The Eastern Kentucky Colonels embark on the most difficult schedule in program history when they face the Marshall Thundering Herd to start the season Saturday. The Ohio Valley Conference postponed football until next spring, and the Colonels opted out and will play an eight-game non-conference slate. New coach Walt Wells, a former EKU assistant, has talent to work with, and the Colonels are looking to build on a 7-5 season.
The Herd (8-5, 6-2 in Conference USA) rely heavily on the 2019 C-USA Player of the Year, running back Brenden Knox. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W. Va. Marshall is the 23.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 54 in the latest Marshall vs. Eastern Kentucky odds from William Hill. Before making your Eastern Kentucky vs. Marshall picks, be sure to see the college football predictions from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis for all levels of football since 2007, and he is a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player’s and coach’s perspective.
The football analyst was SportsLine’s No. 1 college football expert last season. Hunt went 116-79 on college football picks against the spread in 2019, returning a huge profit of $2,976 to his followers. He capped off the year with LSU -5.5 over Clemson in the national championship. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
- Marshall vs. Eastern Kentucky spread: Thundering Herd -23.5
- Marshal vs. Eastern Kentucky over-under: 54
- Marshall vs. Eastern Kentucky money line: Marshall -3500, EKU +1400
- EKU: RB Alonzo Booth topped 50 yards in six games in 2019 and went over 100 twice.
- MARSH: The Thundering Herd are 19-0 when scoring 28 points or more over the last three seasons.
Why Eastern Kentucky can cover
Hunt knows running back Alonzo Booth should be a strong replacement for Daryl McClesky, who led the OVC in rushing last season. The 250-pound Booth will run behind essentially the same stout offensive line that helped him average 4.8 yards per carry on his way to 674 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019. Eastern Kentucky ranked 20th in FCS in rushing yards last season, putting up 205.5 per game, and the Colonels offense averaged 27.9 points.
Sophomore quarterback Parker McKinney returns after starting seven games in 2019, and he threw for 1,371 yards and seven touchdowns. Steven Crowder, who had 9.5 tackles for loss last season, will lead a front that remains solid despite the loss of OVC Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Patrick. Cornerback Daulson Fitzpatrick is among the seven returning defensive starters, and he had two sacks and added three interceptions for a unit that forced 21 turnovers.
Why Marshall can cover
Hunt has seen the Thundering Herd’s running game in action, and Knox became just the second sophomore to win C-USA’s MVP honors. He rushed for 1,387 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the conference and ranking 16th in FCS. Knox will be running behind a line that returns four starters, and the Herd rushed for 193.4 yards per game last season. Marshall will be breaking in a new quarterback in Grant Wells, but he has a strong arm and solid targets.
Four of the top five wide receivers return from 2019, including Willie Johnson, who is a big play waiting to happen. He had just 13 receptions, but four went for touchdowns, and he averaged 26.8 yards per catch. The Marshall defense is led by its secondary and linebacker Tavante Beckett, who led C-USA with 121 tackles. Micah Abraham, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the bowl game, and Nazeeh Johnson make up the best safety duo in C-USA.
How to make Marshall vs. Eastern Kentucky picks
Hunt is leaning over on the total, and he’s also found a critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins EKU vs. Marshall? And which critical x-factor has Hunt jumping all over one side of the spread? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Marshall vs. EKU spread to jump on Saturday, all from the expert who was up almost $3,000 last season on college football picks, and find out.