Marshall (2-2) at Purdue (2-1)3:15 p.m. today, Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500, Prescription Athletic Turf), West Lafayette, Ind.TV: Big Ten Network (DirecTV channel 610).Crew: Eric Collins play-by-play, Derek Rackley analyst, sidelines TBA
Line: Purdue by 161/2Series: First meetingTickets: plenty available, $20-$60Weather: Mostly sunny, winds 5-10 mph, high 72
On the spotRakeem Cato, Marshall quarterback: Odds are his offensive line will bear the brunt of the best front-four push on the schedule. This will test his newfound cool and command of the Herd's hyper-tempo offense.D.J. Hunter, Marshall linebacker: The 190-pound former safety will not only have to dodge larger linemen and tight ends, but he may have to dodge 247-pound tight end Gabe Holmes lining up in the backfield.
Stats 'n' suchMarshall's four-game total of 164 points and 2,244 total yards is the most explosive in years - the scoring is the most since 1997, when the Herd scored 184 against Kent State, Western Illinois, Ball State and Akron. The last time the Herd amassed so many yards in four games was 2002, against Virginia Tech, Central Florida, Kent State and Buffalo.In the stat rankings: Marshall still leads the nation in passing yardage (383.5), is third in net punting (44.07), seventh in total offense (561.0) and 16th in scoring offense (41.0), but is 110th in sacks (three in four games), 112th in rushing defense (243.75), 117th of total defense (509.0) and scoring defense (42.75). ... Purdue is sixth in net punting (42.5), 12th in pass efficiency defense (95.27), 17th in total defense (294.67) and 19th in scoring offense (39.67), scoring defense (14.0) and sacks (nine in three games).Milestones: MU's Aaron Dobson has 23 career touchdown receptions, which is tied for fifth on the school's all-time list. One more ties him for fourth with Troy Brown (1991-92). Cato already has lifted his career completion percentage to 64.3 percent, which would put him second behind Byron Leftwich and ahead of Chad Pennington.
Over-unders244 Purdue rushing yards, which would equal Marshall's average allowed.5 Purdue plays of 20 yards or more. Marshall allowed 10 last week, accounting for 331 of Rice's 647 total yards.21/2 Sacks of quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato suffered four sacks last week at Rice, half of what the Herd has allowed in four games.Completely useless triviaToday's game is just Marshall's fourth on Indiana soil, against the third different school. First were a 24-0 win and a 21-14 loss to Evansville in 1947 and 1950; the last such game was a 42-16 win over Ball State in which Randy Moss caught five touchdown passes and Chad Pennington threw six, both school records.
NextBoth teams move to conference play for the rest of the season. Marshall has its homecoming game against Tulsa, which appears to be the toughest team in Conference USA's Western Division. Game time is at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday, with CBS Sports Network televising. ... Purdue stays at home, beginning the Big Ten season against Michigan at 4 p.m. (with temporary lights) on the Big Ten Network.- By Doug Smock