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Marshall West Virginia Spread Pick – College Football Week 1

The opening game of the 2011 college football season for two in-state rivals kicks off with non-conference action this Sunday afternoon September 4 (3:30pm ET) with the West Virginia Mountaineers (9-4 in 2010) of the Big East taking on the Thundering Herd of Marshall (5-7 in 2010) out of Conference USA in Morgantown, WV. Coach Dana Hologorsen, replacing the departed Bill Stewart, brings his MountainAir offense into this rivalry game for the first time. It is an offense that has produced at least one game of 700 yards of total offense in five of six seasons in stops at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma St. and has averaged 521 yards per game.

Quarterback Geno Smith returns to run the high-octane offense of Hologorsen after leading the Big East in passing efficiency last season with a 144.7 QB rating while accumulating 2,763 yards through the air with 24 TDs and 7 INTs. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey will be two of Smith’s main targets, but there will be plenty of touches to go around in this offense. There has not been a starting running back named for the opener, and three true freshmen are expected to see playing time against Marshall including Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie and Trey Johnson. The Thundering Herd offense did not produce much thunder in 2010, ranking a woeful 103rd out of 120 FBS teams in total YPG with 315.6 and 101st in scoring offense with an average of 20.8 PPG. The running game was particularly anemic with an average of only 98.5 YPG on the ground. Despite their pitiful running game, the biggest question mark for Marshall is under center where second-year coach Doc Holliday has yet to pick a starter between sophomores A.J. Graham and Eddie Sullivan. The offensive line is also unsettled beyond returning starters at right guard and left tackle where C.J. Wood and Ryan Tilman return.

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Marshall vs. West Virginia St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

Marshall Thundering Herd +23
@ West Virginia Mountaineers -23

Game Total:

Over 55.5 (-110)
Under 55.5 (-110)

Betting odds taken from BetOnline.comClick here for $900 FREE

Marshall vs. West Virginia Pick:

The under is 11-5 in Marshall’s last 16 road games, and they are 16-34-2 ATS in their last 52 road games. The under is 6-2 in Wet Virginia’s last 8 games overall, and they are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. West Virginia won last season’s meeting 24-21 with the under coming in and failing to cover the 12 point spread. WVU has won the last five meetings since 2006 and all ten of their meetings overall, with the under coming in for the last three of those games.

The Mountaineers will put points on the board with Hologorsen calling the plays and an experienced and talented QB under center in Smith. The Thundering Herd however, do not have nearly as much firepower and the scoring in this one could be a one-sided affair. They oppose a Marshall defense that ranked 94th in the country in passing YPG allowed with an average of 240.5, and 74th in the nation in PPG allowed with 28.8. The WVU defense lost seven starters form a unit that was one of the best in the nation a year ago, allowing only 13.5 PPG and 263.5 YPG, both ranking 4th in the nation. They should be tough again though, and able to and hold Marshall in check. Take the under in this game as the trends both head-to-head and recently for both teams favors a low-scoring affair. Marshall will be a very weak team this season, and the scoring in this game will likely be one-sided in favor of the Mountaineers. Do not be surprised if the Thundering Herd fails to put the ball in the end zone against a WVU defense that was among the stingiest in the nation a year ago. Marshall simply has too many question marks on offense and without a solid option under center they will have a hard time putting points on the board

PICK = WVU -23

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