Week 12 - Houston at Marshall

Posted Nov 16, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Houston at Marshall

Houston (4-6) at Marshall (4-6) Nov. 17, 12:00, CSS

Here's The Deal:Houston and Marshall are running out of time in their quest to become bowl eligible. This week's winner remains alive, while the loser is eliminated.

The Cougars are coming off an emotional week, capping the season-ending injury to Charles Sims and the near-fatal injury to D.J. Hayden with a 41-7 home loss to Tulsa. The program is banged up, both physically and emotionally, raising questions about what's left in the tank at this stage of the season. Houston will make the long trip to West Virginia in what will be its second to last game as a member of Conference USA.

The Thundering Herd has been unable to gain a foothold in 2012, trading each positive step with a subsequent loss or two. It fell at UAB a week ago, 38-31, in a game that was supposed to go into the win column. Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is just 16-19 after almost three years in Huntington, gradually losing support with each failed attempt to compete in the East Division.

Why Houston Might Win: Without Sims to run the ball, the Cougars will put their fate of the right arm of David Piland.

While Piland has had an up-and-down season, he has thrown for 16 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards. He has a deep corps of receivers that span both veterans and budding stars, such as rookies Deontay Greenberry and Larry McDuffey. The Houston attack will be going up against a Marshall defense that ranks 116th nationally in scoring, and has gotten to the quarterback just 14 times in 10 games.

Why Marshall Might Win: The Herd will fill the air with balls, too. But, it can also run the ball with success.

Marshall sophomore QB Rakeem Cato is vying for All-Conference USA honors, having already thrown for 3,506 yards and 29 touchdowns. He can change the tone of a game with his passing. However, the Herd is especially potent because it can complement the passing attack with the running of rookies Kevin Grooms, Remi Watson and Steward Butler. Houston's D has been gutted all year, and won't get a break this weekend.

What To Watch Out For: The Cougars are also taking hits along the offensive line, which could create a few openings for the sputtering Marshall pass rush. After being dormant in the first half of the year, the Thundering Herd has gotten to the quarterback three times in three of the last four games. The D-line isn't very big, but NT Brandon Sparrow and ends Jeremiah Taylor and Alex Bazzie play with the quickness and athleticism to cause problems for opposing tackles.

What Will Happen: This week's game in Huntington has all of the markings of a shootout. Both offenses will pile up impressive numbers at the expense of mediocre defenses. Holliday has his kids still motivated by the possibility of getting to .500 and earning a bowl berth. Houston, on the contrary, is running out of steam, which will become evident late in the second half.

CFN Prediction: Marshall 37 … Houston 31
Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Marshall -3 O/U: 74.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Killing Them Softly, 1 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2): 1.5