For the second straight week, Marshall will be on the road Saturday night at the Charlotte 49ers to open up C-USA play. The Herd will be looking for a 1-0 start in C-USA play while Charlotte will be looking to break even in C-USA play.
Marshall comes into this contest with a wave of momentum after a big 38-21 road victory at the Cincinnati Bearcats of the AAC on Sept. 30 to close out non-conference play at 3-1 overall. This is the Herd’s first 3-1 start to a season since 2015.
Charlotte has had a much harder go of things so far this season and sits at 0-5 overall including a heartbreaking 30-29 road loss at Florida International on Sept. 30 in a game where the 49ers had a 26-7 lead late in the second quarter.
The all-time series between these teams dates back to just 2015 and each team has a win so far. Marshall knocked off Charlotte 34-10 on the road in 2015 while the 49ers returned the favor at Marshall in 2016 with a 27-24 upset win.
Charlotte is still a baby in C-USA only having been in the league since 2015 and still has a lot of building to do, but it has been a struggle up to this point of the season. These teams come into this game heading into completely different directions and the Herd is heavily favored against the 49ers.
The current spread sees Marshall as a 15.5-point favorite and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Herd an 87.4 percent chance of defeating Charlotte.
A key matchup to look for in this game will be the 49ers’ passing offense against the Herd’s passing defense. Charlotte has struggled to throw the ball this season, averaging only 135.2 passing yards-per-game and starting quarterback Hassan Klugh is a solid dual-threat quarterback, but has thrown for only 651 yards in five games while also throwing seven interceptions compared to just five touchdowns.
If the 49ers continue to struggle to pass the ball, it will play directly into the hands of the Herd’s defense. Becoming one-dimensional would be a bad omen against a confident Marshall defense.
The Herd is undoubtedly the better team in this one, but it will have to show up and play hard from start to finish if it wants a win. Marshall was upset by Charlotte at home last season, so it knows what the 49ers can do if you don’t play them well.
That revenge factor could also play a role in this game with the Herd looking to avenge an embarrassing home loss to Charlotte in 2016. And for the second straight road game, Marshall will have a big cheering section of its own in the stands, which certainly helped against Cincinnati.
If Marshall comes in focused and plays the way it has been playing, this should be an easy win for the boys in kelly green. The Herd and Charlotte kick off Saturday night at 6 p.m. from McColl-Richardson Field in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the game will be aired on CUSA.TV as well as locally in the Huntington area.