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Marshall will have the most wins in Conference USA

Handicapping Conference USA Football

Marshall was stuck in the 5-7 win range for quite a while before last year’s breakout season. The Thundering Herd went 10-4 in 2013. Marshall picked up a nice 31-20 win in a bowl game over Maryland (who is now a part of the Big Ten Conference).

Marshall Thundering Herd

College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
Win Total: 10.5
Odds to win Conference USA: -400
Odds to win BCS Championship: +40,000
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes

Marshall actually lost 41-24 against Rice in the Conference USA title game last year. They were favored in that game, but they came up short.

They’ll get another chance to win the conference in 2014, and I fully expect them to come home with the crown this time.

Reasons Marshall will win Conference USA:

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Lack of competition

I can’t start with any reason other than this one. Who else is going to win the conference? It’s extremely hard to find a team that will even be able to stick around with Marshall in the standings. Rice lost a lot in the offseason, and North Texas will be a much younger team this year as well.

UTSA might be the second best team in the conference, but they aren’t on Marshall’s regular season schedule because they are in the other side of the conference.

Rakeem Cato

Rakeem Cato is good enough to be mentioned as a serious Heisman Trophy candidate. Serious Heisman candidates don’t come around very often in Conference USA. Cato threw for 3,919 yards and nine interceptions last year. As strange as it sounds, it won’t surprise me if his numbers are even better this year.

Cato will put up video game type numbers as Marshall marches it up and down the field.
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Defense no longer a weakness

A couple years ago, Marshall was a team that had to outscore everyone. The Thundering Herd offense is as good as ever right now, but the defense has gone from poor to very good. Marshall’s defense is well-balanced against both the pass and the run.

Defensive tackle James Rouse is a great run stuffer in the middle of the defense. DJ Hunter should have a big year at the linebacker spot too.

-Easy Schedule- Marshall will likely be favored by a minimum of 14 points in every single game they play this year. The Thundering Herd’s toughest road game probably comes against Akron in September, but the Zips don’t have the firepower to stay with them. Inside the conference, it’s very hard to see anyone staying within ten points of this Marshall team.

Improving rushing game

Cato can do it all by himself if he needs to, but with Marshall’s improved running back situation, the team will be much stronger. The Thundering Herd were much better than 2012 running it last year.

I expect another jump in production from the running backs this season.

Prediction: 12-0

I don’t think Marshall will lose a game this year if Rakeem Cato stays healthy. This team is so much better than anyone else on their schedule. The Thundering Herd offense is a force that few teams from major conferences could stop, and there’s no one in Conference USA that can stop it.

The defense is catching up quickly as well. This team is scary good.

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