Expect points galore when Marshall hosts FAU

By Jeff Frank
Sports Analyst, Inside the Numbers

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    Jeff Frank

    Let's Be Frank

    Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Marshall's offense started slowly last Saturday, scoring just 14 points in the first half at Florida International. However, come the final whistle, the Thundering Herd had topped 40 points for the sixth consecutive time.

    The Herd wound up with 45 total points in the 45-13 stomping of the Golden Panthers. It was their sixth win in a row this season and the fifth straight cover. Moreover, they have been favored by 23.5 points or less in every game during the ATS winning streak.

    This week, Marshall is favored by 28 points versus Florida Atlantic. The two teams met for the first time in 2013 and the Herd escaped FAU Stadium with a one-point victory (24-23) on a last-second 41-yard field goal.

    This year marks a turning point for both squads. In 2013, Marshall averaged just 34.5 points per game against FBS competition heading into that game. This season, the Herd are averaging 47 points per game - good for second-best in the country.

    Florida Atlantic had allowed an average of 26 points per game prior to squaring off against Marshall last season. In fact, the Owls wound up 26th nationally in scoring defense in 2013. This season has been quite the opposite. They are ranked 109th nationally in that category, allowing 36 points per game.

    I would be shocked if Marshall scores fewer than 50 points in this matchup, especially because the Herd racked up 45 against the Golden Panthers, who scored 38 points against FAU earlier this month.

    The key question in this contest is how many points Florida Atlantic will put on the board. The answer is just enough for the game to go over the total. Outside the first two contests against Alabama and Nebraska (when quarterback Jaquez Johnson played just over one quarter combined), the Owls are averaging 33 points per game.

    Don't expect them to score in the 30s against Marshall's defense, but even if they reach the 20s, it will still be good enough to get this game over the number.

    Take over 68.5 in the first of three three-star plays.

    In the second contest, Oregon travels to California to take on the Golden Bears.

    The Ducks have gotten their act together the last two weeks, blowing out Washington by 25 last Saturday and winning by 12 at UCLA the week before. It was the first time since early October of last year they won and covered back- to-back games.

    If the Ducks can score in the 40s against the Huskies and Bruins, one can only imagine how many points they'll score versus California.

    Last year, Mark Helfrich's crew hit the 55-point mark against Cal, winning 55-16. Two years ago, at Berkeley, Oregon beat the Golden Bears, 59-17.

    This year's game is being played in Santa Clara, which actually is much closer to Stanford than it is to Berkeley. In fact, Santa Clara is about an hour away from Cal's campus, and that will take away a large proportion of the home-field advantage.

    The Golden Bears were geared up to play UCLA last week - an extremely winnable game as they have won the prior seven home meetings. Unfortunately, they will not be as primed for this matchup against a much tougher opponent.

    Take Oregon minus 18 points.

    The final three-star choice comes from the Atlantic Coast Conference, where Pittsburgh hosts Georgia Tech. The Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 21-16 win over Virginia Tech last Thursday. They have had some extra days to prepare for the Georgia Tech option offense, one without injured running back Zach Laskey.

    The Yellow Jackets won their first five games, but have lost two in a row, allowing a combined 79 points in those two contests. They are giving up close to 190 rushing yards per game on over five yards per carry. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is 18th nationally against the run, allowing 112 yards per game.

    The Panthers' rushing attack and run defense will be the difference in the double-digit victory over Georgia Tech.

    Take Pittsburgh minus three points.

    1) Ole Miss, 104.5
    2) Alabama, 102.5
    T-3) Georgia, 101.5
    T-3) Ohio State, 101.5
    T-5) Florida State, 100
    T-5) Oregon, 100
    T-5) Michigan State, 100
    T-5) Auburn, 100
    T-9) Mississippi State, 99
    T-9) TCU, 99.5
    11) Baylor, 97
    T-12) LSU, 96
    T-12) Nebraska, 96

    (The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)

    Take Michigan State -17 (Michigan) and Nevada -2.5 (Hawaii).


    Take Maryland +11 (Wisconsin), North Carolina +7 (Virginia), Kent State +7 (Miami-Ohio), UNLV +17 (Utah State) and Temple +7 (UCF).


    My overall record stands at 65-58-3 after a 5-10-1 mark in Week 8. The five- star selections went 1-2, so they move to 5-5. The three-star plays went 1-1 and are 10-5 overall. The two-star choices went 2-3 for an eight-week total of 23-25. The one-star plays went 1-4-1 for a 27-23-3 mark.

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