The Thundering Herd of Marshall returns home for the first time since Sept. 16 on Saturday to battle the Old Dominion Monarchs in the Herd’s first C-USA home game of the 2017 season as well as homecoming in Huntington.
Marshall comes in having won each of its last three games, most recently a 14-3 road victory at Charlotte on Oct. 7 and sits at 4-1 overall and 1-0 in C-USA play. The Herd has already exceeded its win total from 2016 through the first five games of the season.
ODU comes in wounded having lost each of its last three games overall with each by 30 points or more and brings a 2-3 overall record and a 0-1 record in C-USA play into Edwards Stadium Saturday.
The all-time series between the Herd and the Monarchs only dates back to 2014 when ODU joined C-USA and Marshall leads the series 2-1, but the Monarchs got their first win over the Herd last season at home in blowout fashion.
ODU finished 10-3 last season and won a bowl game, but it has struggled so far this season and the Herd has flipped the script from last season’s dreadful 3-9 campaign. All the momentum is pointing in Marshall’s favor in this game, and the experts back up that premise strongly.
The current spread sees the Herd as a 16.5-point home favorite over ODU and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Marshall an 83.8 percent chance to defeat the Monarchs.
A key matchup to look for in this game will be how well the Herd’s ground attack can perform against ODU’s run defense. The Monarchs are giving up 234 rushing yards-per-game and just surrendered 453 rushing yards at home to Florida Atlantic on Oct. 7.
Marshall put forth its best rushing output of the season against Charlotte on Oct. 7 by the tune of 212 yards on 42 attempts. And if the Herd can duplicate that success on the ground against a subpar rushing defense, the Monarchs could be in for a long game.
These two teams are heading in opposite directions and that greatly favors Marshall, especially at home and especially on homecoming. ODU has three losses of 30 points or more in a row, and while two of those losses were to Power Five competition in North Carolina and Virginia Tech, a 30-point home loss to Florida Atlantic was particularly disheartening.
The Herd is on a mission to prove last season was a fluke and so far, so good with a 4-1 record. But it hasn’t always been pretty for Marshall and ODU has enough talent to make things very interesting if the Herd is not sharp Saturday, particularly on the offensive side of the ball where it has been more hit or miss this season.
Marshall will be looking for another revenge win this week and looks to make up for a loss to ODU in 2016. And no better time than homecoming Saturday for the Herd.
Marshall and ODU kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia and the game will be aired on ESPN3.