— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Louisiana Tech won’t be close to at full strength tonight for its important Conference USA matchup at Marshall.

The Bulldogs’ athletic department confirmed through a statement late Thursday that senior starting quarterback J’Mar Smith, junior wide receiver Adrian Hardy and senior linebacker James Jackson are suspended due to an athletic department policy violation.

The statement said that Smith and Hardy will also sit out next week’s game against UAB, while Jackson’s suspension is for one game.

Tech’s updated depth chart shows that redshirt freshman Aaron Allen will start at quarterback in place of Smith, while graduate transfer Malik Stanley will fill Hardy’s X-receiver spot.

Allen has thrown nine passes in four games for 114 yards and a touchdown along with an interception this season. He steps in for the experienced Smith, who leads the 17th ranked offense in college football, having recorded 2,483 passing yards and 14 touchdowns against four interceptions this season.

Tech has won eight straight games after dropping its season opener to Texas, while Marshall is on a four-game win streak.

The winner of tonight’s game controls its destinty to host the Conference USA title game on Dec. 7.

With news of the suspensions, Marshall is a 6-7 point favorite, up a few points from what it was earlier in the week.