Why Buffalo Will Win
– The Marshall offense has gone bye-bye. It’s been just fine against the mediocre teams – it blew up just fine against UMass and Middle Tennessee – but it stopped against Rice and never got going in the Conference USA Championship loss to UAB. The Thundering Herd O hasn’t hit 270 yards in either of the last two games, and …
– The Buffalo D can at least get into the backfield. It’s not a rock, but it’s good enough on third downs to get off the field, and it has enough of pass rush to be a bother. The offensive side doesn’t turn the ball over on a regular basis, and this is the game for the defense to come up with a slew of big takeaways. Marshall turned it over five times against Rice, and has given it up multiple times in three of the last six games.
– The Buffalo offensive line is terrific. The running game stalled against Ball State, but it still leads the nation averaging 310 yards per game helped by an offensive front that doesn’t allow a thing behind the line. UB leads the nation in fewest sacks allowed – partly because it doesn’t throw a lot – and it also leads the way in fewest tackles for loss allowed.
Why Marshall Will Win
– The run defense has to take over. The Appalachian State running game that set records in the Myrtle Beach Bowl against North Texas was held to 96 yards. No one was able to get to 100 yards on the ground until Rice did it, and it only came up with 127 yards. Even after the last two games, the Herd still lead the nation in scoring defense and are third in total D.
– The offense really is better than it showed over the last two weeks. It hit a bit of a wall against Rice and UAB, but the passing game has the weapons to do a whole lot more, and the offensive line is great against decent pass rushes. Buffalo can throw a little bit, but if it has to, it’s getting away from what works.
– The Bull secondary isn’t all that great. It didn’t face a whole lot of high-octane passing games, but it still gave up over 200 yards through the air in four of the six games. Marshall freshman Grant Wells had a rough run over the last two games – completing just 26-of-58 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns with five picks – but when he’s on, the offense can do just enough to do enough to let the defensive side take care of the rest.