2019 0901 mu football

Marshall fans whoop it up during last week’s opener against VMI.

Predictions, anyone?

You’ve come to the right place.

So, let’s hit the road.

Here are my picks for Marshall University’s game against No. 24 Boise State at 9 p.m. Friday in Albertsons Stadium at Boise, Idaho, and West Virginia University’s game versus Missouri at noon Saturday in Memorial Stadium at Columbia, Missouri.

First, Marshall.

“Am I blue? Am I blue? Ain’t this turf in my face telling you?”

There’s a strong chance of that lyric telling the tale for Marshall in this game. That’s because almost nobody beats Boise State on the blue turf.

It just doesn’t happen.

Especially in non-conference games.

The Broncos have a stunning 26-1 record in non-conference games since 2006. And that’s not all the bad news for Marshall’s fans. Boise State also is 8-2 all-time versus Conference USA.

But there’s a catch.

The Broncos lost to Louisville and East Carolina when they were members of C-USA, but never have been defeated by any of the league’s current membership. In fact, the last time Boise State played a current C-USA school, the Broncos busted Southern Miss 60-7 in 2013.

If that’s not enough bad karma, the Associated Press Top 25 voters piled on some more on Monday. They voted Boise State No. 24 this week on the strength of the Broncos’ 36-31 comeback victory over Florida State.

Considering Marshall has lost 15 consecutive games to Top 25 opponents, that’s not good news. Marshall hasn’t defeated a Top 25 team since former coach Bobby Pruett’s Thundering Herd upset Kansas State 27-20 in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2003.

That’s 16 long seasons ago.

History won’t be wearing a helmet on Friday night, but a trend is a trend is a trend.

Besides that, Marshall hasn’t had much success on a big stage lately, which is what ESPN2 is providing with this national telecast. Remember the Herd’s last matchup with a Top 25 opponent? Marshall was beaten 59-28 by Louisville in 2016.

Then, there’s the injury to Marshall middle linebacker Jaquan Yulee. That was the last position the Herd could afford to have a season-ending injury because there already was a lack of experienced depth. Yulee’s injury forced Marshall to move senior Omari Cobb from lining up outside, switching him inside along with Tavante Beckett and, then, playing nickel coverage in the secondary for a 4-2-5 alignment.

Add all this up and I don’t see Marshall winning. MU will fall 37-17.

Now, for WVU.

There’s no comparison between playing James Madison at home and taking on Missouri on the road. What’s worse, the Tigers will be testy after the 37-31 upset loss at Wyoming last week.

None of this is lost on WVU first-year coach Neal Brown.

“The thing that sticks out is Missouri threw the ball really well,” he said, referring to new quarterback Kelly Bryant, who transferred from Clemson. “They had a bunch of big plays. Kelly Bryant, for his first start at Missouri, did a very nice job. I think we’ll see a much different team in Columbia on Saturday.”

He’s correct.

Missouri isn’t likely to be the turnover machine it was a week ago. In fact, coach Barry Odom tried to make sure of it this week. He had business cards printed that read: “Takeaways = Victory.”

“We had these fancy cards made up,” said Odom, “and everyone has one.”

Little things can mean a lot.

It’s going to help Missouri defeat WVU 34-20.