Marshall (4-5) at UAB (2-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Legion Field (71,594) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: CSS. Home Record: Marshall 2-3, UAB 1-3. Away Record: Marshall 2-2, UAB 1-4. Neutral Record: Marshall 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: Marshall 3-2, UAB 1-4. Series Record: Marshall leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season as they stampede Legion Field for a Conference USA bout with the UAB Blazers.
Marshall is coming off of a 38-28 victory over Memphis which leaves it two wins shy of bowl eligibility with three games left to play. Coach Doc Holliday's team was in a similar situation in 2011 and came through with three wins in its last four games to earn an invite to the Beef'O'Brady Bowl. Holliday, now in his third season as the program's head coach, owns a 16-18 career record.
UAB is also seeking its first winning streak of the season after taking down Southern Miss, 27-19, its last time out. The win was the first over an FBS opponent for the Blazers this season, as their only other victory came from a 52-3 rout of Southeastern Louisiana. UAB's win over Southern Miss was made possible by a second half comeback as the Blazers went into the intermission trailing 16-0. Coach Garrick McGee is nearing the end of his first season with the program.
This will be the eighth meeting in history on the football field between these programs. MU holds a 6-1 edge after picking up victories in the last three encounters. The Thundering Herd have outscored UAB, 117-38 over the past three years.
Marshall has one of the most explosive offenses in the FBS this season, ranking sixth in total offense (530.7 ypg) and 13th in scoring offense (39.7 ppg). The Herd were able to pick up 433 yards of total offense in last week's win over Memphis.
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 3,290 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. The sophomore QB is completing 69.1 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 second the C-USA in receiving yards per game (90.6) and is third in the FBS with 9.1 receptions per contest. The sophomore wideout is nine catches away from tying the school's FBS record for receptions in a single season which was set by Darius Watts in 1991. Shuler is not the only MU wideout among the conference's receiving leaders. Aaron Dobson (618 yards, 53 rec.) is eighth and Antavious Wilson (602, 52 rec.) is ninth.
While the trio of wideouts have the most yards through the air, tight end Gator Hoskins has pulled in a team-best nine touchdown catches.
MU employs a three-headed rushing attack. Steward Butler, Kevin Grooms, and Remi Watson have shared the ball carrying duties. Grooms has amassed a team- high 502 yards on 82 carries. He and Watson both have six rushing TDs to their credit this season.
Defensively, Holliday's squad looked like it was heading in the right direction after it held Tulsa to 340 yards and Southern Miss to 329 in back- to-back games. The Herd took a step backwards against UCF, which was able to rack up 568 yards and six offensive TDs. MU then allowed a Memphis offensive unit to gain 372 yards last week.
Marshall has the fourth worst scoring defense in the FBS with an allowed average of 41.4 ppg. Dominick LeGrande is pacing the defense with 94 total stops, which is the 11th most in the FBS.
UAB is rising to the top of the C-USA leaderboard offensively. The Blazers now rank fourth in total offense in the conference with an improved average of 423.4 yards per game. They also rank seventh in scoring offense (29.8 ppg). UAB was able to generate 435 yards versus Southern Miss their last time out. The offense is starting to gel despite weakness on the offensive line. UAB is allowing 3.4 sacks per contest, which is the worst in the C-USA and ranks 115th out of 120 FBS programs.
Freshman Austin Brown seems to be the quarterback of the future in Birmingham. The rookie completed 17-of-29 attempts for 228 yards with one TD and pick against the Golden Eagles last week. Brown has thrown 12 touchdowns to seven interceptions, while completing 57.9 percent of his passes for 2,086 yards.
Brown has a pair of reliable targets in Nick Adams and Jackie Williams. Adams has been on fire ever since Brown took over the starting QB duties and has 34 catches for 535 yards and one score on the season. Williams has made a reception in all 32 games he has played for UAB. The junior wideout has reeled in 39 passes for a team-leading total of 674 yards.
Darrin Reaves has been the squad's best option in terms of running the ball. He has set career-highs in rushing yards in each of his past two games. Reaves charged the win over USM by gaining 228 yards and scoring a touchdown on the ground. The sophomore tailback has tallied 744 yards and 11 TDs this season.
The UAB defense has been lit up for 461.1 yards per game this season which ranks ninth in the defensively weak C-USA and 106th in the FBS. The Blazers' defensive unit is coming off of its best outing of the season, as it held USM to 295 total yards and 19 points, both season lows in FBS games this season.
UAB does have one of the most active defenders in the nation on its roster in Marvin Burdette, who has racked up an FBS second best 115 total tackles this season. Burdette also has a team-high nine tackles for loss and is tied for the team-lead with two sacks. In the secondary, Lamarcus Farmer has been effective with seven pass breakup and Lamar Johnson has two interceptions.
Marshall's offense should have no problem slicing up the Blazers' weak defense. Burdette will be busy chasing down MU's speedy receiving corps. Cato, who is already sixth on the program's all-time completions list, will continue his stellar season and take the Herd one step closer to the bowl season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 42, UAB 28
11/07 10:42:40 ET