Herd Football Key Matchup Breakdown


Tyler Kennett, Sports Editor

Appalachian State

Appalachian State is likely the Herd’s most anticipated opponent in all of the Sun Belt. For the past two years, Marshall has competed against the Mountaineers in games that made national headlines due to the animosity that the two fanbases have shared. For Marshall, App State was a win in 2020 that fueled the fire for being a ranked team for the large majority of the season. For App State, 2021 was a revenge game, defeating the Herd with a powerful run game in Head Coach Charles Huff’s first season as the leader for the Thundering Herd.

The Mountaineers have been battling with Louisiana for the Sun Belt Championship since the beginning of the Sun Belt Conference Championship game in 2018. Appalachian State has played in all three games, with the exception of a 2020 no contest due to COVID-19.

Appalachian State is more than just a rival for the Thundering Herd. Their powerful offense returns almost every weapon except for the receiving corps and an all-star center Baer Hunter. With a weakened receiving core, though it is still consistent, expect the Mountaineers to focus on the run. Camerun Peoples, who had three touchdowns against Marshall last season, returns alongside a three headed monster of a backfield that includes mutliple players averaging 5 yards per carry. Appalachian State is a perennial contender in the Sun Belt, a powerhouse that is here to stay.

Coastal Carolina 

Following a 2020 campaign that had Coastal Carolina competing against Louisiana for a Sun Belt championship, the Chanticleers found themselves proving to the college football world that Coastal Carolina is no joke. Winning the Sun Belt championship is the only thing missing for the Chanticleers. Both of CCU’s losses in 2021 combine for a margin of just 5 points, meaning that a single touchdown was separating this team from a potential undefeated run.

Star quarterback Grayson McCall returns this season following a decision that came as a bit of a surprise to past mock drafts. McCall was once heralded as a future NFL star, with mocks placing him as high as the ninth pick in 2022. While McCall will likely be drafted in 2023, he is no longer the prospect that many had him placed as, which may provide some comfort for Coastal Carolina. However, the leading receiver for McCall will be Braydon Bennett, a running back with only 24 receptions last year. No one else on the roster has 10, meaning that McCall will be forced into a leadership position with an extremely young core.

Coastal Carolina is a circle on the Herd’s schedule alongside App State and Louisiana as a team that could provide a spark if Marshall expects to win in the SBC early. However, with CCU’s team being stripped of many stars, the Chanticleers will also be looking for a few sparks to continue the recent success.


Who can stop the Ragin’ Cajuns? This has been the question for essentially every team in the Sun Belt since 2018. Louisiana has played in every championship in the SBC since the beginning of the Sun Belt championship game format and looks to continue the dominance.

However, this may be a little tough for Louisiana. The offensive line has holes, losing Max Mitchell to the NFL. Chris Smith, a former backup to NFL RB Elijah Mitchell, returns as a star running back that is used to picking up where others left off. The loss of Levi Lewis at Quarterback, though, will likely be the biggest hole for the offense. As a five-year starter, Lewis was a large part of so much of the Ragin’ Cajuns success. With his absence looming, it will be interesting to see who takes the helm for the offense in the fall.

Defensively, Louisiana nearly ranked in the top 10 of the entire NCAA as a total unit in 2021. Struggles come for mid-major programs that find that much success, though, as top tacklers transfered and other stars were drafted. Zi’Yon Hill will likely be a major contributor up front on the defensive line, attempting to keep the defense as a powerhouse in the NCAA.

Louisiana will have a major target on its back this season as a team that lost so many major pieces, but there is a reason that Louisiana has won two Sun Belt championships in three years. They are the team to beat.