Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Florida International Panthers Betting Picks and Predictions

October 26, 2020

Date:Friday, October 30th
Time:7:00 PM ET
Network:CBS Sports
Venue:Riccardo Silva Stadium
Spread:Marshall -23.5
O/U:48.5

The 5-0 Marshall Thundering Herd will go on the road Friday night to face off with the 0-3 Florida International Panthers at 7:00 PM ET in Riccardo Silva Stadium. You can tune in on CBS Sports Network. The Thundering Herd are 23.5-point road favorites and we’re looking at a 46 over/under. It’s been a very different season for these two squads and their motivation going into this game might not be identical. Let’s dive into who will win this game and cover the spread. 

Trends

  • Marshall is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • Marshall is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games played on a Friday.
  • Florida International is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games.
  • Florida International is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against an opponent in the Conference USA conference.

When The Marshall Thundering Herd Have The Ball

The Thundering Herd are undefeated through five games and they’ve looked improved every single week. They beat a ranked Appalachian State team earlier in the season and are now ranked 19th in the country themselves. They run a balanced offensive attack and the defense has ranked top-20 in just about every measure. They’ll have a relatively easy matchup against FIU this week. 

The Thundering Herd are led by freshman Grant Wells. He’s completed 64% of his passes for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s thrown four interceptions on the year, so will have to be a bit more accurate moving forward. Still, he’s been dynamite as a freshman and has done a good job leading this offense through five games. He’s already shown the ability to make it happen in the clutch as well, so few questions remain to be answered. 

Junior HB Brenden Knox is the best player on this offense and they go as he goes. He’s rushed the ball 118 times for 556 yards and seven touchdowns in just five games. He’s complemented by Sheldon Evans and Knowledge McDaniel, who have each rushed for 100+ yards on the year. Wells isn’t bad on his feet, either, rushing for 87 yards and two scores. 

When Wells drops back, there is no shortage of talent at his disposal. Four different receivers have caught 10+ balls for 100+ yards with sophomore Broc Thompson (14 rec, 228 yds) and Corey Gammage (15 rec, 167 yds, TD) leading the way. Tight end Xavier Gaines (12 rec, 165 yds, TD) is a future NFL prospect and I would expect Wells to look way more and more in the red zone. 

When The Florida International Panthers Have The Ball

There aren’t a ton of positives to note about the Florida international Panthers football team. Through three games, they’ve been beaten by Liberty, Jacksonville State, and Middle Tennessee State. The Panthers were favored in two of those games and looked lifeless outside of a few rare occasions. They’ve turned to freshman Storm Norton, who has failed to impress with just 207 yards passing on a 53% completion rate. He will have to be far better against Marshall if they want to keep this game relatively close. 

The offense revolves around RB D’Vonte Price and the Panthers find a way to get the ball in his hands one way or another. Even with the Panthers trailing in every game, Price has rushed it 35 times for 303 yards and three scores. He’s averaging over eight yards per carry and doing with a not-so-great offensive line. Price is truly one of the best backs in the country and he’s just stuck on a bad team. While the game script sets up terribly for him once again, the Panthers will be sure to find ways to get the ball in his hands. 

Bryce Singleton and Nate Jefferson have combined for 12 catches and 152 yards. They have each scored, though neither has distanced himself from the rest of these pass-catchers. Tight end Sterling Palmer has five catches for 44 yards and he is a guy they should be utilizing a whole lot more in the Red Zone. The FIU Panthers have converted just 23% of their Red Zone looks into touchdowns, and a lot of that has to do with their inability to throw the ball into tight windows. With six-foot-six Palmer, the window is always a little bigger and Norton would be wise to look his way.

If FIU wants any shot at covering, the defense has to play better. They weren’t terrible against Jacksonville state, but that’s not an offense you want to measure yourself against. The Thundering Herd are dangerous and the Panthers must do a better job of getting into the backfield on both runs and passes. Grant Wells will pick the Panthers apart if given the time and Brenden Knox will run all over them. Marshall is a well-coached unit and the Panthers will have to match their intensity. 

Spread Prediction

The Pick: Marshall -23.5

The Thundering Herd are the far better team on both sides of the ball and I don’t see Florida International having much of any success. They’re coming off a 10-point performance against Jacksonville State and can’t figure out what to do at the QB position. It won’t get any easier in this game against a Thundering Herd defense that has taken it away seven times already this season. Marshall is undefeated through five games and have their sights set on the Conference championship. 

They have a ton of upperclassmen in the trenches and immense talent surrounding them on both sides of the ball. Freshman Grant Wells has not only been impressive, but he’s also doing a good job of getting five different receivers the ball. Brenden Knox is one of the best all-around backs in the country and he’s impossible to slow down for an entire four quarters. Jump on this line while it’s under 24 as my favorite of the Friday night slate. 

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Total Prediction

The Pick: Under 48.5
Final Score Prediction: Marshall 31, Florida International 10

This low total is fully due to the FIU Panthers being inept offensively. They started the season with Kaylan Wiggins, who was terrible in every way. They moved to Stone Norton under the helm a week ago and were beat by Jacksonville State. There doesn’t seem to be a right answer as this coaching staff has done a terrible job of making this offense mesh. I would be surprised if they score more than two touchdowns against a Marshall defense that forces pressure and doesn’t make anything easy.

Marshall will have success offensively, but they’re not a team to blow your doors off. They want to open things up with the run game and are comfortable winding the clock with a lead. Grant Wells has been excellent as a freshman, but he’s not a gunslinger that’s going to drop 400 yards on anybody. I like the under here and like it all the way down to 45. 

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