Week 8 – Marshall at Southern Miss

Posted Oct 19, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction – Marshall at Southern Miss

Marshall (2-4) at Southern Miss (0-6) Oct. 20, 7:00, CBS Sports Network

Here's The Deal: After revving its engine in Orlando, does Southern Miss have any gas left in the tank? The Golden Eagles have yet to taste victory for new head coach Ellis Johnson, though they did come painfully close last Saturday evening. Still showing a lot of heart—and gradual improvement—USM will continue to plug away as it attempts to finally reverse course in this historically challenging campaign. While Marshall is two games below .500, it remains in the hunt for an East Division that won't be decided for weeks. The Thundering Herd will be returning to action following a bye, eager to snap a two-game losing streak. The team has participated in four consecutive tight games, but has only prevailed in of them, leaving little margin for error as the second half begins.

Why Marshall Might Win: No offense has been more dynamic in the East Division, or possibly all of Conference USA. The Thundering has averaged 558 yards and 40 points a game behind the passing of Rakeem Cato, who has thrown for 18 scores and more than 2,300 yards. Facing a defense in Hattiesburg that has hardly been vintage Southern Miss, Cato will excel with help from a speedy supporting cast that includes rookie backs Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms, and eclectic receivers Aaron Dobson, Tommy Shuler and Gator Hoksins.

Why Southern Miss Might Win: The Herd sure can score, but can it stop anyone? The returns from the first half would indicate a negative response. Marshall has allowed no fewer than 45 points in each of the last three games, and has been getting trucked for an average of five yards a carry. The Golden Eagles will have a chance to build on last week's season-best 31 points. Southern Miss was fueled by the running of a pair of rookies, QB Anthony Alford and RB Jalen Richard, who combined for 158 yards and four scores.

What To Watch Out For: The Herd has had problems with most opposing offenses, but especially those with an athletic quarterback. In Alford, Southern Miss has just that type of athlete behind center. While still raw as a passer, he has gradually matured, highlighted by last weekend's notable effort against a quality UCF defense. Marshall will try to force him to throw, pressing up its safeties, Boston College imports Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha, to stop the run.

What Will Happen: Marshall and Southern Miss will square off in Hattiesburg in a game between two relatively evenly matched squads. The difference? The Thundering Herd has far more weapons and the balance needed to prevail in a game that figures to be dictated by the offenses. The Herd and the Eagles will go up and down the field, but it will be Cato and his evolving cast of skill position players who'll score the decisive points in the final minutes.

CFN Prediction: Marshall 35 … Southern Miss 33
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Southern Miss -2.5 O/U: 66
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 1