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2018: Marshall 20 – WKU 17

Rivalry games are ugly and I suppose because this Marshall – WKU is a rivalry, we can excuse the turnover fest that was the game this past Saturday.

We learned a few things: Marshall WR Tyre Brady is a Destroyer of Worlds. He made QB Isaiah Green look slightly better than he played simply because he would catch things within his vicinity and get yards after the catch. The final TD looks like something on a QB résumé Game Winning TD Strike.

The reality is that the ball was slightly behind Brady and Tyre pulled it out of the defender’s grasp, turned up field and scored with blazing speed.

Honestly, this is not to denigrate Green, but he looks like a freshman QB trying to execute the offense: a little hesitant, and prone to mistakes. Not every interception was his fault, just like not all the good plays were his doing.

WKU is non-good, and picking off Steven Duncan is not a particularly amazing feat, but let us give the Marshall defense some credit. They did not get burned — until the final drive — by a mediocre offense.

Mike Sanford’s Hilltopper team is very young, and that will be the case for a few years. That means there are more of these kinds of games in the future. CUSA is not a buzzsaw of great teams, so the learning curve is less steep than in other conferences.

Remember Mason Fine won CUSA Offensive Player of the Year in his sophomore season after putting up a very freshman first year.

Marshall is going to be limited by how good Isaiah Green is on a given night. The East defenses are not so ferocious this season — at least the ones on the Marshall schedule — and so there is a good chance that the Herd are in the running for the division title.

This week’s game against Middle Tennessee is big, but only for sorting out the East. Middle beat FAU but we do not know what to make of that. Are they the team that came back from double-digits or the team that went down and required some 4th down conversions to do so? The answer is that they are both and that does not give anyone any confidence.

Meanwhile WKU is 1-4 and has a stat-padding game against Charlotte. The youth is the excuse but there is plenty of skepticism among league observers. Competing with Louisville before losing 20-17 and then turning the ball over late to lose to Marshall 20-17 is the sign of youth: The lack of consistency.

Maybe we should buy what Sanford is selling. It largely does ot matter, as the Toppers probably only have two games of their remaining seven where they will be definite favorites (Charlote and UTEP).

Old Dominion looks good again, and the rest of the teams on the schedule do not implode as often even when leading.

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