Tulsa (4-1, 2-0) at Marshall (2-3, 1-0)3:30 p.m. today, Joan C. Edwards Stadium (38,019, FieldTurf), HuntingtonTV: CBS Sports NetworkCrew: Brad Johansen play-by-play, Doug Chapman analyst, Tammy Blackburn sidelines
Line: Tulsa by 4Series: Tulsa leads 3-0Last meeting: Tulsa 59, Marshall 17, Nov. 12, 2011 at Tulsa, Okla.Tickets: Plenty available, $25-35Weather: 30 percent chance of showers, high 64
On the spotRakeem Cato, Marshall quarterback: Arguably, none of the three interceptions against Purdue were his fault - one was a receiver bobble, another came under a heavy rush, and perhaps the receiver could have prevented the route-jumping pick-six. No matter. Golden Hurricane defenders are going to bring blitzes from every conceivable angle, with all conceivable personnel.Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha, Marshall safeties: They're going to lead the Herd in tackles every game, so fans need to let that one go. The thing is this: They can't miss a tackle, and they have to decipher Tulsa's wide variety of formations. Cutting out personal fouls would be a plus.Tulsa defense in general (big plays): After throttling Fresno State in the second half the previous week, the Hurricane yielded 11 double-digit yardage plays at Alabama-Birmingham, most a lot more than 10 yards. The first play of the contest: A 75-yard touchdown pass.
Stats 'n' suchIn the stat rankings: MU's Cato is third in the nation and first in C-USA in total offense (390.2), and also leads the league in pass efficiency rating (144.69). Tommy Shuler leads the nation in receptions (51) and is third in average per game (10.2). Shuler leads the league in that category, and in receiving yards per game (106.8). ... The Herd is third nationally in passing yardage (394.6), and leads the league in that, total offense (555.6), net punting (43.22), pass efficiency rating (145.81), third-down conversions (54.0 percent) and first downs (153). MU is last in the league and nation in scoring defense (44.4), tied for last in C-USA in first downs against (138) and 11th in C-USA in total defense (495.8), sacks (four in five games, 0.8) and penalty yardage (75.4). ... Tulsa leads the FBS in sacks (5.2) and tackles for loss (10.6). It leads the league in rushing offense (244.8), scoring offense (42.0), rushing defense (104.6), total defense (338.0) and sacks allowed (0.8). Trey Watts leads C-USA in all-purpose running (153.0), while DeAundre Brown is tied for first in sacks (1.0).
Milestones: Cato is approaching the top 10 in many Marshall career categories, but may be the closest in touchdown passes. He is 11th with 30, five behind Eric Kresser (1996). Aaron Dobson has 23 career touchdown receptions, tying him for fifth with Tim Martin (1993-95), Josh Davis (2001-04) and Cody Slate (2006-09). The next one ties him for fourth with Troy Brown (1991-92). ... Dobson is 26 yards from hitting 2,100, held by 10th-place Sean Doctor (1987-88). Dobson is 14th in receptions (140) and Antavious Wilson is tied for 11th (143), and could tie Doctor for 10th if they reach 147.
Over-unders21/2 Sacks for either side. If Marshall's offensive line goes under it's a victory. If MU's defense goes over it's a miracle.18 Number of MU rushes minus Cato incompletions. If Tulsa cheats toward the pass, expect Cato to read it and hand off - and then the Herd's offensive line still has to contend with a solid front four. (If you're wondering, that equation computed to exactly zero last week at Purdue).Completely useless triviaThis is the 111th homecoming game at Marshall, a tradition traced back to Nov. 28, 1895. The Herd is 58-48-8 all-time in homecoming games and is riding a two-game winning streak. One trend Herd fans hope goes away: This is just the third time the homecoming game has fallen in the first seven days of October, and the Herd has lost the previous two - 1983 vs. Western Carolina (21-7) and 2009 against East Carolina (21-17).
NextMarshall gets the week off at a seemingly appropriate time - after the sixth game of a 12-week season. The Herd then plays Oct. 20 at Southern Mississippi. ... Tulsa faces a tight turnaround, taking on Texas-El Paso at home at 8 p.m. Thursday on Fox Sports Net.