Florida Atlantic at Marshall Odds
|Florida Atlantic Odds||+17 [BET NOW]|
|Marshall Odds||-17 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+600/-1000 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET|
Underdogs have impressed early this season, knocking off ranked opponents on the road in three of the last four weeks. Some of those upsets came out of the blue, like Kentucky’s destruction of Tennessee on Saturday. Others had a few prior indicators, like Texas’ defensive issues ahead of its loss to TCU, or LSU’s roster turnover before its loss to Mississippi State in Death Valley.
This week, Florida Atlantic is looking to get in on the giant-slaying fun by upsetting the Thundering Herd in Huntington. Unfortunately for the Owls, Marshall isn’t leaking oil the same way that a handful of ranked teams have before their surprising losses. In fact, Marshall may be, top to bottom, one of the soundest football teams in America. Doc Holliday is fielding his best defense, statistically, since taking over at Marshall back in 2010. The Herd are third in scoring defense and third-ranked against the run, all while limiting big plays.
With the running lanes shut down and access to chunk plays limited, FAU will struggle to keep pace with Marshall on its homecoming weekend.
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Marshall Thundering Herd
Balance, balance, balance is what makes this Marshall team so formidable.
The defense has put the clamps on every team it’s played, including a nationally-ranked Appalachian State team that mustered just seven points.
Offensively, the Thundering Herd avoid negative plays about as well as any team in the country. They’ve surrendered a sack, tackle for loss, forced fumble, interception or a defended pass on just 4.88% of their offensive snaps to rank second nationally. That has kept their offense on schedule and kept defenses on their toes. And it explains why they’re converting their third-down opportunities at a 57.78% clip (fifth).
According to ESPN’s Raw Total Quarterback metric, Marshall’s Grant Wells is the ninth-rated passer in the nation. He’s completing 66% of his passes and averaging over nine yards per attempt. Marshall hasn’t flirted with passing productivity like this since Rakeem Cato exhausted his eligibility back in 2014.
Pairing Wells with Brenden Knox has been a lethal combination. The junior running back has more room to run with defenses now having to respect the Marshall aerial attack. As a result, he’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground in three of Marshall’s four games and has punched in seven touchdowns.
Florida Atlantic’s run defense was stout against Charlotte in its long-awaited opener, but that was due more to Charlotte’s offensive preference than to a big jump in play. Knox torched FAU’s run defense last season, with a 23/220/2 stat line. I expect another big game from the Herd’s bellcow.
Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic surrendered 36 points to Marshall last year, and it’s clear that the Marshall offense has taken a major step forward with Wells at the helm. That means FAU will likely need to score in the 30s to keep pace. Given their current scheme and personnel fit, I find it hard to believe the Owls can score more than 24 points against a bend-don’t-break Marshall unit.
Junior quarterback Nick Tronti will make his second career start after game-managing the Owls to a 21-17 victory last week. Tronti was just 11-for-22 through the air, completing only two passes beyond 15 yards.
The real threat he poses is on the ground. Tronti racked up 94 yards, and his 49-yard touchdown run swung the game in FAU’s favor. Before that big run, the Owls were being shut out by Charlotte.
Marshall faced Western Kentucky two weeks ago and bottled up a Hilltopper offense that features a lot of designed quarterback runs. Despite 14 rushing attempts from their two quarterbacks, the Hilltoppers finished with just 85 yards on the ground. Tronti is on par with WKU’s QB duo, which is a bad sign for Owl bettors.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
I liked Marshall when it opened as a 14-point favorite, but that spread has bubbled up to -17. With the value on the spread drying up, I’m returning to one of my favorite gambling tactics, which is the double result. Instead of swallowing Marshall -950 on the moneyline, I’ll be playing the Herd to lead at halftime and win the game at a much more reasonable -260.
Take the Herd to treat the homecoming crowd to a wire-to-wire win.
Pick: Double Result Marshall 1st Half + Marshall Full Game (-260)