Marshall Thundering Herd (2-1) @ Appalachian State Mountaineers (2-1) – Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, North Carolina
Friday 24th September 12.30am (UK)
Appalachian State 7 point favourites at the time of writing
Everyone’s favourite historical underdog meets one of 2020’s surprise packages as App State welcomes in Marshall.
Marshall’s 2020 season was going fantastically until the final three games of the year when they lost to Rice in their final regular season matchup, lost to UAB in the Conference USA title game and then ended their season with a third straight defeat with a loss in the Crampton Bowl to Buffalo.
Not a great way to end a season, especially since The Herd were unbeaten until that point.
The second on their seven wins was the reverse of this fixture as they hosted the Mountaineers in West Virginia, and got the better of their visitors in a 17-7 victory. App State was ranked 23rd in the nation at the time too so this was a decent scalp and one that set the season up really nicely at that point… Until it all ended on a little bit of a sour note.
This time around, Marshall has had a nice start to the season and currently sit 2-1 after big wins over Navy 49-7, and then North Carolina Central 44-10 before losing last week in a close one at home to East Carolina by a score of 38-42 – So one thing we can deduce from these games right off the bat is that The Thundering Herd has no problem in putting up points.
Marshall’s offense is built off a really solid ground game which is averaging 114.7 yards a game and has been the source of 9 out of the team’s 13 touchdowns so far this year.
The lead back is Rasheen Ali, a 6’0, 200lb back who is ably supported by Knowledge McDaniel, who is slightly shorter at 5’11 but also thicker at 211lbs and also returns kicks. Expect these two guys to see a lot of the ball and a lot of the touches when Marshall’s offense is on the field on Thursday night.
Defensively, The Herd have been bullies so far – They have accumulated 17 sacks and forced five fumbles, recovering three so far, so expect a tough night for the offensive line and ball carriers for App State too, as the QB and ball are hunted all game long.
The star of the defense is defensive back Steven Gilmore, Brother of New England Patriots Stephon Gilmore.
The younger Gilmore was one of my underrated guys when we were going through our Summer Scouting Series in preseason – He’s a tough tackler and he’s got coverage ability to lock guys down at the Group of 5 level. Gilmore already has one INT this season and he’ll be looking to add to that total against App State just like he did in the meeting between the two teams last season…
Flipping over to the hosts, App State bounced back last week by routing Elon, after a tough loss against Power-5 Miami the week previous.
This is a team who on their day can hang with all but the very top tier teams in college football; they always play tough and when they have lost under second-year HC Shawn Clark, it’s always been close.
App State was somewhat overshadowed in the Sun Belt Conference last year by Coastal Carolina and Louisiana, and whilst that looks like it could be the same again, doesn’t speak to the strength of the conference at the moment?
They don’t call it the Fun Belt for nothing!
Looking at their roster, The Mountaineers has an experienced offense with their top 3 receivers, starting tight end, quarterback and one starting lineman being Seniors, with the rest of the offense, including star running back, Camerun Peoples, being Redshirt Juniors, aside from right guard Isaiah Helms.
10 starters who are seasoned college football players on offense!
Which also makes for a well-oiled machine that can put up points on offense too; so this game could have a good amount of points and get this week’s college football action off to an explosive start!
For Appalachian State, the main man will once again be Peoples.
In the Myrtle Beach Bowl to end the 2020 season, he racked up 317 yards and 5 scores! The night of his career so far and with that fans and scouts were expecting a big year in 2021 from the Alabama native and he was duly placed on both the Maxwell and Doak Walker award watchlists – Not bad for a guy who was rated as a two-star prospect coming out of High School.
Peoples has also carried his form into the season as expected, averaging 6.5 yards a clip and having found the endzone on five occasions already this season, including this one against Miami a couple of weekends ago;
If he carries on, then the NFL could beckon and I would bet on him being a solid third day selection. However, he’s got to keep impressing, and that continues tonight against Marshall.
Follow Lee on Twitter – @Wakefield90