Staff Predictions: Owls await monumental matchup against Marshall

FAU currently holds a 1-7 record against the Thundering Herd.


Eston Parker III

Evan Anderson (#8) and Jaylen Joyner (#0) walk on to the field against UTEP on Oct. 30, 2021.

FAU will complete the second game of its homestand as they face Marshall University on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m.

Coming off a 28-25 victory against UTEP that had some rough patches throughout the game, head coach Willie Taggart will have to smooth those issues out before having the team take on a rival with ambitions for the East Division title.

The University Press Sports Staff makes their choices after going 4-0 in their predictions of the last FAU home game against UTEP.


Richard Pereira – Sports Editor (6-2)

As FAU enters the final third of the regular season, taking control at the top of the East division has to be of utmost importance when it faces Marshall. Coincidentally, it will likely be the most difficult game for the Owls.

Escaping with the win against UTEP, FAU has to address the issues it had against the Miners, particularly with passing accuracy and defensive consistency.

While he didn’t particularly have a bad game, graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry had a 50% rate of completed passes out of 26 attempted. He’ll have to return to form with his passing game while the rushing offense continues to have solid production in large part thanks to sophomore running back Johnny Ford, who ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against UTEP.

With the indefinite loss of inside linebacker Caliph Brice due to an arm injury, the Owls’ defense must learn from its errors against UTEP and not repeat them against the Thundering Herd. When they were up 28-10 with 10:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, FAU allowed 15 straight points from the Miners as its defense seemed disorganized and fatigued. That cannot happen against a Marshall squad that is ranked 21st in the country in scoring offense, averaging 37 points per game.

Not only will FAU have to worry about running back Rasheen Ali, who is nationally ranked 19th in rushing yards per game, the team also has to keep tabs on wide receivers Corey Gammage, Shadeed Ahmed, Willie Johnson, and tight end Xavier Gaines as they all combined for 1,720 receiving yards and six touchdowns in eight games so far this season.

Even if Marshall continues being a nuisance on Saturday, this game is FAU’s best chance to show they have what it takes to separate themselves as one of the best in Conference USA.

Prediction: FAU 31, Marshall 27


Eston Parker III – Photo Editor (5-3)

The score against UTEP is not indicative of how the game truly was. While UTEP may have outgained FAU in almost every offensive category, with the exception of rushing yards, FAU’s defense again showed it can spearhead the Owls to victory.

This Saturday against Marshall, they will again have to come up strong to continue both FAU’s home winning streak and to have a chance of making an appearance in the C-USA title game.

Marshall is coming off a 38-0 destruction of FIU, and enters the game at exactly the same record as FAU (5-3, 3-1 C-USA). Freshman running back Rasheen Ali comes into the game as Marshall’s main offensive threat, averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 808 total rushing yards along with 16 total touchdowns. Alongside Ali, FAU’s secondary will have a tough challenge going up against Marshall’s talented receiving corps led by Corey Gammage, who currently has 588 receiving yards on 46 catches.

FAU’s defense will have to be aggressive again this week in terms of limiting the opposition’s run game and forcing turnovers. If they allow Marshall to get the upper hand offensively, especially early on, it could be a rough night for the Owls’ defense.

Offensively, FAU absolutely has to do better if they want to ensure a victory on Saturday night. It was mostly a frustrating night for the offense against UTEP, and had it not been for N’Kosi Perry’s ability to evade pressure he may have gone without throwing a crucial touchdown. Perry and his receivers need to establish rhythm against a confident Marshall defense rather than relying on Johnny Ford and the rushing attack to bail them out.

The Owls do have home-field advantage on their side, as they look to continue their winning streak which dates back to 2019 and head coach Willie Taggart will certainly want to continue his perfect record at home. This should be an exciting game, but by no means will this be easy for FAU. 

Both teams will likely have a strong night defensively. It will ultimately come down to which side has the more competent night on offense. FAU gets the edge in this one due to the game being in Boca, and because the offense will look to improve on what was a frustrating night against UTEP.

Prediction: FAU 20, Marshall 18


Bryce Totz – Staff Writer (6-2)

This will be FAU’s last test this season, as Marshall has dominated the Owls in years past, as they lead the all-time series 7-1. FAU’s only victory over the Thundering Herd was during the 2017 C-USA championship season. 

Although consistency and fundamentals are required, this game will be more relevant than ever if the Owls want a chance at the championship game.

FAU needs to convert on third downs and force more turnovers this week. Last week, they only converted on one third down. The offense was outplayed, only gaining 279 yards, as opposed to 436 by UTEP. The Miners also held the ball for 36:29. 

The defense may be able to force turnovers, as Wells is averaging one interception per game this season.

FAU will not beat Marshall on Saturday. The Thundering Herd know how to win football games. All three of their losses (East Carolina, Appalachian State, and MTSU) were by a combined 11 points in a span of three weeks. They have found their footing again though, as they are riding a three-game winning streak over C-USA teams. Over the last three weeks, Marshall has outscored opponents by 73. 

Unfortunately for the Owls, they will just not be able to score enough points. They scored just one touchdown per quarter against UTEP, who does not have the conference’s best defense. FAU’s defense will probably not be able to contain starting quarterback Grant Wells. Wells has 2,510 passing yards and 10 touchdowns through eight games.

Prediction: Marshall 28, FAU 10


Trey Avant – Staff Writer (5-3)

FAU will have its hands full against a Marshall team that is top 25 in the nation in scoring defense and has one of the best running backs in the country in freshman Rasheen Ali.

Marshall has the momentum in this game after the team shutout FIU last week to extend their winning streak to three games but FAU is on a two-game winning streak of their own and are undefeated at home this season.

The key for FAU is to force Marshall’s quarterback Grant Wells to make mistakes. Wells has thrown 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season so it would be smart for FAU to neutralize the short pass and force him into more difficult deep passes.

FAU’s run defense has been a disappointment this season and a matchup against Ali does not bode well for them. Ali has rushed for 808 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry needs to play almost perfectly against an incredibly stingy Marshall defense but that and the run game will likely be too much to overcome.

Prediction: Marshall 35, FAU 14

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet the staff:  Richard Pereira (@Rich26Pereira), Eston Parker III (@EstonParker), Bryce Totz (@brycetotz) Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3).