C-USA East Division supremacy will be at stake Friday night when the Marshall Thundering Herd heads out on the road to battle the red-hot Florida Atlantic Owls.
Marshall’s five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Oct. 28 in a 41-30 home loss to the Florida International Panthers and the Herd now sits at 6-2 overall and 3-1 in C-USA play as it prepares for a key game with C-USA Championship implications.
FAU is the hottest team in C-USA having won four games in a row, all by 14 points or more and scoring at least 38 points in each game. The Owls are the lone unbeaten in C-USA play at 4-0 and sit at 5-3 overall on the season under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin.
The Herd has yet to lose to the Owls since FAU joined C-USA in 2013, but the Owls have made things difficult for Marshall over the years even in defeat, including a 27-21 loss at Marshall in 2016.
The history between these teams favors the Herd, but the present-day odds favor FAU. The Owls are currently 7.5-point favorites and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives FAU a 65.3 percent chance of getting its first-ever win against Marshall.
A key matchup to look for in this game will be how the Herd’s defense performs against an electric running game of FAU. The Owls are averaging 296 rushing yards-per-game on the season and leading RB Devin Singletary has been a superstar this season, already having rushed for 1,053 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns through the Owls’ first eight games.
Marshall’s typically stout defense was gashed against FIU last week by the tune of 224 rushing yards, and squaring off with one of the nation’s top rushing attacks this week won’t make a rebound performance any easier for the Herd’s prevent unit.
But if the Herd can limit the Owls’ rushing attack, it will force FAU quarterback Jason Driskel to beat Marshall through the air where he has only thrown 145 pass attempts on the season and just four passing touchdowns.
This is the biggest game of the season for Marshall up to this point and the Herd will have to rebound from a disappointing loss to FIU last week quickly. The Herd will be squaring off with a team that has quickly established itself as arguably the best team in C-USA.
If Marshall hopes to win the C-USA East Division and play in the C-USA Championship game, it will likely have to defeat FAU Friday night on the road. A loss would put the Herd at 3-2 in C-USA play with only three games remaining and the Owls would improve to 5-0 in C-USA play, so to say Marshall would be in trouble of winning the East would be an understatement.
The Herd will have to play its best game of the season in order to defeat these Owls that are playing with a ton of confidence. This game will tell the whole story of how legitimate this Marshall team is.
The Herd and FAU kickoff Friday at 6 p.m. from FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.