UCF (5-2) at Marshall (3-4)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joan C. Edwards Stadium (38,019) -- Huntington, West
Virginia. Television:CBSSN. Home Record: UCF 3-1, MU 1-2. Away Record: UCF
2-1, MU 2-2. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, MU 0-0. Conference Record: UCF 3-0, MU
2-1. Series Record: UCF leads, 7-3.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights put their perfect league record on the line when
they take on the Marshall Thundering Herd in a Conference USA East Division
matchup at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
UCF is the only remaining team in the East Division without a C-USA loss. The
Knights picked up their third win in row last week by taking down Memphis,
35-17. Their only losses on the season came courtesy of Ohio State (31-16) and
Missouri (21-16). UCF will become bowl eligible with its next win. Coach
George O'Leary had guided the program to a bowl game four times since taking
over in 2004.
Marshall came off its bye week and ended a two-game losing slide last week
with a 59-24 rout of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. The Thundering Herd are
just 1-2 at home this season after hard-fought losses to Ohio University and
Tulsa. Marshall's road setbacks were handed to it by West Virginia and Purdue.
Despite the 3-4 overall record, Marshall is just one game behind the Knights
in the East Division standings.
UCF and Marshall have played every season since 2002. The Knights have won the
last seven meetings to take a 7-3 lead in the all-time series. O'Leary has
never lost to Marshall as the Knights' head coach.
The Knights have been a stellar offensive team in recent weeks, averaging 37.7
ppg. in their last three outings. Blake Bortles has shown development in his
first year as a full-time starter, but was held to a season-low 122 yards on
15-of-26 passing at Memphis last week. Bortles has 14 touchdowns passes to
five interceptions through seven games. The sophomore has not thrown an
interception since Sept. 15.
UCF has a trio of effective wideouts in J.J. Worton, Rannell Hall, and Quincy
McDuffie. Worton leads the regime with 30 catches for 419 yards.
The Knights' rushing attack features two dangerous weapons in Latavius Murray
and Storm Johnson. UCF gained 229 yards on the ground against Memphis its last
time out. Murray picked up 192 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. is the
sixth leading rusher in the conference with 427 yards and four touchdowns on
92 carries. Johnson had his role reduced last week with Murray in the zone,
but still leads the team with 416 yards and 95 carries.
While O'Leary's offense is serviceable, his defense is even more impressive.
The Knights lead the C-USA in total defense and scoring defense with averages
of 352.9 allowed yards and 22 allowed points per contest. Ohio State is the
only team to score 30 or more points in regulation versus the Knights this
Senior A.J. Bouye recorded an interception and scored his second career
touchdown on a 79-yard fumble return in last week's win. Bouye's first-career
score was 42-yard interception return for six at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in
Marshall has been stampeding offensively this season. It is ranked fourth out
of 120 FBS teams in total offense (568.4 ypg) and second in passing offense
The Herd operate from a spread attack with its leader, Rakeem Cato under
center. Cato has already surpassed his freshman year totals by throwing for
2,651 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. The sophomore QB is completing 70.3
percent of his passes and has only thrown seven interceptions.
Although he was not even expected to be the best wideout on his own team,
Tommy Shuler is leading the C-USA in receiving yards per game (96.1) and is
second in the FBS with 9.9 receptions per contest. Shuler is not the only MU
wideout among the conference's receiving leaders. Aaron Dobson (546 yards, 47
rec.) is tied for fourth and Antavious Wilson (486, 38 rec.) is seventh.
While the trio of wideouts have the most yards through the air, tight end
Gator Hoskins has pulled in a team-best seven touchdown catches.
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. Grooms has
amassed a team-high 461 yards on 65 carries.
Defensively, Holliday's squad showed improvement against Southern Miss. The
Herd limited the Golden Eagles to 331 yards, which is the fewest by any
opponent this season.
Marshall needs to build on that success after showing the stopping ability of
a floor mat earlier in the season. It has the worst scoring defense in the
conference with an allowed average of 41.6 ppg. Dominick LeGrande is pacing
the defense with 78 total stops, which is the sixth most in the FBS.
The Thundering Herd would love nothing more than to hand UCF a loss as a
parting gift before the Knights exit Conference USA for the greener pastures
of the Big East. Marshall will need its defense to slow down the Murray and
Johnson tandem or force turnovers to end its losing streak to the Knights.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 34, UCF 31
10/24 10:31:38 ET