The Sun Belt Conference is on full display Saturday afternoon when the 3-3 Marshall Thundering Herd takes on the 5-1 James Madison Dukes.
Marshall enters Saturday hoping to shake a 23-13 home loss to Louisiana, while James Madison suffered its first loss, falling on the road to Georgia Southern. Who will win this Saturday's Sun Belt Conference tilt?
Find out in my free college football picks and predictions for this Week 8 showdown for Marshall vs. James Madison on October 22.
Marshall vs James Madison best odds
Marshall vs James Madison picks and predictions
James Madison will likely win this game, but my best bet is Marshall covering the 12.5 points.
The Thundering Herd have a well-rounded defense that makes life as miserable for their opponents as possible. They stymied a No. 8 ranked Notre Dame offense long enough to pull off a stunning 26-21 upset over the Fighting Irish in South Bend, and they’ll have a response to one of the top offenses in the country Saturday.
Dukes quarterback Todd Centeio is coming off his worst game of the season. The senior signal-caller threw for 468 yards with a pair of touchdowns before falling to host Georgia Southern, 45-38. Centeio also threw three picks and was sacked three times in that loss. He’s due up against a stout pass rush and playmaking secondary that can slow down this offense to a crawl, and that’s exactly what they’ll do on Saturday.
Marshall running back Khalan Laborn is having a big year with 851 rushing yards and 10 TDs. The Thundering Herd will use Laborn like a hammer and hopefully have enough sustained drives to keep the ball away from the Dukes’ potent offense. That won’t be easy against a defense allowing 37 rushing yards per game, but if anyone can make it happen, it’s Laborn.
QB Henry Colombi has been efficient, but he takes snaps behind a shaky offensive line while suffering 20 sacks. Defenses send the kitchen sink at Colombi, and that's where the sacks and the four interceptions come into play.
The Dukes defense got sizzled last week with 578 passing yards and four TDs. Colombi has a passer rating north of 146.0 in four of his six contests. He has a pair of wideouts in Corey Gammage and Caleb McMillan (questionable for Saturday) with big play capabilities. If the offensive line can keep Colombi upright long enough, the senior signal-caller could light up the James Madison secondary.
The Marshall defense will really set the tone for this contest, as its unit has stepped up all season. Centeio can’t feel very confident after last week, knowing the Thundering Herd defense is much better than what he’s faced all season.
Offensively, Laborn has to have a monster effort, and I expect the senior RB to do just that. That should open up the passing game for Colombi to make a play or two, as I expect Marshall to cover the spread.
My best bet: Marshall +12.5 (-110 at bet365)
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Marshall vs James Madison spread analysis
At one time or another this season, Marshall has been ranked as a Top 25 team in both offense and defense. The Thundering Herd are currently No. 21 in rushing yards per game and second in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game.
Marshall could easily be undefeated, as its three losses are by a combined 22 points. I’m not a mathematician, but that’s over half the oddsmakers’ numbers.
James Madison is 6th in the country in total offense and 11th in total defense. Those numbers are fantastic, but Marshall will be the most formidable team that the Dukes have faced on either side of the ball.
This season, Marshall has more takeaways (11) than giveaways (9). The Dukes' +2 turnover margin ranks 44th in the country.
Marshall vs James Madison Over/Under analysis
This contest opened at 55 points and has already moved down to 51.
The Thundering Herd defense has been stout all season. They’ve allowed 23 points or less in five of their six contests, and the 31 points allowed in their away loss to Bowling Green came the week after upsetting Notre Dame.
Time of possession will be crucial in determining Saturday’s outcome. If the defenses do what I believe they will, this game stays Under the total. The Over is 5-1-0 through the Dukes’ first six contests, while the Over is 1-5-0 over Marshall’s past six.
Marshall vs James Madison betting trend to know
The Thundering Herd are 5-0 ATS in their last five games as a road underdog of +10.5 or greater. Find more NCAA betting trends for Marshall vs. James Madison.
Marshall vs James Madison game info
|Location:||Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field, Harrisonburg, VA|
|Date:||Saturday, October 22, 2022|
|Kickoff:||3:30 p.m. ET|
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