(13) Virginia Tech (3-0) at Marshall (1-2)
Saturday, September 24th, 3:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Roman Stubbs, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 13th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies will march into Huntington this weekend to build on a growing rivalry with the Marshall Thundering Herd, who are looking for redemption after last week's 44-7 loss to Ohio.
Virginia Tech is conducting business as usual in its non-conference schedule, and doled out another beat down last weekend in a 26-7 win over Arkansas State. This weekend's road affair at Marshall will conclude the non-league slate for the Hokies, who will host Clemson in an ACC showdown to open the conference season on October 1st.
"I think we're a team that we just have to keep learning from games and keep getting better," said head coach Frank Beamer. "I think we have the foundation of a good team, but we're certainly not there yet."
It's hard to put a finger on the collapse Marshall endured last week against the Bobcats, who dominated on both sides of the ball in the rout. Its been an interesting three game stretch to open the season for the Thundering Herd. Marshall had a weather shortened game against West Virginia that resulted in a loss in the opener, and the team came back the following week with a promising comeback win against C-USA heavyweight Southern Miss. However, its youth showed against Ohio, and now it must collect itself against one of the nation's best programs this weekend at home.
Virginia Tech leads the all-time series 8-2, and has won the last six meetings with Marshall.
Virginia Tech has 109 points through three wins, and has been a force running the football as usual. The Hokies have 632 yards rushing to date, with running back David Wilson averaging 128.7 yards per game (averaging 6.2 yards per carry).
Quarterback Logan Thomas has started his first three games of his career, and has completed 38-of-72 passes for 532 yards, four touchdowns and three picks.
"I think anytime you have a quarterback who hasn't played very much, you're going to go through growing pains," said Beamer of Thomas. "He's very much in control I like how he handles himself. He isn't going to get rattled."
Virginia Tech has showcased some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball as well, as five different players already have interceptions for the Hokies this season, and Virginia Tech has intercepted a pass in 10 straight games.
The defense is surrendering just 224.7 yards of total offense, with the most prominent stat being its performance against the run: 55.3 yards allowed per game.
"We want to get back to that dominant defense," said All-American cornerback Jayron Hosley, who had two interceptions against Arkansas State. "The first half, we've always been kind of shaky to start. This year we planned on coming out hard, fighting hard, running the game the whole four quarters."
Marshall has been outscored 32.7-15.3 in the first three contests, and is averaging just 298,7 yards of total offense yards per game. Freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato has shown flashes in completing 51-of-84 yards for 506 yards, but he has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (4), with four of those picks coming last weekend against Ohio. Tron Martinez has been one the most reliable Marshall skill player on offense, rushing for 217 yards on 36 attempts. Aaron Dobson leads all receivers with 15 catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns.
The Thundering Herd were shredded for 559 yards of total offense against Ohio, which isn't a good precursor heading into its matchup with the powerful Hokies. Marshall played well against Austin Davis and the Southern Miss offense two weeks ago, but it has allowed 411 yards of total offense through three games. That includes modest total of 109 yards per game on the ground (3.6 yards per rush). The silver lining is that Marshall has been able to create takeaways (8) in its three games, and its is an aggressive unit that has gotten penetration. The Thundering Herd have 26 tackles for minus 104 yards so far this season.
Virginia Tech didn't exactly blow the doors off Arkansas State, but it has been consistent controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Both teams have young quarterbacks that are continuing to find their respective paths, but Virginia Tech simply has so much more. One team is trying to navigate the path to a national championship, the other is trying to pick up the pieces after being beat by 37 against Ohio.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 45, Marshall 10
09/21 10:44:51 ET