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C-USA Championship: Elite Defenses Square Off in Title Game

Marshall Thundering Herd defensive lineman Owen Porter (55) runs with the ball during an NCAA football game against Florida Atlantic on Oct. 24, 2020 in Huntington, W.VA.

Marshall (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) allowed the fewest points and yards per game in the nation this year, while UAB (5-3, 2-6) has held four of its last six opponents to 16 points or less. Marshall opened as a 5.5-point favorite in the first meeting between the teams since 2014.

C-USA Championship Game: UAB vs Marshall
  • Date/Time: December 18, 7 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Joan C. Edwards Stadium
  • TV Coverage: CBS Sports Network
  • Opening Odds: Marshall -5.5 | O/U 42 (Line History)
  • UAB vs Marshall Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Marshall has laid more than a touchdown in seven of its eight games this year and more than two touchdowns in six of those contests. However, UAB has been an underdog in just one of its last eight games against Conference USA opponents.

UAB News & Notes

To say the Blazers have had to overcome a lot to get here would be an understatement. Playing its first game in 42 days due to a multitude of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracings, UAB rallied from a 13-7 halftime deficit to beat Rice 21-16 last week and clinch its third straight C-USA division title.

Walk-on receiver Samario Rudolph’s first career catch gave UAB an eight-point lead midway through the third quarter and quarterback Tyler Johnston III made the most of his nine completions, throwing touchdown passes of 63 and 42 yards.

Despite playing without three safeties and three outside linebackers, UAB’s defense allowed just 232 total yards against Rice, limiting the Owls to 66 yards on the ground. The Blazers defense was 14th in the nation this year against the pass, allowing an average of just 180 yards per game.

UAB shouldn’t be intimidated by having to go into enemy territory for a conference championship game. The Blazers became the first road team in C-USA history to claim the title, winning 27-25 at Middle Tennessee State in 2018.

Marshall News & Notes

The Thundering Herd will be well-rested after having their regular-season finale canceled last week against Charlotte. Marshall players probably wanted to suit up in that game to wash the bad taste out of their mouths from their previous outing, a 20-0 loss as 24-point home favorites against Rice.

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Quarterback Grant Wells was intercepted five times in the defeat, which marked the first time Marshall had been shut out since 2000 and the first time at home since 1982.

The 20 points allowed was no fault of the Herd’s defense, however, as turnovers set up 14 of the Owls’ points. Prior to that, Marshall had allowed just 53 points in its previous four games and didn’t give up more than 17 points in any of its first seven.

The Thundering Herd lead the nation in total defense (253.9 yards allowed per game) and points allowed (11.4) while ranking second in rush defense (73.0). Defensive lineman Darius Hodge led Marshall’s stop unit with six sacks in eight games.

Marshall is hosting a C-USA title game for the first time since 2014, when it won its first and only conference title with a 26-23 victory over Louisiana Tech.

Betting Pick: UAB +5.5

Considering everything UAB has had to overcome to get to this point, I’ll gladly take the points with the underdog Blazers. Don’t be surprised if this low-scoring battle comes down to the final possession.

Shark Bites
  • UAB is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 road games.
  • The OVER is 10-4 in Marshall’s last 14 home games.
  • Marshall is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 home games vs UAB.