Miami (Ohio) (0-0) at Marshall (0-0)7 p.m., Edwards Stadium (38,227, FieldTurf), HuntingtonTV: CBS Sports Network (Suddenlink channel 512 in Kanawha Valley). Crew: Brad Johansen play-by-play, Randy Cross analyst, Rashan Ali sidelines.Line: Marshall by 20
Series: Miami leads 30-10-1Last meeting: Marshall 33, Miami 25, Sept. 29, 2004 at HuntingtonTickets: Plenty available, $25-$35, $10 off online only until noon. Ticket office hours: Henderson Center 1-4:30 p.m.; stadium box offices 4:30 to game time.Weather: Mostly cloud, humid, 40 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms, 81 degrees at kickoff
On the spotMarshall defense: Not exactly an original idea, but it's on the minds of everybody in the house, and has been for the last 280 days. That's how long it has been since Chris Rippon left as defensive coordinator after the Herd yielded 517 points on the season.Marshall kicking game: Other than punter Tyler Williams, who has been scraping the moon in preseason camp, this remains an adventure. Amareto Curraj is set to take his first kickoff and Justin Haig is remaining on field goals; Devon "Moo Moo" Smith is sharing punt returns with Tommy Shuler, an arrangement that may last as long as it takes Smith to run one back all the way. Will kick coverage be better? Should be, with the infusion of good athletes.Austin Boucher, Miami quarterback: His last act as a starting quarterback came 966 days ago, when he won the MVP award (and a kiss from Danica Patrick) at the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl. He's a fifth-year senior, but still: Can he take over this team in front of a hostile audience?
Stats and suchMarshall has gone 33 consecutive games without missing an extra point, hitting all 60 last year and the last 125 total. The last miss came on Sept. 25, 2010 when Tyler Warner's kick was blocked by Ohio.Positive items in the (2012) stat rankings: Marshall's Rakeem Cato was first in the nation in completions (406), third in TD passes (37), fourth in completion percentage (69.5) and fifth in total offense (352.67). Shuler led in recpetions (110, 9.17 per game) and Williams was ninth in punting (45.19). Team-wise, the Herd was first in passing yardage (365.08), second in third-down conversions (54.59 percent) and first downs per game (29.42), third in kicks blocked (seven) and sixth in total offense (534.25).
Milestones: Cato remains first in MU career completion percentage, 66.2 percent. Next are Byron Leftwich (65.1) and Chad Pennington (63.4). Cato's 6,260 career passing yards rank eighth in school history, 44 behind Carl Fodor, 382 behind Bernard Morris and 397 behind John Gregory. ... For Miami, Dayonne Nunley's 12 career interceptions rank him sixth in school history, four behind leader Ron Carpenter.
Over-unders86 Offensive snaps run by Cato and the Herd. That's four below the 2012 average, and will severely test the RedHawks' depth and conditioning on a hot, humid day.2 Fourth-down stops by both defenses. Both teams were so bad in this category last year that it's a wonder anybody punted against them.Completely useless triviaThe Herd rarely opens a season at home against FBS competition. The last time it did so was 2004, a 17-15 loss to Troy. The last time MU won such a game was in 1982, a 30-21 win over Kent State.
Marshall is 3-2-1 in season openers played at home against a present-day FBS program. Other games came in 1906 (0-0 tie vs. Cincinnati), 1932 (60-0 win over Louisville), 1977 (49-27 loss to Ohio) and 1979 (31-14 win over Toledo).
NextMiami gets the tougher end of the deal, heading down Interstate 75 to face Kentucky in a noon game next Saturday on Fox Sports Net. Marshall stays home for a slugfest (cough, cough) with Gardner-Webb of the Big South. Game time is 6:30 p.m. and the only TV screens showing it will be hooked up to the closed circuit at Edwards Stadium.