The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-2, 1-0) will travel to face the Marshall Thundering Herd (4-1, 1-0) in Conference USA action Friday night. Marshall has won the last four meetings between the schools; that includes a 63-17 rout on November 18, 2014 as a 27 point favorite in the most recent meeting.
Southern Miss bombed North Texas 49-14 at home last week in their conference opener. Marshall won their third straight as they downed Old Dominion 27-7. This game is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 pm ET from Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Marshall is currently a 5 point favorite in this contest.
Southern Miss jumped out to a 21-0 halftime edge and kept North Texas off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter as they cruised to a win. The Golden Eagles outgained the Mean Green 573-386 in the game though North Texas won the first down battle 26-24. Southern Miss forced the lone turnover in the game and went 6 of 11 on third down to keep drives alive. The Golden Eagles ran the ball 33 times for 248 yards in the contest while limiting the Mean Green to 3.8 yards per rush in the game.
The Golden Eagles currently are 14th in the nation in passing with an average of 338.2 yards per game; they are 60th in rushing with an average of 176 yards per game. Southern Miss averages 40 points per game; they are allowing 28 points per contest. Nick Mullens has hit 66 percent of his passes for 1,691 yards with 14 touchdowns and three picks while averaging nine yards per pass attempt. The Golden Eagles have a solid 1-2 punch on the ground with Jalen Richard (66 carries, 365 yards, 5 TD) and Ito Smith (45 carries, 365 yards, 3 TD) help move the sticks on the ground. Casey Martin is the team’s leading receiver with 29 grabs for 339 yards and five scores; Michael Thomas (18 receptions, 336 yards, 3 TD) and Smith has been a solid receiver out of the backfield with 18 grabs for 266 yards and a score. Southern Miss has had two kickers this season; they’ve combined for 27 of 27 on extra points and four of eight on field goals.
Marshall rode their defense to the win over the Monarchs; they only outgained Old Dominion 324-285 in the game. The Thundering Herd did force four turnovers in the game; one set the Thundering Herd up on the Old Dominion 10 and three others thwarted potential drives for the Monarchs. Chase Litton did his job as a freshman quarterback as he played within the system and kept Marshall in the game; he tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the victory.
The Thundering Herd average 196.4 yards per game through the air and 154.8 yards per game on the ground. Marshall averages 31 points per game while ranking tied for 31st in scoring defense by giving up 19 points per game. Litton (59 of 102, 633 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT) has supplanted James Madison transfer Michael Birdsong (39 of 69, 340 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) at quarterback; it remains to be seen if he’ll be the starter long term or not. Devon Johnson (59 carries, 390 yards, 3 TD) and Tony Pittman (61 carries, 288 yards, 3 TD) have done a decent job on the ground this season for the Thundering Herd. Ryan Yurachek leads the team with 20 grabs for 202 yards plus three scores; Davonte Allen (16 receptions, 142 yards, 2 TD) and Deon-Tay McManus (14 grabs, 141 yards, TD) are capable secondary targets. Nick Smith has hit all 19 extra points and six field goal attempts on the season.
Marshall is 15-2-1 ATS in their last 18 at home against teams with a winning road record, 4-1 ATS in their last five in October, 4-1 ATS in their last five on Friday and 12-4 ATS in their last 16 at home. Southern Miss is 7-16 ATS in their last 23 conference games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 against teams with a winning record.
The Thundering Herd hasn’t been as explosive as they were with Rakeem Cato at quarterback but they’ve found ways to win with Litton running the show. He’ll only get better as he gets experience. Southern Miss is playing much better than they have in recent seasons but it might be too much to ask for to win on the road in prime time at Marshall; look for the Thundering Herd to win by seven to ten points.