Marshall (3-2, 1-0) at Florida Atlantic (2-4, 1-3)
5 p.m., FAU Stadium (29,419, Celebration Bermudagrass), Boca Raton, Fla.TV: Fox College Sports. Crew: Brendan Burke play-by-play, Ben Leber analyst, Lesley McCaslin sideline.Line: Marshall by 111/2
Series: First meetingLast game: None.Tickets: Plenty available, $13-$100.Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees
On the spotMarshall offensive line: Giving up nine sacks - five against Texas-San Antonio - is unacceptable. Rushing for 82 yards on 37 carries after three quarters is unacceptable. The flip side there: That line dominated the fourth quarter, indicating excellent conditioning on a stuffy afternoon.Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler, MU quarterback and slot receiver: Surprisingly, they connected just five times against Texas-San Antonio.Jaquez Johnson, FAU quarterback: The first question after his career-best game (404 total yards) against Alabama-Birmingham is how his shoulder feels. The second question is how well he will decipher Marshall's much-improved defense, which may spring a new wrinkle on any play.All MU players from south Florida: Do they play their best game of the year, or make mistakes trying to impress their friends and family?
Stats 'n' suchIn the stat rankings: Justin Haig is tied for first in C-USA scoring with 43 points, and in extra-point percentage (perfect in 25 tries). Cato is second in average passing yards (271.2), efficiency rating (139.6) and total yardage (297.2). Shuler is second in receptions per game (7.6), and Tyler Williams is second in punting average (42.2).
Team-wise, the Herd leads the league in scoring offense (38.6), scoring defense (17.4), total offense (469.4), total defense (278.8), pass defense efficiency (96.1) and third-down success against (29.3 percent). FAU is second in total defense (359.7) and pass defense efficiency (111.0), first in net punting (38.2) and second in penalty yardage (33.3), but is 13th in sacks against (19), extra points (14 of 16), kickoff coverage (35.7), red-zone offense (66.7 percent) and home attendance (13,911 average).Milestones: Cato passed Michael Payton (689) to become No. 3 on the school's all-time completions list (697). He has 1,068 pass attempts, fourth behind Payton's 1,108. Cato improved his completion rate to 65.262 percent, ahead of Byron Leftwich's 65.118 percent. . . . Shuler has 162 receptions and needs three to tie No. 11 Aaron Dobson and six to tie Randy Moss and Fuzzy Filliez. . . . Gator Hoskins' next receiving TD gives him 18, tying him for 10th place with Nate Poole, LaVorn Colclough and Antavious Wilson.Over-unders169 Rushing yardage for Marshall. That's the average FAU is yielding over four conference games, which no doubt displeases defense-minded coach Carl Pelini.21/2 Catches for anybody who plays "X" receiver. A revolving door has featured Davonte Allen, Demetrius Evans and Devon "Moo Moo" Smith, and only Smith has proven able to separate from cornerbacks consistently. The 5-foot-7 Smith does not have "X" size but he is the best man for the job, it seems.Completely useless trivia
Doc Holliday could become the first MU coach to string together two consecutive wins in the state of Florida. No joke - his Herd previously defeated Florida International in the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg, 20-10.That was the Herd's second victory in the Sunshine State, joining the 2003 win at Central Florida. The six losses came to Catawba in the 1948 Tangerine Bowl, UCF (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 regular season) and Miami (2007). NextMarshall has a few extra days to prepare for a critical East Division game against Middle Tennessee State, Thursday night, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1. FAU has two full weeks before its next game, and will need those extra days - the Owls will be served up as Auburn's homecoming dish on Oct. 26, at a time to be announced.- By Doug Smock