Appalachian State vs Marshall Odds & Picks: Why Herd Can Cover

Appalachian State vs Marshall Odds & Picks: Why Herd Can Cover article feature image

G Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Marshall quarterback Cam Fancher.

Appalachian State vs Marshall Odds

Saturday, Nov. 12
3:30 p.m. ET
Appalachian State Odds
-110o / -110u
Marshall Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Appalachian State heads to Marshall for the first Sun Belt meeting between these long-time FCS powerhouses and rivals.

Both teams are 5-4 and in the hunt for bowl eligibility, but both are eliminated from the chase for the Sun Belt East crown. These teams have had similar arcs to their seasons, with shocking road upsets in Week 2, but baffling losses in later weeks.

On the field, the teams could not be bigger opposites. Appalachian State brings a talented offense and a porous defense into Huntington, but Marshall has a legitimately great defense and a stagnant offense.

Adding even more intrigue is that this is the annual "75 game" for Marshall, where the university and community honor the 75 people who lost their lives in 1970 when the team plan tragically crashed.

Marshall is getting one point, will have emotion on its side and boasts the #11 defense in the country, according to SP+. Is that the play?

Appalachian State Mountaineers

What a strange season it's been for the Mountaineers.

After the madness in September and improbable wins, Shawn Clark’s outfit finds itself needing to win two of its final three games to reach bowl eligibility (the Mountaineers beat two FCS programs, so only one counts toward the six necessary wins to qualify for the postseason).

Appalachian State’s offense is 31st in SP+ and is well-balanced in that range.

Quarterback Chase Brice is having a fine season, but the powerhouse running back duo of Camerun Peoples and Nate Noel has been up and down all season. The pair has been remarkably inconsistent and have alternated between superstars, injured, ineffective and average in various games.

Against Marshall, they might look more like the ineffective runners that were held down by Coastal Carolina last week.

In recent weeks, the Herd's front seven have slowed down several Sun Belt rushing attacks. It will be critical for App State to find a ground game against this rough defense.

The key matchup will be on standard downs.

Marshall is one of the top defenses in the country in keeping teams unsuccessful on standard downs and forcing them into pass down scenarios, where they are top five in all metrics on pass down defense.

Marshall can be hit with big plays on early downs, as it's 128th in allowing standard down explosives. App State is only 52nd in the country in these scenarios, so it’s not a baked-in strength.

If it can break tendency and look for downfield passing plays on early downs, the Mountaineers can create chunk yardage and avoid playing into Marshall’s strengths.

On defense, App State won't be tested through the air. However, the run defense, which ranks 109th in EPA against the rush, will be challenged.

Running back Khalan Laborn is one of the best backs in the country and the Herd have been incorporating mobile quarterback Cam Fancher into the ground game more in recent weeks.

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Marshall Thundering Herd

Offense has been a slog for the Thundering Herd in 2022. Starting quarterback Henry Colombi — a transfer from Texas Tech — has been injured, and true freshman Cam Fancher has started three straight games in his place.

Fancher has struggled with interceptions, as one might expect from a freshman. Against Old Dominion last week, he ended two drives that were already inside the ODU 40-yard line by throwing picks.

But the Marshall staff has begun to rely on his mobility more, which adds a new dimension to the offense. In fact, 12 of Fancher’s 24 designed runs have come in the past two weeks.

This new element is a boon to star running back Khalan Laborn, the one bright spot on the Herd offense.

Laborn is a workhouse and is fourth in FBS with 1,200 yards this season. He has five different games where he has carried the ball 30 or more times and Marshall is 4-1 in those games. A steady diet of Laborn and Fancher will allow Marshall to control the ball and keep the App State offense off the field.

Marshall’s defense has been extraordinary this season. It is first overall in EPA/pass and second in EPA/rush. The Thundering Herd are first in Success Rate, fourth in Finishing Drives and second in creating Havoc. They can be had with explosive plays on early downs, though that is not really App State’s game.

App State doesn't really have great wide receivers, but they wouldn’t be a factor in this game anyway. Marshall has two lockdown cornerbacks with NFL bloodlines, Steven Gilmore and Micah Abraham — that’s Stephon’s brother and Donnie’s son, respectively.

With lockdown coverage, a fierce pass rush led by Owen Porter (10 sacks) can go to work.

Appalachian State vs Marshall Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Appalachian State and Marshall match up statistically:

Appalachian State Offense vs. Marshall Defense
Rush Success323
Line Yards2911
Pass Success511
Pass Blocking**437
Finishing Drives164
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Marshall Offense vs. Appalachian State Defense
Rush Success10241
Line Yards9622
Pass Success12364
Pass Blocking**6817
Finishing Drives12985
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling9321
PFF Coverage1129
SP+ Special Teams127107
Seconds per Play26.1 (59)25.7 (51)
Rush Rate55.4% (56)61.9% (14)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Appalachian State vs Marshall Betting Pick

The recipe for App State is clear — create a few explosive plays in early situations and avoid falling behind the sticks against this ferocious defense.

Marshall wants to hold the ball with Laborn and Fancher’s running ability, control game script and create scoring opportunities with its defense.

This game promises to be a humdinger. It was a storied rivalry for decades at the FCS level and they had a heated matchup last season. This is the first matchup as Sun Belt conference mates, the on-field clash of strengths is exciting and it’s the “75 Game” for the Herd.

I’ll take Marshall as a home underdog in a huge emotional spot. I trust the Thundering Herd are learning how to incorporate Fancher into the game plan, and I will ride with the best Group of Five defense in the land.

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