The Marshall Thundering Herd will play against Division II opponent the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in an early-season tune-up on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. While Marshall was not exactly top dog last season, they did wrap up the year with a winning record of 8-5.
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels embark on the most difficult schedule in program history when they face the Marshall Thundering Herd to start the season Saturday.
The Ohio Valley Conference postponed football until next spring, and the Colonels opted out and will play an eight-game non-conference slate. New coach Walt Wells, a former EKU assistant, has talent to work with, and the Colonels are looking to build on a 7-5 season.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis for all levels of football since 2007, and he is a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player’s and coach’s perspective.
The football analyst was SportsLine’s No. 1 college football expert last season. Hunt went 116-79 on college football picks against the spread in 2019, returning a huge profit of $2,976 to his followers. He capped off the year with LSU -5.5 over Clemson in the national championship. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, Hunt has studied Marshall vs. EKU from every angle and has revealed his picks over at SportsLine. Here are the college football odds from William Hill and trends for EKU vs. Marshall.
Why Eastern Kentucky can cover
Hunt knows running back Alonzo Booth should be a strong replacement for Daryl McClesky, who led the OVC in rushing last season.
The 250-pound Booth will run behind essentially the same stout offensive line that helped him average 4.8 yards per carry on his way to 674 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019. Eastern Kentucky ranked 20th in FCS in rushing yards last season, putting up 205.5 per game, and the Colonels offense averaged 27.9 points.
Sophomore quarterback Parker McKinney returns after starting seven games in 2019, and he threw for 1,371 yards and seven touchdowns. Steven Crowder, who had 9.5 tackles for loss last season, will lead a front that remains solid despite the loss of OVC Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Patrick.
Cornerback Daulson Fitzpatrick is among the seven returning defensive starters, and he had two sacks and added three interceptions for a unit that forced 21 turnovers.
Why Marshall can cover
Hunt has seen the Thundering Herd’s running game in action, and Knox became just the second sophomore to win C-USA’s MVP honors. He rushed for 1,387 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the conference and ranking 16th in FCS. Knox will be running behind a line that returns four starters, and the Herd rushed for 193.4 yards per game last season. Marshall will be breaking in a new quarterback in Grant Wells, but he has a strong arm and solid targets.
Four of the top five wide receivers return from 2019, including Willie Johnson, who is a big play waiting to happen. He had just 13 receptions, but four went for touchdowns, and he averaged 26.8 yards per catch.
The Marshall defense is led by its secondary and linebacker Tavante Beckett, who led C-USA with 121 tackles. Micah Abraham, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the bowl game, and Nazeeh Johnson make up the best safety duo in C-USA.