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Marshall at Middle Tennessee: What bettors need to know

Marshall Thundering Herd at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (+8.5, 56.5)

The Marshall Thundering Herd have plenty of momentum following a dramatic come-from-behind win over Florida Atlantic, and get a struggling opponent next as they face the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Floyd Stadium Thursday night. The Thundering Herd rode Justin Haig's last-second 41-yard field goal to a 24-23 triumph over Florida Atlantic on Oct. 12. The Blue Raiders have lost three in a row and were thumped 34-7 at North Texas in their last game.

The Middle Tennessee offense has scuffled mightily since a 42-35 overtime win over Florida Atlantic, scoring just 34 points during its skid. That's a bad omen for a Blue Raiders team facing off against a Marshall defense that ranks 14th in the nation in points against per game (18.8). It's the first-ever meeting between the teams in Murfeesboro, and the first time they've faced off since Marshall prevailed 49-14 back on Nov. 26, 1994.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1

LINE: Marshall has held steady as an 8.5-point favorite, with the over/under set at 56.5.

WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the high-40s under partly cloudy skies. Wind will blow diagonally out of the northwest at 5 mph.

ABOUT MARSHALL (4-2, 2-0 Conference USA, 4-2 ATS): Marshall is wrapping up a bizarre scheduling quirk that has it playing just its third game in a 33-day stretch Thursday - with a 34-10 win over UTSA on Oct. 5 and the victory over Owls a week later representing its only game action since Sept. 21. The players admit it's good to have everyone rested but they're itching to hit the field. "Sometimes in practice, you'd see a bunch of (non-contact jerseys)," center Chris Jasperse told the Charleston Gazette. "Now, hey, let's go play. It's good for us to have everybody out there, ready to go."

ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (3-4, 1-2, 2-5 ATS): The Blue Raiders know that the Marshall offense revolves around standout quarterback Rakeem Cato, who has looked ordinary since a five-touchdown outburst in Marshall's season opener but is still one of the conference's top QBs. "He is a very dynamic player," Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill told the team's official website. "He can make every throw and he's got a great arm. He's just a phenomenal player." The Blue Raider defense has been impressive, ranking second in the nation with 20 takeaways.

TRENDS

* Marshall is 2-9-2 ATS in its last 13 road games against teams with losing home records.
* Middle Tennessee is 4-0 ATS in its last four games following a bye week.
* Over is 11-4 in the Thundering Herd's previous 15 conference games.
* Under is 5-1 in the Blue Raiders' last six games against teams with winning records.

EXTRA POINTS


1. Marshall has won both head-to-head meetings.

2. Cato has thrown four touchdown passes and four interceptions in three road games so far in 2013.

3. Senior QB Logan Kilgore is expected to get the start for Middle Tennessee despite being replaced by Austin Grammer against North Texas.

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