Week 9 - UCF at Marshall

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – UCF at Marshall

UCF (5-2) at Marshall (3-4) Oct. 27, 7:00, CBS Sports Network

Here's The Deal: Long before this week's kickoff in Huntington, UCF already scored a huge victory. Its appeal of an NCAA postseason ban won't be heard until next year, which means the team will be eligible for a bowl game and the Conference USA championship. The Knights currently lead the East Division, with a one-game lead in the loss column over Marshall.

The Thundering Herd snapped a two-game losing streak last Saturday, erupting out of its bye week with a 59-24 blowout of Southern Miss. The team has been close all season, even against tougher opponents, such as Ohio, Purdue and Tulsa, but is hopeful that Week 8 represented a turning point. It's going to take three wins over the final five games for Marshall to qualify for the postseason.

Why UCF Might Win: The Thundering Herd is on the wrong side of .500 because of the play of a defense that ranks 111th or lower nationally in run defense, scoring D and sacks. Marshall is weak at the point of attack, which is going to entice the Knights to run right at it in a north-south fashion. UCF sports a powerful ground game led by RB Latavius Murray. The senior is coming off the second best game of his career, rushing for 192 yards and two scores on 23 carries. When he's rolling downhill, it makes life easier for QB Blake Bortles, and keeps the potent Herd offense on the sidelines.

Why Marshall Might Win: The Herd is the new Houston in Conference USA, a high-octane offense that'll outgun opponents through the air. Marshall ranks No. 2 nationally in passing, riding the arm of young Rakeem Cato and the pass-catching ability of TE Gator Hoskins and receivers Tommy Shuler, Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson. The team has already scored more than 50 points in a game three times this year, which is going to drag methodical UCF in a game its unaccustomed to playing. If the Herd can control the tempo, it's going to pull into a first place tie with the front-running Knights.

What To Watch Out For: The Knights haven't allowed a touchdown pass in the last two games, or more than one in a game since the opener. Marshall, though, presents a far different challenge than any of UCF's other opponents in 2012. Not only has Cato evolved into a gunslinger, but the receiving corps is diverse and talented. UCF safeties Kemal Ishmael and Clayton Geathers are gifted, but it's the corners, A.J. Bouye and Jordan Ozerities who could get caught defending on an island this weekend.

What Will Happen: One dimension won't be enough to defeat a UCF team that'll have a little extra bounce in its step this week. The Knights, especially the seniors, are fired up that they'll be a part of the postseason. And they'll play like it. Unlike Marshall, which is essentially a one-trick operation, the Knights can win with the running game, the passing attack or the D. All three phases will contribute to remain one step ahead of the home team in a high-scoring game.

CFN Prediction: UCF 38 … Marshall 31
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) UCF -2.5 O/U: 68
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 2