Houston (4-6, 3-3) at Marshall (4-6, 3-3)Noon today, Joan C. Edwards Stadium (38,019, FieldTurf), HuntingtonTV: Comcast/Charter Sports SoutheastCrew: Bernie Guenther play-by-play, Chuck Oliver analyst, Rachel Baribeau sidelines
Line: Marshall by 3Series: Houston leads 2-1Last meeting: Houston 63, Marshall 28, Oct. 22, 2011 at HoustonTickets: Plenty available, $25-$35Weather: Sunny, high 57
On the spotMarshall punt protection, punt and kickoff coverage: After giving up a blocked punt and a punt return for a touchdown, things have turned from shaky to depressing.Antavious Wilson, Marshall wide receiver: Coach Gerad Parker probably never believed he would be down to one senior receiver on senior day. Wilson has had a solid year with 55 receptions for 626 yards and five TDs, but he must be even better today.DeAnthony Sims, Houston right guard: Star running back Charles Sims is the most visible injury issue, but Jacolby Ashworth is the only senior starter on the Cougars' offense. Ashworth's consecutive start streak of 31 games will end.
Stats 'n' suchIn the stat rankings: MU fell to third nationally in passing offense (358.5) and eighth in total offense (511.3). In C-USA, the Herd leads in those categories plus scoring offense (38.8) and it is second in pass efficiency (146.02). At the other end, the Herd remains last in scoring defense (116th in FBS, 41.1) and sacks (95th, 1.4), and is 11th in rushing defense (110th, 221.6). ... Individually, Tommy Shuler is third nationally in receptions (8.7, 87 total), Rakeem Cato fifth in total offense (350.4) and Tyler Williams eightth in punting (45.51). ... Houston is 2nd in C-USA in several categories: passing offense (324.6), total offense (473.4), net punting (39.68), sacks (2.9), tackles for loss (7.4) and sacks allowed (1.5). Conversely, the Cougars are 11th in total defense (474.2) and last in punt returns (3.61), kickoff returns (117th nationally, 17.13) and pass defense (276.0).
Milestones: Cato's 65.8 percent completion rate is tops for an MU quarterback, ahead of Byron Leftwich (65.1 percent). Cato is up to fifth on MU's career list in completions (525), with Todd Donnan (542) in his sights. He is sixth in TD passes (44), ninth in passing yards (5,565), 10th in passes attempted (798) and 10th in total offese (10th). He can move past Bernard Morris in pass yardage (5,616) and Chris Parker (5,924) in total offense. ... For single-season catches, Shuler's 87 is sixth all-time, three behind Randy Moss (1997), four behind Darius Watts (91) and nine behind Sean Doctor (1987). Mike Barber's 1987 record of 106 is reachable.The Aaron Dobson/Antavious Wilson watch: If Dobson's season and career are over, he will finish fifth in school history in TD catches (23) and 11th in receptions (161). He has 2,337 yards and could get caught by Wilson (2,154), who is 3 yards behind "Little" Ricky Carter. Wilson is eighth in receptions (173), with Carter's 176 in his reach.
Over-unders2 Times Marshall denies Houston a touchdown in the red zone. The Cougars have had trouble in that department, cashing on in just 22 of 40 opportunities.189 Number of total plays run by both teams.Completely useless trivia
This will be the Herd's final game against the four C-USA teams heading to the Big East - Houston, Southern Methodist, Central Florida and Memphis. MU is 8-13 against the quartet.NextToday's loser will play for pride next week, with the winner playing for a bowl bid. Marshall has the tougher assignment, heading to East Carolina for a 2 p.m. Black Friday bout televised by CBS Sports Network. Houston gets the full week to prepare for Tulane in the final home game at medieval Robertson Stadium.