NCAA Free Pick: No 13 Virginia Tech vs Marshall Thundering Herd
Friday, September 23, 2011
by Frank Martin
For the first time in 71 years, Marshall Thundering Herd gets Virginia Tech Hokies in its own backyard. The No. 13 Hokies travel to Huntington, W.Va., seeking their first 4-0 start since 2006. Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas put together his best game of the season last week, passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-7 home victory over Arkansas State.
Everything went wrong for Marshall in a 44-7 blowout loss at Ohio last week. The Thundering Herd gave up 559 yards of total offense and committed six turnovers, including four interceptions by quarterback Rakeem Cato. A week earlier, Cato passed for three touchdowns in Marshall's 26-20 victory over Southern Mississippi.
The Virginia Tech Hokies lead the all-time series 8-2, winning the last matchup 52-10 in 2009. The last time Marshall beat Virginia Tech was in 1940, which also was the last time the Thundering Herd hosted the Hokies.
Virginia Tech Hokies (3-0): The Virginia Tech Hokies feel much better about their passing game now. Thomas completed 21 of 33 passes after connecting on just 43.6 percent of his attempts the first two weeks. Wide receiver Danny Coale hauled in a career-high seven passes for 128 yards last week as the Hokies found balance on offense. Running back David Wilson ranks seventh in rushing yards per game (129) and averages 6.2 yards per carry.
Marshall Thundering Herd (1-2): The Thundering Herd showed signs last week of getting their running game on track. Tron Martinez ran for 72 of the team's 172 rushing yards. But the turnovers short-circuited any chance Marshall had of staying with Ohio. The Thundering Herd rank 107th in scoring (15.3 points per game) and 91st in total defense, allowing 411.3 yards per contest.
1. The Hokies rank fourth nationally in rushing defense (55.3 yards per game) and eighth in total defense (224.7 yards per game).
2. Marshall has lost 12 games in a row against ranked teams since upsetting No. 6 Kansas State in 2003.
3. Virginia Tech is the only FBS school to win 10 or more games in each of the past seven seasons.
NCAA PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 41, Marshall 14 – The Hokies will pull away as Thomas builds on last week's success against one of the worst defenses in FBS.
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