UAB vs Marshall Picks and Odds for Conference USA Championship

Grant Wells throwing

Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Grant Wells (8) drops back to pass during an NCAA football game against the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 in Huntington, W.VA. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
  • The UAB Blazers travel to Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd at 7:00 pm ET on Friday, Dec. 18th in the Conference USA Championship Game
  • Marshall has never lost a conference championship game inside Joan C. Edwards Stadium going 6-0, with the last being a 26-23 win over Louisiana Tech in 2014
  • See the odds, spread, and best bets below

The Marshall Thundering Herd haven’t played since December 5th due to COVID-19, when they were shutout by Rice 20-0. It was their first loss of the season.

UAB came from behind to beat that same Rice team on the road a week later, 21-16, to earn a birth in the Conference USA Championship Game.

The Thundering Herd have dominated the all-time series 8-2, and won the last meeting 23-18 in 2014. Marshall is favored by 4.5 points in this game.

UAB vs Marshall Conference USA Championship Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
UAB Blazers +4.5 (-114) +180 O 41.5 (-114)
Marshall Thundering Herd -4.5 (-108) -225 U 41.5 (-106)

Odds as of December 15th at FanDuel

UAB Plays Defense

UAB turned a 13-7 deficit at the half into a 21-16 win over the Rice Owls in Week 15. It was their first game since Halloween after COVID-19 concerns caused them to shut down their football program. The win catapulted the Blazers to their third straight division title.

Quarterback Tyler Johnston III led the way for UAB with 217 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Both touchdown passes came in the first five minutes of the third quarter. One was a 63 yarder to Myron Mitchell, and the other a 47 yard catch and run by Samario Rudolph.

Defense has been the Blazers’ calling card all season, and the unit led the way against Rice. The only touchdown they gave up to the Owls came at the end of the first half on a drive that was aided by a pass interference penalty as well as a roughing the passer call.

Rice was held to a dismal 232 total yards in the contest even though they held the ball for over 37 minutes.

2021 CFP National Championship Odds Tracker

Marshall is Reeling

Form is important in college football, and the Thundering Herd are clearly not at their best heading into the title game. They have only played one game since November 14th, and it was a beatdown at the hands of the lowly Owls. It was the first time Rice has shutout a ranked opponent on the road since 1960, when they did it to Texas.

Marshall’s quarterback Grant Wells had about as bad of a day as a signal caller could, throwing five interceptions. Wells had only thrown four picks all season heading into this matchup.

The Thundering Herd offense as a whole could only muster 245 total yards after coming into the game averaging 450 yards per contest.

The loss was exceptionally bad considering the fact that Rice was playing without their starting QB Mike Collins and wide receiver Austin Trammell. By kickoff, Marshall had swelled to 24.5 point favorites at most books.

Best Betting Angle

It will be cold in Huntington when this game kicks as the forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s. There should be no precipitation and very little wind, so offenses and kickers won’t be affected much. This is football weather.

The total is as low as they go in college football. What’s keeping this number so low is the fact that Marshall has the top ranked defense in the nation in yards per play at 4.0, and UAB is close behind at 4.5 – good for eleventh. That looks good on paper, but will it translate to keeping points off the board?

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We’ve seen UAB give up 31 points in regulation to Louisiana Tech and 24 to UL in their two games before the Rice win. Louisiana is 28th in the nation at 6.2 yards per play, and Louisiana Tech is 125th at 4.1.

The Marshall offense averages 5.8 yards per play. From where I am standing, it looks like the UAB numbers came from playing horrific offenses. That they just gave up 16 points to a Rice team without a starting quarterback and leading receiver is a red flag.

If Marshall can drive the scoring in this one, we will only need UAB to contribute minimally. The Thundering Herd have only played one team that can move the ball offensively and that was Appalachian State way back in September. App State had a receiver fumble the ball through the end zone and their kicker miss a chip shot in that one so the seven points given up is a mirage. It’s not hard to imagine UAB getting on the board multiple times in this one.

Pick: Over 41.5 (-110)

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