Marshall vs. James Madison Odds & Picks: Dukes to Win Big?

Marshall vs. James Madison Odds & Picks: Dukes to Win Big? article feature image

Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Todd Centeio (James Madison)

  • Marshall and James Madison meet in a Saturday afternoon Sun belt matchup in Week 8.
  • The Dukes enter as double-digit favorites yet again, and that's where Dan Keegan sees betting value.
  • Check out Keegan's full betting preview and pick for Marshall vs. James Madison below.

Marshall vs. James Madison Odds

Saturday, Oct. 22
3:30 p.m. ET
Marshall Odds
-110o / -110u
James Madison Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Marshall heads to visit James Madison in a clash of two of the new Sun Belt entrants.

The Thundering Herd shocked the college football world in Week 2 by going to South Bend and scoring a huge upset win over the fabled Fighting Irish. It’s been all downhill since, as they lost their next three against FBS opponents.

James Madison has had an unbelievable start to its stint in FBS. The Dukes have run off wins in their first five games before a tough-luck shootout loss at Georgia Southern last week that knocked them out of the AP Top 25.

Can Marshall pick itself off the mat and get another FBS win, or at least finish close enough to cover? Or is it destined to get blown out by one of 2022’s Cinderellas?

Marshall Thundering Herd

Life was like a dream for Charles Huff and his Thundering Herd that day in South Bend.

It’s been a nightmare ever since.

The Herd are 3-3 on the season, but their only other wins outside of Notre Dame came against FCS schools Norfolk State and Gardner-Webb. They have been beaten by Bowling Green, Troy and Louisiana.

Marshall still has a solid defense, but its offense has absolutely cratered. The quarterback rotation of veteran Henry Colombi and freshman Cam Fancher has been extremely unproductive. The Marshall passing game has generated only 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns.

Colombi has been injured and unable to finish the last two games, and his status is up in the air for this week.

Fancher is green, but at least has mobility and can create some extra juice with his legs, something the sack-prone Colombi lacks.

Running back Khalan Laborn is a star. The former five-star recruit and Florida State transfer has blossomed in the lead back role, with incumbent Rasheen Ali’s continued absence from the lineup for undisclosed reasons.

Laborn is fifth in the country in rushing yards and has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every outing. However, the two tough Sun Belt defenses Laborn has faced (Troy and Louisiana) were able to hold him to 3.9 and 4.6 yards per carry, respectively.

JMU represents a similar test, as the Dukes have one of the best run defenses in the entire country. This is a poor matchup for the Herd.

Defenses know Laborn is the only threat to beat them and are able to sell out to stifle the ground game. The Herd scored seven and 13 points in those two aforementioned league games.

The Marshall defense is strong, ranking 32nd in the country in SP+. It sports an excellent pass rush and two really good cornerbacks with NFL bloodlines — Steven Gilmore, Stephon’s brother, and Micah Abraham, Donnie’s son.

Together, they make up a defense that is 23rd in EPA/Pass Allowed.

James Madison Dukes

The Dukes have burst onto the FBS scene and have become one of the darlings of the season. They earned a spot in the AP Top 25 before a chaotic game at Georgia State last week ended with the Dukes on the wrong side of the score.

The offense is led by Todd Centeio, the twice-transferred (Temple to Colorado State to JMU) veteran who makes big plays and extends drives with his mobility.

Centeio completes 64% of his attempts for 1,780 yards, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

Centeio’s production is bolstered by excellent skill position talent.

Running back Percy Agyei-Obese is a star. Despite missing some time in September, he has 460 yards on 6.4 yards per carry. Wide receiver Kris Thornton is 14th in the country in receiving yards with 642 at 17.4 yards per catch.

Their offense will be a poor matchup for Marshall’s defense. Marshall’s defense is 38th in drive efficiency in Beta_Rank, but 104th in Explosive Drives. It’s difficult to build long drives against the Herd, but they allow you to hit home runs.

James Madison is built to take advantage of this with a boom-or-bust style. The Dukes' offense is 125th in Drive Efficiency, but 22nd in Explosive Drives. They can live without what Marshall takes away, but they thrive creating big plays.

The Dukes' defense ranks first overall in EPA/Rush. The pass defense is less solid, but still solid, at 47th in EPA/Pass.

Georgia Southern was able to exploit JMU’s defense with a gunslinger in the pocket and three game-breaking wide receivers that created a ton of YAC. These are all weapons that Marshall does not have.

JMU ranks No. 1 in Havoc. It has 18 sacks on the year and 11 turnovers. Marshall’s offense is very poor at surrendering Havoc, ranking 113th.

Marshall vs. James Madison Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Marshall and James Madison match up statistically:

Marshall Offense vs. James Madison Defense
Rush Success471
Line Yards471
Pass Success11810
Pass Blocking**8343
Finishing Drives10763
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

James Madison Offense vs. Marshall Defense
Rush Success217
Line Yards248
Pass Success146
Pass Blocking**10421
Finishing Drives418
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2810
PFF Coverage2066
SP+ Special Teams7980
Seconds per Play26.3 (64)26.5 (69)
Rush Rate63.2% (14).0% ()
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Marshall vs. James Madison Betting Pick

Marshall’s incredible win over Notre Dame glosses over a team that is really struggling right now.

The Thundering Herd's strengths — efficient defense and a workhorse running back — plays exactly into James Madison’s hands. So, too, do their weaknesses — allowing big plays on defense and vulnerable to Havoc on offense.

James Madison will be able to create explosive plays, shut down Marshall’s one offensive strength and create Havoc plays.

I would consider taking the under on the Marshall team total, which I have already played at 19.5. But I just think this game is a simple match of strengths and weakness, and I like James Madison to cover the -12.

I would play it to -14.

Pick: James Madison -12 (Play to -14)

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