Memphis at Marshall, Saturday, 2 p.m.
• The Thundering Herd has won two straight games after opening its season 1-6. They beat UTEP at home on October 30th (16-12), then scored a season-high 31 points to win at UAB last week. (Marshall’s other victory came against Ohio on September 30th). Looking at common opponents between the Herd and Tigers, Marshall lost to Southern Miss by 25 (Memphis lost by 22), to East Carolina by 27 (Tigers by 22), and beat UTEP by 4 (Memphis lost by 3).
• Memphis and Marshall have played each season since the Herd joined C-USA in 2005. The Tigers won in 2005 and ’07 (both games in Memphis), while Marshall has won three times, including a 26-16 win last year at the Liberty Bowl. The only team on the Memphis schedule with a shorter history of competition is UTEP (four games to date).
• For the second straight week, Memphis will face a team with a first-year head coach, in Marshall’s case Doc Holliday.
• Quarterback Brian Anderson leads the Marshall offense, having passed for 1,668 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Anderson threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns in the win at UAB last week.
• Marshall is last in C-USA in rushing with an average of 100.8 yards per game (just under the 103.7 Memphis is averaging). Martin Ward leads the Herd with 304 yards on the ground. Greg Ray leads Tiger rushers with 557 yards, good for 8th in the conference.
• Saturday’s game will feature the top two tacklers in C-USA. The Tigers’ Jamon Hughes leads the way with 105 (though he only had four last week in limited action against Tennessee). Marshall’s Mario Harvey — like Hughes, a senior — has 102 tackles, including 4.5 sacks. The Herd’s Vinny Curry leads C-USA with 9.5 sacks.
• Marshall ranks 11th in C-USA in total offense (311.6 yards per game), ahead of only Memphis (283.7). The Herd has the league’s 6th-ranked defense (396.2 yards per game), while the Tiger D is last (477).
• The Tigers have not intercepted a pass in five straight games. The last Memphis pick was made by freshman Mohammed Seisay against UTEP on September 25th. Since forcing four turnovers in the team’s lone victory of the season (against Middle Tennessee on September 18th), the Tiger defense has forced only three over the last six games.
• With three games left in the 2010 season, the Tigers are in danger of matching a level of two-year futility not seen in more than 20 years. Memphis won only three games combined in 1985 and ’86 (coached those seasons by, respectively, Rey Dempsey and Charlie Bailey). In 1981 and ’82, under coach Rex Dockery, the Tigers went a combined 2-20. Memphis is 3-18 since the start of the 2009 season.