2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - So. Miss at Marshall
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Sept. 10 at Marshall 26 … Southern Miss 20
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Rakeem Cato threw three touchdown passes to rally Marshall in a 26-20 win over Southern Mississippi on Saturday in the Conference USA opener for both teams.
The Thundering Herd (1-1) trailed 17-3 with 5:30 left in the second quarter before Cato orchestrated three straight touchdown drives. His third straight score, a 17-yard pass to Aaron Dobson, gave Marshall a 24-17 lead with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Cato finished with 275 yards and two interceptions on 27-of-42 passing.
Southern Miss (1-1) made it 26-20 on Danny Hrapmann's 28-yard field goal with 1:22 remaining and was driving for another possible score, but Austin Davis threw his third interception with 1 minute left.
Davis finished with 309 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-49 passing and broke Brett Favre's career passing mark. Davis, who needed 74 yards coming in, broke the record of 7,695 set from 1987-1990.
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Southern Miss (1-0) at Marshall (0-1) Sept. 10, 3:30, CSS
Here's The Deal … A very early lead in the Conference USA East race will be at stake when Marshall hosts Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles are actually considered one of the favorites in the division, sporting an experienced roster that's itching to raise the bar and win a league crown for the first time in almost a decade. They survived stormy weather and the challenge of Louisiana Tech to escape with a hard-fought 19-17 victory.
The Thundering Herd took its annual lumps from rival West Virginia in Sunday's Friends of Coal Bowl, 34-13, and will have one less day to prepare for this week's game. Marshall struggled in all facets except special teams, placing even more importance on the home opener. With non-conference games still left against Virginia Tech and Louisville, the Herd can ill-afford an 0-2 start if it hopes to go bowling.
Why Southern Miss Might Win: The Eagles' problems on offense a week ago had more to do with Tropical Storm Lee than its own deficiencies. Weather permitting, the attack should start to percolate the way it did last season. Austin Davis is one of the league's top quarterbacks and a threat to a young Marshall secondary. In Desmond Johnson and Kendrick Hardy, the senior also boasts a terrific tandem of backs in his rear view mirror. If Southern Miss can ignite the offense, as expected, the Herd doesn't have enough weapons to keep pace, especially with rookie QB Rakeem Cato taking snaps and learning on the go.
Why Marshall Might Win: Besides a downpour and stiff wind, the best way to stop the Southern Miss offense is to exploit its rebuilt offensive line. The Herd has the linemen to do just that. Vinny Curry, in particular, is a game-changer who can collapse the pocket and disrupt the other team's quarterback. If double-teamed, it'll open things up for cat-quick teammates, like Trevor Black and James Rouse. Head coach Doc Holliday has done a nice job of attracting speed to Huntington, and cobbling together a front seven with the ability to control the line of scrimmage.
What To Watch Out For: Although the Golden Eagles did a very nice job on defense last Saturday, they still need to prove that the conditions weren't the primary factor. Led by DE Cordarro Law and linebackers Korey Williams and Ronnie Thornton, Southern Miss racked up a dozen stops for loss against Louisiana Tech. The front seven is rarely an issue, but the defensive backfield still has plenty to prove. The good news for the visitors is that Cato is raw, unproven and unlikely to capitalize on his surroundings.
What Will Happen: Southern Miss is just plain better than Marshall. Better on offense, better on defense and better constructed to pull away this weekend. The Golden Eagles will flex their offensive muscles for the first time in 2011, frustrating the Herd with a mix of Davis' orchestration and the running of Hardy and Johnson. With a long way still left to go under Holliday, Marshall will struggle to outscore quality opponents, such as the one visiting Huntington this weekend.
CFN Prediction: Southern Miss 31 … Marshall 21
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Southern Miss -8 O/U: 53
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