Purdue (0-0) at Marshall (0-0)
When: Sunday, September 6th, 2015
Where: Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Time: 3:00 ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
The Marshall Thundering Herd will open the season today against the Purdue Boilermakers. This is the first time Marshall has ever hosted a Big Ten team and they are 7.5 point favorites. Marshall is coming off a 13-1 season that was almost perfect if it wasn’t for their 67-66 overtime loss to Western Kentucky late in the year, which cost them a big time Bowl game. They went on to win the Boca Raton Bowl over Northern Illinois 52-23. Gone is Rakeem Cato who became the all-time leading passer in Marshall history last year. Replacing him will be Junior Michael Birdsong. He does not have a ton of experience, but does have the entire offensive line back. They will turn to running back Devon Johnson to carry most of the load. He ran for 1,790 yards last year with 17 touchdowns. Marshall will have to fill the holes on defense as they lost their two leading tacklers.
Purdue is coming into the year off a 3-9 season including 1-7 in the Big Ten. They won their last 3 conference games in 2012 and have now lost 15 of their last 16. Things don’t look much better this year. Gone are their top 2 running backs who combined for over 1,500 yards last year. Austin Appleby will be the QB, but he’s coming off a 52.9% passing season that saw him throw more interceptions than touchdowns. This will be Darrell Hazell’s third year at Purdue and all signs point toward a slight improvement based on 15 returning starters and a more favorable schedule. They have an outside shot at going to a Bowl game, but I would say no.
It’s hard to imagine a Conference USA team favored by a touchdown over a Big Ten team, but in this case, it’s accurate. Head coach Doc Holliday has this program rolling right now and Purdue is just a bad team. I’ll swallow the points today.
Pick: Marshall -7.5