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How and what to watch for Rice vs. Marshall

Both teams are coming off long layoffs due to various COVID-19 issues

The Marshall Thundering Herd take the field prior to the college football game between the Florida Atlantic Owls and the Marshall Thundering Herd on October 24, 2020, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, WV. Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game day update: Rice starting quarterback Mike Collins, wide receiver and returner Austin Trammell, and linebacker Antonio Monterio will not be playing on Saturday, per Grant Taylor. JoVoni Johnson will make the start. He made his first career start last year against Marshall.

The 7-0 Marshall Thundering Herd haven’t played a game in three weeks, but that will finally end this weekend as they take on the 1-2 Rice Owls in West Virginia.

Though the C-USA season is nearly 8 weeks old, Rice has only played three games. The team has had to either push back, or cancel its last two games due to COVID-19 issues within their opponent’s programs. The sample size makes it tough to know too much, but we do know that they turn the ball over a lot. Six times in three outings, including two against North Texas the last time the team played.

Compare that to Marshall, who only have six turnovers in seven total games played. The team from H-Town has had a hard time rushing the ball, ranked 102nd in the nation in ground game effectiveness. The passing numbers are better at 18th, but the Marshall defense will be by far the best unit they’ve seen this season.

The Thundering Herd give up just 10 points per game on average and are the best FBS team in terms of limiting explosive plays from opposing offenses. They’ve kept every offense they’ve faced under 17 points. On offense Marshall is pretty good too, ranking 17th and 14th in efficiency in the air and the ground respectively. They’re an explosive team as well, averaging a pass of 16 or more yards on 17.5% of attempts. Freshman quarterback Grant Wells is having a fantastic season, throwing for nearly 1,700 yards, 16 scores and just four interceptions. Running back Brenden Knox has over 700 yards on the season too. Expect him to expose a Rice defense that gives up close to 200 yards rushing each game

Both teams in this one could come out and look nothing like their usual selves though. Neither team has seen game action in close to a month, so the first quarter or so of this one could be ugly as the teams try and get their footing.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Rice vs. Marshall on Saturday, December 5th at 12:00 p.m. ET on the ESPN+, or you can stream it via the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Rice vs. Marshall (-22.5)
Point Total: 45
Money line: Rice (+1300) vs. Marshall (-5000)

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Betting splits

Rice: (46% of handle, 10% percent of bets)
Marshall: (54% of handle, 90% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

The long layoff on this one makes it tough as neither team has played a game in over three weeks. On paper Marshall is by far the stronger team, and they’ll win the game. But will they cover? 23.5 is a big margin. They get close, but a rusty first quarter dooms the spread.

Pick: Rice +22.5

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