — Both teams are the preseason favorites on their respective league’s East Division, so Conference USA’s TV-devastated pride is on the line.

Troy at Southern Miss, 7 p.m., beIN Sports — Amazingly, the Eagles scored their first shutout since 2009 and are 2-0 for the first time since that same year. Ito Smith and George Payne both rushed for 100-plus yards for the second straight game, and Allenzae Staggers was special teams player of the week for a 75-yard punt return.
Troy gave Clemson a major scare last week, but they still might be a mid-pack Sun Belt school. We’ll see
ODDS: Southern Miss by 10.5. EAGLES TO FINISH STRONG.

Louisiana Tech at Texas Tech, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net — Trent Taylor was C-USA’s offensive player of the week after his 11 catches for 178 yards rung up South Carolina State. The Bulldogs will need him to double that — don’t laugh, it can happen — against a Red Raider team that scored 55 in regulation and still lost by 13.
The teams haven’t met since 1933. ODDS: Texas by 10.5. TAKE THE BULLDOGS.

WKU at MIami (Ohio), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3 — Hilltoppers coach Jeff Brohm is optimistic White will be available, but aren’t all coaches that way about their QB? I’d be more optimistic about blanking the RedHawks after those slugs were beaten 21-17 by Eastern Illinois.
ODDS: WKU by 17.5. TAKE THE HILLTOPPERS

Eastern Michigan at Charlotte, 6 p.m. C-USA TV — This is a tribute to my sick, twisted, bottom-dwelling humor. A long time ago at the Charleston Daily Mail, I wrote a college column and would pick the pillow fight that week, and the score always would be 3-2.
In that spirit … Odds: Eastern Michigan by 3. TAKE THE 49ERS, I GUESS.

Florida International at Massachusetts, 3:30 p.m., ASN — This game will indeed be played on campus at UMass’ 17,000-seat McGuirk Stadium.  Not sure how well the Minutemen draw, but 10,000 empties would make the Panthers feel right at home.
FIU QB Alex McGough was hurt twice last week against Maryland, but he is expected to make his 26th straight start. And how do the Minutemen function post-Frohnapfel? ODDS: FIU by 1. PANTHERS, I GUESS.

Army at Texas-El Paso, 7 p.m., ASN — Fun fact: Army’s quarterback is Ahmad Bradshaw, and he leads the team in passing with 4 of 9 for 66 yards. In two games.
UTEP’s Aaron Jones has 372 rushing yards, and should get 150 more here … but it won’t be enough. ODDS: Army by 3.5. GO ARMY.

Baylor at Rice, 8 p.m. Friday, ESPN — ODDS: Baylor by 31.5. TAKE THE BEARS.

ODU at North Carolina State, 6 p.m., ESPN3 — ODDS: N.C. State by 23.5. AGAIN, RIDE THE FAVORITES.

FAU at Kansas State, 2:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net — ODDS: Kansas State by 25.5. CHANGING IT UP, TAKE THE OWLS.

Arizona State at UTSA, 9:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN2 — ODDS: ASU by 20.5. TAKE THE SUN DEVILS.

North Texas at Florida, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU — I guess it really is too early for a homecoming game in the SEC. ODDS: Florida by 36. OMG! TAKE THE GATORS.

Last week: 3-5. Season: 8-7.

Report card for Morgan State game

OFFENSE: A-

I’ll nitpick on 2 of 11 on 3rd downs, 1 of 5 in the first half. The Herd did convert all 3 4th downs and roll up 418 1st-half yards.

DEFENSE: A+

Zero points, 2 defensive TDs, 222 total yards. Check.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-

Not a good day for Amareto Curraj. He missed an extra point, knocked 2 kickoffs out of bounds and missed a field goal, though the latter was not his fault. It was somebody’s fault, as the kick was partially blocked. Kaare Vedvik had a great debut as punter, starting with a 50-yarder into the wind, with no return.

QUARTERBACKING: A-

Nitpicking for Garet Morrell’s debut, which wasn’t great. Litton’s 6-TD performance, even considering the competition, was fantastic. Great way to ease into the season.

COACHING: A

Calling the fake punt was perfect; Morgan State was almost totally unprepared.

OVERALL: A

Herd was supposed to beat this team like a pinata, and it did.

 

 

Finally, the Morgan State game arrives

Hey Marshall fans!
We are only 8 days away from the Thundering Herd’s opening game.
Oops! Did I give you a heart attack? Yes, that long awaited opener against Morgan State comes at 6 p.m. Saturday, a day from when I wrote this.
Feel better?
But the real opener comes Sept. 17, when the Herd takes on Terry Bowden’s Akron team. That’s when we’ll begin to see what the Marshall team is made of, a week before Louisville comes to town.
The Morgan State game should be for entertainment purposes only, though the Herd will get the supreme jitters and fall behind 7-0. No panicking allowed.
Eventually, the Herd is going to drop the bomb. Those 4 backs, however the coaches use them, will see gaping holes even if the Bears put 7 in the box. If Holy Cross runs for 250+ on those guys, what will the Herd do?
We saw what a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team looks like when Norfolk State comes to town — a linebacker and a safety or 2 could crack the Marshall 2-deep, and 1 or 2 skill guys. Maybe the quarterback, who is usually rendered hopeless by halftime.
An example: MU folks have noticed Morgan nose guard Antoine McCray, and how couldn’t you? The man’s listed at 6-foot-2, 340 pounds and I’m getting he’s a few stones more. A perfect 3-4 nose, right?
I don’t know. I’m betting half the MEAC 300-pounders can’t run a 3-cone drill without falling on their posteriors. He’ll initiate MU center Levi Brown for a few plays, then get pushed around hard on the usual double-team. I know without looking this guy’s not exactly Dontari Poe. (the Kansas City chief via Memphis)
Go for the entertainment, go because you haven’t seen Herd football in forever. Go to see who you like, first or second team.
But don’t read this as a yardstick for the future, near or far. This Morgan State team is better than 2014 Gardner-Webb but not as good as Norfolk State. Which means they’ll get manhandled.
MARSHALL 61, MORGAN STATE 13

Conference USA notebook, 9/9-10

First, the best and worst of last week:
Best 3
Southern Mississippi 44, Kentucky 35: When the opposing coach apologizes to his fans, you’ve probably played a heck of a game. Not only did the Golden Eagles scored the final 30 points, they outgained UK 364-0 in the final 30:26.
A complete butt-kicking.
Arkansas 21, Louisiana Tech 20: The Bulldogs missed a huge opportunity to go up 23-14 when Jonathan Barnes doinked the upright from 39 yards. The Razorbacks then drove 77 yards in 13 plays to take a 21-20 lead, and the Bulldogs couldn’t cross midfield. Arkansas ran out the final 3:35.
Still, this Tech team with considerable graduation losses and a suspended QB played valiantly. Best stat: The Bulldogs allowed just 297 total yards.
Western Kentucky 46, Rice 14: Easiest 500-yard game a QB has ever had, but I’m not ripping Mike White here. Nicholas Norris and Taywan Taylor combined for 12 catches and 312 yards. they have another gear.

Worst 3
Louisville 70, Charlotte 14: The Cardinals and QB Lamar Jackson are darn good, but their 56-0 lead is a low for the fledgling 49ers program. Jackson accounted for 405 of the Cardinals’ 462 first-half total yards.
Florida Atlantic 38, Southern Illinois 30: I keep wanting to respect the Owls based on how much of a pain they have been to Marshall in three losses, but this result doesn’t get it.
The Owls didn’t ice this game until Ocie Rose forced a fumble and Aaron Stanton recovered with 1:40 left. Rose is the one who had a long “pick-six” return against MU last year.
Texas-San Antonio 26, Alabama State 13: Truthfully, the Roadrunners weren’t threatened after taking a 20-7 lead 3 minutes into the second half. Former walk-on quarterback Dalton Sturm went 20 of 25 for 274 yards and 2 TDs. Yes, he has edged out the ballyhooed Jared Johnson for the job.
But the Roadrunners had four turnovers in a game that just screams “yuck.”

Non-conference report
C-USA vs. G-5
Southern Methodist 34, North Texas 21
Texas-El Paso 38, New Mexico State 22
Overall: 1-1

C-USA best results vs. P-5
Southern Miss 44, Kentucky 35
Arkansas 21, Louisiana Tech 20 (Tech had ball with lead in 4th quarter)
Indiana 34, Florida International 13 (near-miss by loosest definition; FIU had ball in Indiana territory down by 7 in 4th quarter)
Overall: 1-3

This week’s offerings, in order of interest:
Middle Tennessee (1-0) at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m., SEC Network: If the Blue Raiders want to be considered favorites of C-USA’s East Division, they might want to win this game or come darned close. Last year, Vandy won 17-13 in Murfreesboro, scoring two touchdowns in the final 6:14.
MTSU laid the lumber on Alabama A&M last week, 55-0. Brent Stockstill went 30 of 36 for 329 yards and 5 TDs in the first half, as the Raiders led 45-0. He completed his first 22.
So can Stockstill and the Raiders compete against a real opponent? And does Nashville really care about them?
Odds: Vanderbilt by 5.5. Take the Blue Raiders and the points.

Old Dominion (1-0) at Appalachian State, 3:30 p.m., ASN: OK, Bobby Wilder, how good are your Monarchs? The first step to impressing the rest of us is to win in Boone, a year after the Mountaineers won 49-0 in Norfolk. Wilder apologized to his team after that debacle.
David Washington went 10 of 18 with 4 TDs vs. Hampton, but was admonished for not sliding on a scramble. The Monarchs need him to master that and a lot of other things.
Odds: Appalachian by 21. Yes, I saw the Mountaineers’ near-miss at Tennessee, but this looks like a lot. Take the Monarchs and the points.

Western Kentucky (1-0) at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2: There’s not much to say after the Crimson Tide beat up Southern California 52-6. I don’t have to tell you White won’t threw for 517 yards again.
Hilltopper negative vs. Rice: They averaged just 3.2 yards per rush. That could be 1.2 yards this week.
Odds: Alabama by 29. Roll Tide, roll.

Florida Atlantic at Miami, 6 p.m., ESPN3: Rematch of decent game last year in Boca Raton, in which the teams were tied 20-20 early in the third quarter before the Hurricanes scored the final 24. Last week, the Owls struggled against Southern Illinois, but Jason Driskel was 23 of 31 for 287 yards.
Trey Hendrickson watch: The defensive end had 5 tackles, 2 QB hurries, a sack and a blocked extra point. The defense allowed SIU 530 total yards on 86 snaps.
Odds: Miami by 24.5. Take the Hurricanes.

Maryland at Florida International, 7:30 p.m. Friday, CBS Sports: Terrapins join the parade of Power 5 suckers fishing for Miami-area recruits in one of America’s lamest venues.
FIU had trouble running against Indiana and the passing game had one brain cramp after another. One of Alex McGough’s three picks went for a touchdown, though that one was blamed on a wrong route.
Not sure how physical Maryland will be in Big Ten play, but the Terps will lay a few welts on the Panthers. Can the Panthers respond?
Odds: Maryland by 10.5. Terps will cover late.

UTSA at Colorado State, 6 p.m., Campus Insiders: Not sure what to think after Colorado State got ambushed by Colorado 44-7 last week in Denver. The Rams were outgained 578-225.
The Roadrunners held Alabama State to 102 total yards and freshman LB Joseph Tauaefa had 13 tackles and 2 sacks in his debut, but the price of poker goes up considerably.
Odds: CSU by 10. Looks like a gimme for the home team.

Rice at Army, noon, CBS Sports: The Black Knights rushed for 350 yards and dominated the second half in a 28-14 win over Temple. After getting run ragged by Western Kentucky, the Owls’ secondary will be somewhat pleased that the Knights threw only five times.
Tyler Stehling went 22 of 37 for 183 yards and ran for 85 more, but threw two interceptions. He was victimized by six drops, so expect better numbers.
Odds: Army by 10. On a hunch, I’ll go with the Owls and the points.

UTEP (1-0) at Texas, 7 p.m., Longhorn Network: I’ve seen this act before. The Longhorns have the usual talent advantage (ask Notre Dame), and the weather will compound matters. El Paso is in the desert with the dry heat; humidity in the other side of Texas is notorious.
Yes, it matters. It mattered in 2009, when the Miners lost to the Longhorns 64-7. And this time, Aaron Jones isn’t rushing for the 249 yards he did last week vs. New Mexico State.
Odds: Texas by 28.5. Take the Longhorns in what seems like a gimme.

FCS parade: Elon at Charlotte, Morgan State at Marshall, South Carolina State at Louisiana Tech, Bethune-Cookman at North Texas, Savannah State at Southern Miss.

Conference USA notebook, 8/30

Hello, Herd fans!
This fall, I am moving my Conference USA notebook to this blog. One thing I like about this, and I’m sure you will, too, is I can abandon a rigid story format, etc. I will inject opinion, observations and all sorts of goodies.
I will rank the games in order of interest, at least for my selfish purposes. I’ll give you the line and which way I would go with it (remember, amusement purposes only).
Away we go:
Rice at Western Kentucky, 8 p.m. Thursday, CBS Sports Network
This may provide some quick answers on (a) whether WKU’s Mike White is up to the challenge of filling Brandon Doughty’s shoes and (b) how much Rice has benefited from the experience of being one of the nation’s youngest teams in 2014.
The Owls have 16 returning starters on offense and defense. Fifth-year seniors Tyler Stehling has waited his turn to be the starting quarterback, and Darik Dillard and Jowan Davis enter the season with more than 1,700 career rushing yards.
(Has there been a Dillard playing for the Owls every year since 2005, or is it just me?)
Any inexperience White may have should be negated by an all-returning interior line, a loaded backfield and receiver Taywan Taylor. The Hilltoppers’ defense is a question mark that was answered last year, but has few starters back.
ODDS: Hilltoppers by 16. Take ‘em, lay the points.

Southern Mississippi at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU
Jay Hopson is the new coach in Hattiesburg, but he’s in his third stint there. Mark Stoops is in his fourth year at Kentucky, and his seat is simmering. (Why would UK fire a football coach? And why did I just put “UK” and “football” in the same sentence?)
Nick Mullens is starting his fourth year, which includes the last half of the 2013 season. He is rated the eighth QB prospect by NFLdraftscout.com, and has 8,605 passing yards and 61 touchdowns. Juicy subplot: New Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, a name West Virginia fans know, was fired by Stoops after last year.
The Golden Eagles are a bit undersized up front relative to UK’s offense, and may have trouble stopping the run in this game. The more they can get Drew Barker to throw it, the better chance they have.
ODDS: Kentucky by 6.5. Out of general disrespect of the Wildcats, take the visitors.

Louisiana Tech at Arkansas, 4 p.m., SEC Network
I just want to see if the Bulldogs score some style points with an inexperienced team. Coach Skip Holtz says his team has good depth, but this young team may need 4-6 weeks to get up to its usual snuff.
Ryan Higgins is Tech’s new starter, but his role is unclear after a DWI arrest earlier in August. Holtz has said Higgins won’t start the game, but hasn’t tipped his hand beyond that. Whoever throws has two nice targets in 5-foot-8 Trent Taylor (99 catches in 2015) and 6-foot-2 true freshman Adrian Hardy.
The Bulldogs are widely picked second in C-USA’s West Division for a reason, but may take some hard knocks in Fayetteville.
ODDS: Arkansas by 26. Take the favorites.

Charlotte at Louisville, 7 p.m. Thursday, ACC RSN Networks
The most interesting aspect is seeing two Marshall opponents face off. Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals are going to run the 49ers out of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, pure and simple.
The 49ers are one of the older teams, by design — as a fourth-year program, they have 26 seniors or so and a lot of fourth-year juniors. That alone puts them in position to pop somebody in the snout, but not the Cardinals.
ODDS: Louisville by 39.5. Take the favorites.

Indiana at Florida International, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, ESPNU
Are you kidding me? Are Power 5 teams that interested in Miami recruits that they’ll play in that stadium? Of course, calling Indiana a “Power 5 team” might be a stretch, though they did beat WKU last year.
Really, you’re not sure what you’re going to get from either team. The Hoosiers gained 504.3 total yards per game last season, but gave up 509.6. FIU has an offense with a third-year starter and weapons around him, but the production wasn’t that good a year ago (347.8). The Panthers’ defense hasn’t been anything special since they joined C-USA in 2013.
ODDS: Indiana by 8.5. Out of general disrespect, I’d take the favorites.

Southern Methodist at North Texas, 7 p.m. Saturday, ASN
Call this the Dumpster Fire Bowl, as both teams are trying to pull themselves out of the abyss. The Mustangs have the advantage of being in the second year of their reclamation project under Chad Morris; the Mean Green is taking its first steps under Seth Littrell.
Alabama transfer Alec Morris will start at QB for NT, which finished third in ESPN’s Bottom Ten behind Central Florida and Kansas. Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle says the Mean Green has about 68 scholarship players, so depth is a major headache.
And then there’s this: a case of the Zika virus has been reported in Denton. Long autumn ahead.
ODDS: SMU by 9.5. Go against NT until further notice.

New Mexico State at Texas-El Paso, 8 p.m. Saturday, beIN Sports
The Al Jazeera offshoot makes its debut in the desert for the I-10 rivalry. I am hearing the production is excellent, but their knowledge in the booth is a question mark. (No corner kicks, please.)
Just 42 miles apart, These schools are natural rivals because every other football-playing school is hell-and-gone from them. (Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez is close, but plays the other brand of football.)
Running back Aaron Jones is back after a second-game injury ended his season last year. He has 2,341 career yards, and epitomizes coach Sean Kugler’s approach to building the Miners. Fresno State transfer Zach Greenlee is the new starting QB, and the defense is favoring more zone coverage behind a 3-4 front.
ODDS: UTEP by 9.5. The Miners will win, but take the Aggies and the points.

The FCS parade: Southern Illinois at Florida Atlantic, Alabama A&M at Middle Tennessee, Hampton at Old Dominion, Alabama State at Texas-San Antonio.
Note about FAU: 24-game starting left tackle Reggie Bain is out for the season after a car accident last weekend. That will shuffle the line, moving the center to left tackle, the left guard to center with a new left guard.
It’s fortunate the Owls have this game to iron that out before heading down I-95 to Miami.

Items from Saturday’s scrimmage

Good afternoon, Herd fans!

Marshall held its second scrimmage today, a 1:15 or so affair on a hot, sunny day. Doc said the day was shortened by a lack of special teams drills more than anything. (All but field goals were addressed at length Friday.)

As most of you know, that scrimmage was closed. No stats tallied.

Perhaps the biggest thing that came out of it: Garet Morrell talked to the media for the first time. Coaches are stopping short of declaring him the No. 2 QB, but that seems to be a formality. He ran with the “twos” all day, with Xavier Gaines running the “threes.”

Morrell and receivers are picking up the timing on fade routes, but he has to work on his “happy feet.” As OC Bill Legg says, Morrell ran an offense much like the one Marshall runs, but the checks are much tougher at this level. Freshman stuff, much like Chase Litton went through a year ago.

Players are starting to get itchy to play, and they have an off week to start the season. Writers such as yours truly are already bouncing off the walls.

Morgan State on deck, Sept. 10.

 

Bazzie ruling the CFL?

Former MU defensive end Alex Bazzie of the British Columbia Lions has taken the sacks lead in the Canadian Football League with eight in nine games.

Believe it or not, that’s double his career sack total in a Marshall uniform. He had four in his last two seasons, 2012 and 2013.

Bazzie’s latest sack was critical, coming in British Columbia’s 29-23 win over the Ottawa Redblacks. With less than a minute left and the ball at the BC 38-yard line, he threw Trevor Harris for a 7-yard loss. That forced third-and-17 — remember, only three downs in the Great White North — and Harris threw incomplete to seal the issue. The Lions improved to 6-3.

As a sidenote, ex-Herd and Montana running back Travon Van plays for the Redblacks. He had 52 yards on 12 carries Thursday, and caught six passes for 28 yards. Ottawa is 4-4-1, leading the East Division.

On the Rakeem Cato watch, he is still backing up Travis Glenn at Montreal. He is 24 of 31 for 265 yards and a TD for the 3-5 Alouettes.