Watch the Louisiana Tech vs. Marshall C-USA Championship: Game guide, TV schedule, streaming
Two of the nation’s most exciting offenses square off for the Conference USA title. Here’s how to see it.
Their undefeated season ended, the Marshall Thundering Herd turn to their second goal: A Conference USA championship. The only thing left in their way: Conference USA West champion Louisiana Tech. The two square off in Saturday’s championship game, played at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon ET, with television coverage on ESPN2.
Marshall won its first eleven games of the season before suffering a one-point overtime loss against Western Kentucky last Saturday. The Thundering Herd have one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, posting 575 yards of offense (first nationally) and nearly 47 points (second nationally) per game. Quarterback Rakeem Cato has thrown for more than 3,300 yards and 35 touchdowns this season, and junior running back Devon Johnson is averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
Louisiana Tech is playing for its first Conference USA title after joining the league for the 2013 season, but the Bulldogs are no pushover. Second-year coach Skip Holtz has returned Tech to the pass-happy system it used in the WAC under Sonny Dykes, and senior quarterback Cody Sokol, a transfer from Iowa, has thrown for 3,117 yards and 29 scores. After blowout early losses to Auburn and Oklahoma — and an inexplicable defeat against Northwestern State — the Bulldogs have won six of their last seven games by an average margin of 30 points.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game time: Noon ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Rankings and records: Marshall enters Saturday 11-1 (7-1) and unranked in the latest College Football Playoff poll. Louisiana Tech is 8-4 (7-1) and unranked.
Weather forecast: Forecasters are calling for a 30% chance of rain, with game time temperatures in the high 40s.
Two things at stake
First and foremost, both teams are playing for the Conference USA title. It’s Louisiana Tech’s first appearance in the Conference USA title game, though the Bulldogs did win the 2011 WAC championship. Marshall lost to Rice in last year’s conference title game. The Thundering Herd are also looking for their first CUSA title since joining the conference in 2005. They last won a conference championship in 2002, when they took the Mid-American Conference title.
Marshall also holds a chance of being the highest-ranked team from the “Group of Five” non-power conferences in the final College Football Playoff poll. The highest-ranked team from outside the Power 5 conferences earns an automatic bid to a New Years’ Day bowl. Currently, Marshall is trying to surpass Boise State, which is ranked 22nd in the CFP poll, while Marshall is unranked.
One big matchup
Devon Johnson (or Steward Butler) vs. Louisiana Tech’s run defense: While both teams are known for their offense, neither has been a pushover on defense. Both Louisiana Tech and Marshall are among the top 35 defenses nationally in yards allowed, and the Bulldogs’ run defense is particularly stout. Tech has allowed just 118 yards per game on the ground, which could mean tough sledding for Johnson.
The Doak Walker Award semifinalist was knocked out of the second quarter of the Thundering Herd’s loss to Western Kentucky, and Holliday said “he’s not in real good shape right now” after the game. If Johnson can’t play, his carries will likely fall to junior Steward Butler, who ran for 233 yards in his absence last week.
Both Marshall and Louisiana Tech are on the list of topics at Underdog Dynasty.