Marshall (7-3, 5-1) at Florida International (1-9, 1-5)6 p.m., FIU Stadium (20,000, FieldTurf), MiamiTV: Fox College Sports Central (Suddenlink channel 510)Line: Marshall by 32
Series: Marshall leads 1-0Last meeting: Marshall 20, FIU 10, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Dec. 20, 2010Tickets: Come and get 'em, $15-$21Weather: Partly cloudy, 20 percent chance of showers, 76 degrees at kickoff
On the spotRakeem Cato, Marshall quarterback: As he heads to his home city, he does so with a not-so-shiny record in the state of Florida. In the 2011 game at Central Florida and the first three quarters against Florida Atlantic this year, Cato was 22 of 49 for 197 yards, no touchdowns and one interception - a messy 74.2 rating. The fourth quarter of FAU was much better - 7 of 14 for 106 yards, a touchdown and a 137.2 rating.Marshall players in general: When a few dozen Miami boys get together, the bounds of civility are sure to be tested (see end of bowl game, 2011). The Herd has a lot more to lose if skirmishes develop.Ron Turner, FIU coach: In a city where the Panthers are about the sixth banana, he has to convince the world he is at least a better hire then was Isiah Thomas, the architect of an FIU basketball disaster.
Stats 'n' suchIn the rankings: Cato is ninth nationally in points responsible for (197) and second in Conference USA in that and many other categories: completions (21.4), passer rating (148.6), passing TDs (28), passing yards (2,801), yards per completion (13.09), points responsible for and total offense (303.9). Tommy Shuler is second in receiving yards (798), receiving TDs (eight) and receptions (7.4). Devon Smith remains second in punt returns (17.4).
Team-wise, the Herd is fifth in the nation in third-down conversion rate (.527), eighth in scoring offense (42.8) and ninth in punt returns (14.8). MU leads C-USA in third downs, scoring and total offense (506.2) and is second in third-down defense (.338), first downs (264), fewest interceptions (eight), passing yardage (296.0), punt returns, fewest tackles for loss allowed (5.2), passer rating (149.5), pass defense rating (105.85) and tackles for loss (7.4).
Milestones: Cato has come within striking distance of No. 3 on MU's all-time passing yardage and total offense lists. He has 9,061 passing yards, 350 behind Michael Payton's 9,411; his 9,362 total yards are 342 behind Payton's 9,704. He remains second in completion rate to Byron Leftwich, 64.5 percent to 65.1 percent. ... Tommy Shuler's next reception will lift him into a tie for sixth with Cody Slate (199), and his 2,058 receiving yards puts him within reach of No. 12 Sean Doctor (2,100) and No. 11 "Little Ricky" Carter (2,157). ... Gator Hoskins is tied for ninth in receiving TDs with 22, and Tommy Shuler is tied for 18th with 14.
Over-unders15 Minutes left in the game when Cato dons his ballcap and Blake Frohnapfel enters at QB. 21 Marshall's time of possession, in minutes. That's how long the Herd held the ball in its 56-14 march over Alabama-Birmingham. When you score in a minute on every possession ...41/2 Number of personal fouls (including those that offset). See second item, "On the spot," above.222 Marshall advantage in total yardage. That adds Marshall's average margin in league-only yardage (520-407) and FIU's deficit (287-396).
Completely useless triviaFriday was the ninth anniversary of FIU coach Turner's firing at Illinois, where he was 35-57 in eight seasons but 4-19 in his last two.NextBoth teams head into the season finale, both play Friday and both have big games - OK, FIU and Florida Atlantic (aka Shula Bowl XII) won't capture the imagination of south Florida football fans, but there's an enormous battle for bragging rights among the south Florida players. That 3 p.m. game at FAU airs on Fox Sports 1.The Herd likely will play for bigger stakes, as East Carolina rolls into Huntington for a noon game that may decide the East Division champion. CBS College Sports will be on the scene.