Marshall (1-2) at Rice (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice Stadium (47,000) -- Houston, Texas.
Television: CSS. Home Record: Marshall 1-1, Rice 1-1. Away Record: Marshall
0-1, Rice 0-1. Neutral Record: Marshall 0-0, Rice 0-0. Conference Record:
Marshall 0-0, Rice 0-0. Series Record: Marshall leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd look to pick up their first road win
of the season when they head to Houston, Texas to open up their Conference USA
season against the Rice Owls.
Marshall will also be looking for its first-ever win in the state of Texas.
The Thundering Herd are 0-8 all-time in the Lone Star State. Despite having a
1-2 record this season, Marshall has one of its strongest teams in recent
history. Coach Doc Holliday's squad came up just short against its former MAC
rival, Ohio University, as it turned the ball over in the final minute before
losing, 27-24. MU opened up its season with a 69-34 loss to West Virginia and
52-24 victory over Western Carolina.
Following their dramatic last-second win over Kansas, the Owls (1-2) failed to
repeat their non-conference success as they were beaten, 56-37, by the
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Coach David Bailiff's team came out flat against
LaTech but still managed to produce a season-high 37 points. Rice began its
season with a 49-24 loss to the UCLA Bruins. Bailiff's record with the Owls
dropped to 24-40 with last week's loss.
The Thundering Herd hold a slim, 2-1 advantage in the all-time series.
Marshall won both matchups in Huntington, but lost the 2008 bout in Houston.
The Herd lead the FBS in passing offense (425.0 ypg) and rank 10th in total
offense (550.3 ypg) thanks largely to the stellar performance of their
sophomore signal-caller. Rakeem Cato is leading the nation in total offense
with 422.7 yards per game. Cato was benched last season in the middle of his
freshman campaign, but he returned late in the season and led the team to a
win over FIU in the Beef'O'Brady Bowl.
Through three games, Cato has already passed for 1,222 yards and eight
touchdowns with just two interceptions.
Five different MU wideouts have already eclipsed the century mark on the
season. NFL prospect Aaron Dobson is leading the team with 247 yards and two
touchdowns on 24 catches. Senior Antavious Wilson is a solid number two option
with 197 yards on 15 catches.
Heading into its bout with Ohio, there was concern whether or not Marshall's
defense could contain the Bobcats. Ohio went into the contest averaging 541.5
yards and 37.5 points per game, but Marshall held them to 399 yards and 27
Dominick LeGrande is leading the team with 34 total tackles, but there still
is a glaring need for one of the linemen to step up and apply consistent
pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Rice could be the perfect team for a Marshall pass rusher to have a breakout
performance against. The Owls are allowing 3.7 sacks per game. They have
managed to score 28.7 points and gain 412.7 yards per contest. The Owls had a
season-best 477 yards of total offense last week.
The Owls' rely heavily on their dual-threat QB Taylor McHargue. The junior
finished last week with 205 passing yards, 93 rushing yards, and five total
touchdowns in the losing effort. McHargue is fourth in the C-USA in total
offense with 273 total yards per game.
McHargue is the second leading rusher on the team only trailing Charles Ross.
After rushing for just two yards on two carries in the season opener, the
Owls' junior running back has emerged and averaged 105 rushing yards and
scored twice since.
Although Sam McGuffie was expected to be the star of the offense, he has been
overshadowed by Jordan Taylor (205 yards, 15 catches) and Vance McDonald (133
yards, 10 catches) so far. However, McGuffie built a reputation as a freshman
at Michigan as a constant home run threat which should at least keep MU's
defenders aware of his whereabouts throughout the contest.
The Owls have one of the poorest defenses in the FBS with allowed averages of
531.3 yards and 43 points per contest. The good news for Rice is that it has
been better at stopping the pass than the run so far, but that could quickly
change against Cato.
Bryce Callahan is tied for the conference lead with two interceptions.
Marshall's offense is quickly becoming the best in the C-USA due to Holliday's
exceptional recruiting eye. Cato is already the best quarterback the program
has seen since Byron Leftwich was leading the charge. The Owls will need a big
performance out of McHargue to keep the Thundering Herd winless in Texas.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 42, Rice 34
09/19 10:40:34 ET
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