Week 5 – Marshall at Purdue

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Marshall at Purdue

Marshall (2-2) at Purdue (2-1) Sept. 29, 3:30, Big Ten Network

Here's The Deal: Marshall and Purdue meet for the first time, a final non-conference tune-up for both before league play gets cranking. The Boilermakers are somewhat lurking in the weeds as September comes to a close, the rare Big Ten team that's enjoying some love these days. They've handled business against two inferior opponents, and darn upset unbeaten Notre Dame in South Bend two weeks ago to earn a smattering of rare support from pollsters. Considering the state of the Leaders Division, and the problems at Wisconsin, might this be Purdue's best shot for years to come to contend for a spot in the Rose Bowl? The Thundering Herd has participated in exciting games each of the last two weekends, dropping a three-pointer to Ohio before beating Rice in overtime, 54-51, last Saturday. Marshall wants to be battle-tested for the continuation of Conference USA play, because like this week's opponent, the Herd resides in a division that's there for the taking in 2012.

Why Marshall Might Win: The Herd will go as far as the offense will take it this season. That could be pretty far, considering that the passing game currently leads the country at more than 383 yards a game. QB Rakeem Cato continues to evolve in his second season in Huntington, distributing the ball to a spate of receivers headed by Aaron Dobson and Tommy Shuler. Making life tougher on quality defenses, such as Purdue's, is the fact that Marshall is now running the ball with authority as well. In fact, three gifted freshmen, Steward Butler, Kevin Grooms and Remi Watson, combined for 44 carries for 353 yards and six touchdowns last week alone.

Why Purdue Might Win: Marshall may be rolling on offense, but the Boilermakers D is the toughest one it has faced this year … and is probably the best it'll see all year. Purdue is an old-school Big Ten defense, using its physicality to yield just 14 points a game. It should be able to dominate the Herd at the point of attack, unleashing DT Kawann Short and DE Ryan Russell on Cato in the pocket. With veteran corners Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen patrolling the secondary, the Boilermakers have only allowed one touchdown pass. The Herd D, to the contrary, is giving up more than 500 yards a game, and just got done being gashed by Rice.

What To Watch Out For: Marshall has depth at wide receiver. Purdue has a singular star, who should get plenty of opportunities to roam free in the Herd secondary. Senior Antavian Edison has gone from a steady role player in West Lafayette to a legitimate go-to guy of the receiving corps. He's caught a touchdown pass in each game, while developing better chemistry with QB Caleb TerBush. The Boilermakers may not win with offense this season, but a little more consistency will help guide them through the inevitable low-scoring brawls once Big Ten play begins.

What Will Happen: Purdue is an interesting program, a Midwest anomaly. While the rest of the Big Ten is getting dogged these days, the Boilermakers are looking as if they might be capable of exceeding expectations in 2012. Yeah, the Marshall offense can be feisty, but this game will be won on defense. Purdue's is nasty. Marshall's is leaky. The Boilers will move two games above .500 by dominating at the line of scrimmage, and by winning the turnover battle.

CFN Prediction: Purdue 40 … Marshall 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Purdue -16.5 O/U: 64.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 3