FACTS & STATS: Site: Joan C. Edwards (38,019) -- Huntington, West Virginia. Television: CBS Sports Network. Home Record: Tulsa 3-0, Marshall 1-1. Away Record: Tulsa 1-1, Marshall 1-2. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, Marshall 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 2-0, Marshall 1-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The scoreboard attendants should get plenty of work as the top two offenses in the Conference USA square off when the Tulsa Golden Hurricane enters Joan C. Edwards Stadium to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd.
The Golden Hurricane improved to 4-1 overall and stayed perfect in league action by outlasting UAB, 49-42, in a thriller at Legion Field last week. Tulsa gained 478 yards on offense and limited the Blazers to 337 yards as it won its fourth game in a row. Coach Bill Blankenship is 11-6 overall after taking over the program in 2011.
Although they are coming off a 51-41 loss to Purdue, the Thundering Herd are riding momentum into this one as they outscored the Boilermakers by 24 points in the second half of the non-conference battle. The defeat dropped coach Doc Holliday's squad to 2-3 overall, but it still remains 1-0 in league action. Marshall's other losses came to West Virginia and Ohio University, and its victories were over Western Carolina and Rice.
This will be just the fourth meeting in history between these programs. Tulsa has won all three previous meetings, including a 38-35 triumph in the 2008 season finale in the only Huntington meeting.
Tulsa has the top scoring offense in the C-USA (14th in the FBS) with an average of 42 points per contest. Last week, it displayed a complete attack by amassing 479 yards of total offense against UAB.
Cody Green struggled in week four against Fresno State, but he bounced back to complete 23-of-39 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns against UAB. Green has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of nine-to-six in his first season of action at Tulsa. He previously played at Nebraska where he went 4-0 as a starter.
Green has plenty of potential and time to develop with the strong three-headed rushing attack of Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts, and Alex Singleton shredding defenses. Last week, Singleton rushed for three touchdowns, including the game- winner, while Watts gained a team-best 93 yards. Douglas is the fifth- leading rusher in the C-USA with 374 yards.
Keyarris Garrett is a big bodied receiver used often in Tulsa's passing game. Garrett leads the team with 256 yards and four touchdowns on 20 catches. Jordan James is second on the squad with 235 yards.
Not only is Tulsa's offense arguably the best in the C-USA, its defensive unit is leading the league in total defense with an allowed average of only 338.0 yards per contest. The Golden Hurricane also lead the conference in sacks (5.2) and tackles for loss (10.6) per game.
Tulsa is successful defensively due to its experienced core. Dexter McCoil, DeAundre Brown, and Shawn Jackson all have recorded 200 career tackles, and Demarco Nelson comes into this one with 187 career stops.
Brown ranks in a third-place tie in the FBS with 7.2 solo tackles per game this season.
Marshall has been nearly impossible for any one to stop offensively this season. It is ranked sixth in the FBS in total offense (555.6 ypg) and third in passing offense (394.6 ypg).
The Herd have primarily used an air it out philosophy as Rakeem Cato continues to develop into one of the premier passers in the C-USA. Cato led Marshall as it attempted to rally back from its huge deficit last week, finishing with a career-high 439 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions on 45-of-68 passing.
Tommy Shuler grabbed a school-record 19 receptions for 200 yards and Gator Hoskins caught three passes in the end zone versus Purdue. Shuler is third in the FBS with an average of 10.2 catches per game. Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson are both frequent targets of Cato also.
MU employs a three-headed rushing attack made up of new faces. Steward Butler, Kevin Grooms, and Remi Watson have shared the ball carrying duties with effectiveness since Travon Van switched positions mid-season. Butler has amassed a team-high 268 yards on 45 carries.
Defensively, Holliday's squad has some work to do. In 2011, Marshall had a very aggressive pass rush with C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Vinny Curry spearheading the pursuit. This season, MU is ranked 110th in the FBS with an average of 0.8 sacks per contest.
The Herd have not been able to stop any of their opponents with great success, but their schedule has not been too friendly either.
Both of these squads were in a shootout last week, so they should be geared up for another on Saturday. Marshall needs to force Green to beat them through the air, while the Golden Hurricane are going to dare the Herd to run it. Whichever team does a better job at limiting turnovers will have a huge edge.