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Georgia State vs Marshall Odds, Picks: Why to Back the Herd

Georgia State vs Marshall Odds, Picks: Why to Back the Herd article feature image
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Greg Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Marshall quarterback Cam Fancher.

Georgia State vs Marshall Odds

Saturday, Nov. 26
12 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Georgia State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+5.5
-108
45.5
-104o / -118u
+184
Marshall Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-5.5
-114
45.5
-104o / -118u
-225
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Georgia State entered this season with high hopes, but its three-year bowl streak officially ended with its seventh loss last week. The Panthers had difficulties navigating the new and deeper Sun Belt, and their defense regressed in a major way this season.

They will wrap the 2022 campaign with a trip to Huntington to take on a Marshall team that’s playing its best football of the season. The Herd have a truly excellent defense — maybe the best in the entire Group of Five — and can reach an even better bowl to cap their memorable first season in the Sun Belt Conference.

Should you back the Herd as home favorites? Or is there another angle to find in the matchup? Let’s look at the numbers.


Georgia State Panthers

The 2022 campaign will be a season to forget for Georgia State.

The Panthers entered the year with one of the best returning production marks in the country — 12th in our TARP ratings — and riding a three-year bowl game streak. They finished the 2021 season on fire, winning seven of their final eight games.

The hot streak coincided with quarterback Darren Grainger earning the starting nod, and he returned as the face of the team’s high hopes.

But the Panthers could not protect leads — they held a second-half lead in six of their seven losses — and dropped inexplicable contests to bottom-tier FBS teams like Charlotte and UL-Monroe.

The defense, chock full of veteran contributors, dropped from 65th in SP+ in 2021 to 114th this year.

The Panthers prefer to run the ball, but the offensive line has been bitten by the injury bug, and the rotation up front is thin.

Running back Jamyest Williams — the “lightning” in the classic “thunder and lightning” backfield — has not played since October and is unlikely to suit up against Marshall.

The Panthers offense will have issues sustaining drives on Saturday. Marshall’s defense is No. 2 in the country in Success Rate Allowed and is equally balanced in preventing efficiency in both the run and the pass. Georgia State has struggled with efficiency, ranking 89th in Success Rate when passing and 98th when rushing.

Georgia State will not only struggle to sustain drives but also finish them.

Parker Fleming’s ECKEL metric measures how often teams create scoring opportunities and what they do with them. The Panthers are 78th in the country in creating ECKELs and 88th in points per ECKEL. This will be a tough matchup against Marshall’s suffocating defense, which is sixth in the country in ECKELs allowed and first overall in points allowed per ECKEL.

There’s one matchup Georgia State might be able to exploit: It can create big plays, ranking 27th in explosive rate, and Marshall’s aggressive defense can surrender big plays.

Georgia State’s defense has regressed from last season and is worse against the pass than the rush.

Its metrics for pass defense are mostly middle of the pack for FBS, but against the rush, the Panthers are 82nd in explosives allowed and 87th in Success Rate Allowed. This is bad news against a Marshall team that likes to run the ball and continues to get better in that area as the season progresses.

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Marshall Thundering Herd

The Thundering Herd scored a monumental upset in Week 2 of the season by knocking off Notre Dame in South Bend. They then hit a midseason swoon, struggling mightily on offense and dropping winnable ball games to Bowling Green, Troy and Louisiana.

Veteran quarterback Henry Colombi — the Texas Tech transfer — was injured and unable to finish consecutive games, eventually losing his job to freshman Cam Fancher.

Much like Grangier for Georgia State in 2021, Fancher’s insertion into the starting lineup has added a new dimension to the Marshall rushing attack.

Fancher has been prone to turnovers and inaccuracy, which is normal for a freshman quarterback. But his mobility has been a critical factor for Marshall, and he can extend plays and drives with his legs.

The Herd are on a three-game winning streak, and Fancher has rushed for 236 yards over those contests.

Running back Rasheen Ali — who posted 1,401 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2021 — returned to the field for the first time this season last week and compiled 79 yards on 16 carries.

Just like that, the Herd have one of the best backfields in the country; Khalan Laborn was a workhorse in Ali’s 10-game absence and ranks 10th in FBS in with 1,323 yards rushing.

With Fancher comfortably in the starting role, Ali at full health and Laborn fully integrated into the offense in his first year, Marshall has finally unlocked its full ground game potential.

The defense in Huntington is outstanding.

Marshall ranks first overall in EPA/Pass and fourth in EPA defending the rush. Future NFL cornerbacks Micah Abraham and Steven Gilmore are stars on the back end, but the front is ferocious as well.

The Herd sit 17th in FBS in generating Havoc and collectively rank 11th in PFF’s pass rush grades. Edge rusher Owen Porter (10 sacks, 23 hurries) could have a big game against this banged-up Georgia State line.


Georgia State vs Marshall Matchup Analysis

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

Georgia State Offense vs. Marshall Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 98 7
Line Yards 28 16
Pass Success 89 2
Pass Blocking** 80 11
Havoc 89 17
Finishing Drives 72 2
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Marshall Offense vs. Georgia State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 92 87
Line Yards 94 80
Pass Success 109 59
Pass Blocking** 48 7
Havoc 100 57
Finishing Drives 128 114
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 122 9
PFF Coverage 85 9
SP+ Special Teams 22 107
Seconds per Play 23.6 (15) 25.7 (47)
Rush Rate 66.4% (6) 61.6% (15)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Georgia State vs Marshall Betting Pick

Marshall is playing its best ball of the year, and the team has reached its full potential in November. This is one of the best defenses in FBS, and it will be looking to cap its first year in the Sun Belt with an 8-4 final record and a better bowl landing spot.

Georgia State is limping to the finish line in a disappointing campaign. Its offense will struggle to find consistent success, and its rush defense will have a tall task with Marshall’s fully realized two-headed monster in the backfield.

Even without the question of motivation, the Herd would be able to cover this number and win comfortably. And if Georgia State is deflated after the disappointing end to its season, it could be looking to just make this a quick and painless business trip.

I’ll take the Herd to cover at 5.5 and will play them to 7.

Pick: Marshall -5.5 (Play to -7)

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