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West Virginia vs. Marshall

Pointspread: West Virginia -13.5

9/10/10

Things didn't go the way Doc Holliday wanted in the first week of play, but they may get better in the second. In his first game as head coach of the Marshall Thundering Herd, Holliday watched his team get pulverized by the Ohio State Buckeyes 45-7. Now his new team will take on his old one; the West Virginia Mountaineers. Bill Stewart and Co. started the year with a business like 31-0 win over Coastal Carolina. The line currently has WVU as a 13 point favorite. Can they cover? Let's take look at some areas that might help YOU decide.

One of the biggest keys for Marshall will be stopping WVU RB Noel Devine. The senior runner is one of the best in the nation at what he does. Rest assured, he will get plenty of carries. Marshall has 4 of their top 5 tacklers back from last year. They weren't able to stop him a year ago when he rushed for 2 TDs, and 103 yards en route to a 24-7 Mountaineers win. To be successful in this game they must contain Devine. I say contain because it's extremely unlikely they can stop him completely.

A big advantage for the Thundering Herd heading into this game is that their offense will be far better than last year. QB Brian Anderson has improved since the last time these teams met. He tossed 2 INTs in their previous matchup. It's pivotal that he connects with his WRs in the end zone this time. Playing at home on a Friday night will help his confidence. Anderson has a good offensive line protecting him, and just as importantly making holes for RB Martin Ward. The sophomore runner was quiet against the excellent run of the Buckeyes, but is capable of helping his team get a "W" here, or in our case allowing them to stay within 13 points.

The West Virginia Mountaineers have been solid on the road in recent history, but they have shown the ability to lose to inferior teams. Case in point, they lost to USF last year 19-30 as a 3 point favorite. It will be important for them to enter this game and quickly step on the throat of their opponent. They can't let Marshall believe they've got a chance to take down the 25th ranked team in the country. If they let Marshall hang around in a big, big, national televised event then the Mountaineers could find themselves in a bad way during the second half.

How will West Virginia win this game? The same way the win most of their games! That is by pounding the rock with Noel Devine. He gained 1,465 yards last year and is more than capable of doing so again. QB Geno Smith was largely effective in his debut as the starter, but he could have problems entering a hostile environment for the first time. On the defensive side of the ball it will be up to the Mountaineers to keep pressure on Marshall QB Anderson. If they can force him to throw INTs like he did twice last year it would virtually end any chances of a Thundering Herd victory.

This is a no play for us but here are some thing to consider. West Virginia has owned this series since it resumed ago 5 years ago. They have won every year and by large margins. That being said, last year was the closest Marshal has come. They lost 24-7. However, they led at the half, 7-3. Both teams bring back essentially the same team from a year ago, however West Virginia must replaces QB Jarret Brown. Lastly, it has always been our opinion that playing a powerhouse the week before, as Marshall did with Ohio State, HELPS that team the following week providing they aren't banged up. Things that were impossible to execute a week ago, suddenly work, and build confidence. No strong play here but we lean towards Marshall +13.5
 

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