Will this be a fun weekend for college football fans in the Mountain State?
It’s not likely.
The weekend begins with Marshall University (3-3) taking on Florida Atlantic (4-2) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in FAU Stadium at Boca Raton, Florida.
Then, West Virginia University (3-3) travels to undefeated (6-0) Oklahoma to play the fifth-ranked Sooners at noon Saturday in Memorial Stadium at Norman, Oklahoma.
Who will win?
Here are my predictions:
n It sets up as a worst-case scenario for Marshall. Florida Atlantic ranks No. 6 in the NCAA statistics in turnover margin with a mark of plus-8. That means the Owls have created eight more turnovers than they have committed.
Marshall’s offense, on the other hand, has committed eight turnovers (five interceptions and three lost fumbles) while causing only five turnovers (two interceptions and three lost fumbles).
So, while FAU is plus-8, the Thundering Herd is minus-3.
That doesn’t add up well for Marshall. Particularly since FAU sophomore quarterback Chris Robison has been taking great care of the ball. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore has completed 133 of 208 passes (.639) for 1,557 yards and 13 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
To make matters worse, Marshall is 0-2 on the road this season. When head coach Doc Holliday was asked what needed to change to get a road win he tersely replied, “Play better. Take care of the ball. Score in the red zone. All three of those things.”
That’s an uphill battle.
Marshall will lose at FAU 31-24.
n There won’t be any love lost during the MU-FAU battle, but WVU at Oklahoma is different. There is actually mutual respect between the coaching staffs.
“Lincoln [Riley, the Sooners’ head coach] and Matt Moore [WVU’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach] worked together for several years at Texas Tech,” pointed out WVU head coach Neal Brown. “They’re really close. I’ve gotten to know Lincoln through Matt.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Lincoln as an offensive mind and as a head coach. You know, everybody thinks that you get one of these premier jobs — and I think without question Oklahoma is a premier job — people just assume that you just go out and get the best players and those are easy jobs.
“I think those are really, really difficult jobs. They are high-pressure jobs and I think Lincoln is doing a phenomenal job of handling that.”
Vice-versa, Riley was very complimentary of WVU’s Brown and his staff.
“They lost a lot of obviously great players from the years past,” said Riley, “but you can see there certainly is still a lot of talent there. They have been really disruptive defensively. I think the most yards they have given up all year is just slightly over 400. Coach (Vic) Koenning (defensive coordinator) does a tremendous job defensively. He has been doing it for a long time and at a high level for a long time.
“Then, offensively, I kind of feel the same way about them. I have a lot of respect for Neal Brown and Matt Moore — the way those guys operate, the way they coach offense. You can see they have progressed. They’ve gotten better throughout the year.
“We’ve had a lot of battles with West Virginia over the year. I’m sure this will be another.”
That’s nice of Riley to say, but I’m not buying it.
I look for WVU to lose 51-10.
Season record: 10-2