Two high-powered Group of 5 programs will meet under the Friday night lights
Marshall notched a blowout win over FCS opponent VMI — something the Thundering Herd were expected to do. Boise State — on the other hand — were the underdogs at Florida State. The Broncos overcame an 18-point deficit to log a high-profile win — one of the most talked-about games in Week 1.
The two teams will meet Friday night in Boise, and there's plenty on the line. Both have been touted all offseason as two of the most talented Group of 5 programs in the country. The winner of this game will be set up nicely for a run at the Group of 5's spot in the New Year's Six.
Marshall at Boise State
Kickoff: Friday, Sept. 6 at 9 p.m. ET
Spread: Boise State -11
When Marshall Has the Ball
Everything runs through quarterback Isaiah Green at quarterback for the Herd. He has the ability to be dangerous with his legs, but he also can just sit in the pocket and carve up defenses. He tossed four touchdown passes a week ago. That said, he'll need to scramble more this week, as Boise State is going to bring plenty of pressure. The Broncos logged four sacks last week against Florida State.
Boise can be thrown on. If Green has time, his favorite target is Corey Gammage — a sharp route-runner who specializes in finding the opening in the defense. Marshall will try to run the ball in order to settle the team down early. Last week, the Herd had five players rush for more than 30 yards. They have options in the run game.
When Boise State Has the Ball
Quarterback Hank Bachmeier exploded onto the national scene in the big win last weekend. Only a true freshman, he has the look of a guy who is going to be putting up big numbers for the Broncos for the better part of the next 3-4 years. He likes to spread the ball around, as eight Boise State receivers had multiple receptions against Florida State last weekend. If Marshall leaves a man open, Bachmeier will find him.
In addition to Bachmeier, it appears that head coach Bryan Harsin has found another in a long line of great Bronco running backs. Robert Mahone carried the ball 24 times for 142 yards and two scores last weekend. Look for Harsin to first spread out the Marshall defense by having Bachmeier throw it around early. Then he'll unleash Mahone on a defense that didn't see anything close to his sort of talent a week ago.
While this may be a matchup of two of the best Group of 5 teams in the land, at least on paper, Boise State is simply on another level as usual. The Broncos took Florida State's best shots for a half before settling in and dominating the Seminoles the rest of the way. Marshall simply doesn't have the manpower on either side of the ball to consistently respond to what Boise State brings to the table from a talent standpoint.
Look for Boise State to jump out to an early double-digit lead on the back of Bachmeier and the passing game. After that, Mahome will pound it out, shorten the game and secure a sound Bronco victory.
Prediction: Boise State 45, Marshall 20
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Top photo courtesy of broncosports.com)