Marshall is currently a five-point favorite over Virginia Tech this weekend, according to college football betting odds.
If the odds don’t change dramatically over the coming days, the Thundering Herd will be the fourth Group of Five team to be favored over a Power Five team this season. The other three G5 teams are 2-1 outright in those games.
Can Marshall become the third Group of Five team to beat a Power Five team as a favorite Saturday?
A win would position the Thundering Herd nicely among its Sun Belt peers, perhaps even making Marshall a top early contender for a New Year’s Six bowl berth. Through the early portion of the season, there isn’t a clear-cut New Year’s Six favorite at the Group of Five level, and the Sun Belt East should give Marshall ample opportunities for notable victories.
Seven G5 teams are currently undefeated, with three competing in the Sun Belt East. If an SBC East team can survive conference play with a 7-1 or 8-0 record, they’ll be in prime position for a marquee bowl appearance.
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Marshall-Virginia Tech Presents A Great Matchup
Virginia Tech is a winnable matchup for Marshall, which stacks up well with the Hokies. Marshall likes to lean on its running game, and Virginia Tech ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in rushing yards allowed per game, yielding 212 per contest.
Marshall running back Rasheen Ali is fourth in the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game, averaging 111 per game. He’s scored five rushing touchdowns in two games, giving the Thundering Herd a reliable offensive playmaker in the running game.
On the other side of the ball, the Hokies’ offense is averaging 23 points per game, putting them 99th nationally. Marshall’s defense held UAlbany to 17 points in the season opener, and East Carolina scored just 13 points in the team’s second contest. Marshall leads the Sun Belt in scoring defense.
On paper, the matchup looks promising for Marshall.
The Hokies are also dealing with questions at quarterback and injuries at numerous key positions. Star wide receiver Ali Jennings missed last week’s game against Rutgers, as did starting quarterback Grant Wells. While Wells, who started his career at Marshall, might return for a homecoming of sorts, Jennings is not likely to suit up.
Marshall Football Is In The Mix For A Sun Belt Championship
If Marshall can beat Virginia Tech, it will give the Sun Belt a win over a Power Five team in each of the first four weeks of the college football season.
Texas State opened the year with a victory over Baylor. JMU defeated Virginia in Week 2, and South Alabama demolished Oklahoma State in Week 3.
For Marshall, Saturday represents the first of two matchups with the ACC this fall. In addition to Virginia Tech, the Thundering Herd hit the road for an Oct. 7 visit to North Carolina State.
If Marshall can win either or both of those games against Power Five teams and put together a strong conference record, the Thundering Herd should be in the conversation to earn a New Year’s Six berth.