Gameday, Part XII — So how long does it take to start a rivalry?

November 28, 2014 by Derek Redd

Apparently, it doesn’t even have to take a minute of actual game time.

Marshall and Western Kentucky had themselves a little scuffle right at midfield during warmups. Offsetting personal foul flags were tossed into the air. I’m sure that’ll ensure a calm and gentlemanly contest for 60 minutes. Considering the two teams are only a couple-hundred miles apart, this could be an entertaining feud in coming years.

I saw Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky in the press box earlier. We’ll see him here next week, too. The conference hasn’t announced it, but looking at the tiebreakers, there’s no reason the Herd won’t host either Louisiana Tech or Rice in the C-USA title game next week. Whether a “New Year’s Six” Bowl will be in play in that game will be decided today.

As I’ve said elsewhere, this WKU team is the spitting image of the 2012 Marshall team — scores a ton of points, gives up a ton of points. So I’ll figure there will be scoring, but Marshall will tally more than WKU. Not much else to be said here. Stick around below for some live discussion. Otherwise …

Happy Regular Season Finale, y’all.

Live Blog Senior Day for the Herd

 

 

Are there any C-USA title game ties left to break?

November 26, 2014 by Derek Redd

It remains a mystery as to where the Conference USA football championship game will take place, insomuch as the conference has yet to announce the game site. The participants are down to three. Marshall, the East Division champ, is a lock. The West Division comes down to Saturday’s game between Rice and Louisiana Tech, the winner taking the West.

But is the game site really a mystery? Let’s look at the conference’s tiebreaker scenarios and where the Herd fits into them:

1. Highest regular-season winning percentage based on overall C-USA play. – If Marshall wins Friday over Western Kentucky, it’ll finish the conference slate at 8-0. Both Rice and Louisiana Tech have a conference loss, so Marshall would host in that scenario.

2. If tied, head-to-head between tied teams. — If Marshall does happen to lose Friday, the Herd already owns the head-to-head edge over Rice through its 41-14 win over the Owls on Nov. 15. Marshall has not yet played Louisiana Tech, so if both are 7-1 in conference, we head to the next tiebreaker.

3. If still tied, the most recent College Football Playoff Selection Committee poll will be used if one team or both teams are ranked. — That most recent ranking would be the one that was released Tuesday, which had Marshall at No. 24 and neither Rice nor Louisiana Tech anywhere on the list. They’re not going to wait until next Tuesday’s poll, because the conference isn’t crazy enough to wait until Tuesday night to announce the site for a noon Saturday game. At least it shouldn’t be. So this tiebreaker falls in the Herd’s favor, too.

4. If still tied, highest average computer ranking (computed after eliminating the highest and lowest rankings; then averaging the four remaining rankings). — Based on the wording of the third tiebreaker, it shouldn’t even get to the fourth tiebreaker. But, for the sake of argument, let’s ask this question: How would an 11-1 Marshall fall below an 8-4 Louisiana Tech in the computer rankings?

I’m almost certain you won’t hear anything from the conference office about a game site until the weekend. But if you’re a Marshall fan, I think you can comfortably book a hotel room in Huntington for next Saturday.

Gameday, Part XI — Throwback Saturday

November 22, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

When you’re sitting in the open-air press box of a stadium that opened in 1927, what else can you call it?

Let’s start with who’s here and who’s not. Cody Carter is not, which isn’t good for kick coverage, which isn’t good since J.J. Nelson has taken three back for touchdowns this season. Antavis Rowe and Gary Thompson, who’s been out since leaving the ODU game with a leg injury, are here.

And here’s who else might be here — Holly Anderson from Grantland, Dan Wolken from USA Today, Ray Glier from the New York Times and Jon Solomon from CBSSports.com. Glier and Solomon are in the press box and already have talked to Marshall AD Mike Hamrick this morning. This is Anderson’s second Marshall game.  As much as this College Football Playoff stuff has driven Marshall fans to drink, it definitely has created some national interest in the Thundering Herd.

As for the game, let me make a note on the turf at Legion Field. I walked across it on my way to the press box. That’s gonna hurt like hell when someone gets tackled. It’s like playing football in a parking lot.

Make that an empty parking lot. Thirty minutes before kickoff and there’s barely a soul in this 70,000-plus-seat stadium. So this game will have the atmosphere of the surface of the moon. That didn’t help Marshall last time. Neither did letting UAB knock out a pair of 11-play, 80-yard scoring drives. But this team hasn’t had a problem bringing its own energy this season, so it’ll be interesting to see if that carries over to today.

That’s all from here for now. Stick around underneath for some live commentary. Otherwise …

Happy Last Road Game of the Season Day, y’all.

Live Blog Herd tries to stay perfect at UAB

Numberosity — UAB Week

November 21, 2014 by Derek Redd

This blog post is rated “S” for “Sweet Home, Alabama.” Though, in Marshall’s case it would be “Sweet Away, Alabama.” “Sweet Visit, Alabama?” Whatever.

Let’s dredge up some unpleasant memories, shall we?

2 — Total number of drives Marshall’s 2012 game at UAB that the Blazers went at least 11 plays for 80 yards.

11:44 — UAB’s time of possession in the fourth quarter in that game.

34:31 — UAB’s total time of possession in that game.

5.0 — UAB’s average yards per rush in that game.

196.9 — UAB’s rushing average this season.

115.7 — UAB RB Jordan Howard’s rushing average this season.

5 — Howard’s rank on UAB’s career rushing list with 2,038 yards. He’s a sophomore.

On the flip side …

142.0 — Average rushing total Marshall allows this season, third-best in C-USA, and the only major defensive category where the Herd isn’t ranked first in the conference.

3 — Kickoffs that UAB returner J.J. Nelson has taken back for touchdowns this season, the only player in the nation to do so.

40 — Touchbacks kicked by Marshall this season, seventh best in the FBS. Can’t score if you can’t return them.

10 — Seasons since UAB has been bowl eligible. The Blazers’ last bowl was the 2004 Hawai’i Bowl.

15 — Seasons since Marshall has gone at least 10-0. The 1999 team finished 13-0.

1 — Touchdown quarterback Rakeem Cato needs to become No. 2 in all of college football history in consecutive games with a touchdown pass. He’s tied with Holy Cross QB Dominic Randolph (FCS) with 42. The all-time leader is Central Washington’s Mike Reilly (D-II) with 46. He can tie that record if his streak lasts through Marshall’s bowl game.

And finally …

100 — Percentage of certainty that the curator of this blog will dine on barbecue this weekend. If ever there was a sure bet.

 

AP Voter Roundup, Week 13

November 20, 2014 by Derek Redd

The boys at CollegePollTracker.com once again do the heavy lifting for us. We’ll just hone in on the Marshall/Colorado State comparisons.

Overall record

Marshall: 10-0

Colorado State: 9-1

Ranking this week

Marshall: 18th

Colorado State: 22nd

Highest ranking

Marshall: 11th (Scott Nulph, Laramie (Wyo.) Boomerang)

Colorado State: 16th (Kellis Robinett, Wichita (Kan.) Eagle)

Where voters ranked them most

Marshall: 18th (8 voters)

Colorado State: 20th (12 voters)

Voters who left team off their ballots

Marshall: 5*

Colorado State: 5

Here’s why there’s an asterisk by the voters who left Marshall off their ballots. Bill Rabinowitz from the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio and Keith Sargeant from the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey said they both mistakenly omitted the Herd from their ballots. So, really, it would be three guys who purposefully left Marshall off their ballots.

 

Bowl Projection Roundup, Part 9

November 20, 2014 by Derek Redd

Here’s the lineup for this week …

Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com) — Peach Bowl vs. Georgia

Brett McMurphy (ESPN.com) — Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Rutgers; Go5 Pick — UCLA vs. Boise State in Fiesta Bowl

Mark Schlabach (ESPN.com) — Bahamas Bowl vs. Northern Illinois; Go5 Pick — UCLA vs. Boise State in Fiesta Bowl

Phil Steele — Peach Bowl vs. Ole Miss

USA Today — Peach Bowl vs. Ole Miss

Jason Kirk (SBNation) — Bahamas Bowl vs. Toledo; Go5 Pick — Boise State vs. Baylor in Cotton Bowl

Mike Huguenin (NFL.com) — Peach Bowl vs. Georgia

College Football News — Fiesta Bowl vs. Kansas State

Bill Bender (SportingNews.com) — Peach Bowl vs. Ole Miss

National Football Post — Peach Bowl vs. Georgia

Athlon — Peach Bowl vs. Georgia

There’s a growing belief that the Herd will face Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Bummer for Marshall, since that’s essentially a home game for the Bulldogs. Bummer for us because Todd Gurley is out for the season with an ACL tear and a Gurley-Devon Johnson showdown would’ve been pretty entertaining. Among the trio of holdouts — Schlabach, McMurphy and Kirk — they’ve all come to a consensus on who would beat out Marshall for the G05 spot — Boise State, who wins the Mountain West Mountain Division if it wins out, and has losses to Ole Miss and Air Force on its ledger.

Conference USA in Review, Week 12

November 19, 2014 by Derek Redd

This week’s non-conference record: 0-0

Overall non-conference record: 23-28

This week’s non-conference record vs. FBS teams: 0-0

Overall non-conference record vs. FBS teams: 16-26

This week’s record vs. Power 5 teams: 0-0

Overall record vs. Power 5 teams: 0-22

C-USA in the Polls: AP — Marshall (18) ; Coaches — Marshall (18)

Trending Up

UTEP — The Miners are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010 after beating North Texas this past Saturday. Have they done it by beating up on the tomato cans of the conference? Sure, but they became the conference’s fourth bowl-eligible team. It’ll take the triumphs where they can get them.

Marshall defense — The 180 yards they allowed to defending conference champ Rice were the least they’ve allowed to an FBS team since the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, when all Ohio could muster was 123 yards. The offense gets most of the headlines in Huntington. Quarterback Rakeem Cato now owns most of the school’s major career passing records. Running back Devon Johnson has been a yard-chewing revelation. But Marshall’s defense is as much a reason as any that the Thundering Herd already has clinched the East Division championship.

Trending Down

Middle Tennessee — The Blue Raiders blew an 18-point lead to Florida International to lose 38-28 and remain stuck on five wins for another week. MTSU has two more shots to get that sixth win for bowl eligibility — in Murfreesboro vs. FAU and at UTEP. The first game will be a lot easier to win than the second.

Southern Miss defense — The Golden Eagles let one of college football’s worst offenses, UTSA’s, drive 60 yards in 2:15 to kick a game winning field goal with two seconds left. USM has gotten better this season. It’s just not as good as they had hoped.

Redd’s C-USA Championship Prediction He’s Guaranteed to Get Partially Right — Louisiana Tech at Marshall

 

Gameday, Part X — How would you like your Rice?

November 15, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

Today is the day we get to see whether the Huntington-to-Texas/Texas-to-Huntington trip is still as deadly to the chances of the road team. No Texas team has ever beaten Marshall at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in 10 tries. Marshall has won just once in Texas, that wild overtime victory over the Owls.

It’s a bit chillier here in Huntington than it is in Houston, about 35 degrees here and 53 in Texas. But I don’t think it’s the weather that’s the main factor. Take it from a guy who’s done that trip twice in the past two years — you’re dragging when you get off that plane.

The Owls would rather they not drag at the start of this game. Marshall tends to gain strength as the game goes on. The Herd is outscoring opponents 104-24 in the third quarter this season, and 17 of those points game from Miami (Ohio) in Marshall’s season opener.

No surprises from Marshall as to who’s in street clothes today — Evan McKelvey (James Rouse is wearing his No. 31 today), Gary Thompson and Amoreto Curraj. Devon Johnson looks just fine on the far end of the field in RB drills. They’ll need him today, especially in pass protection, since Rice is the top sack producer in the conference by far.

That looks like everything for now. Stick around down below for live discussion of today’s game. Otherwise …

Happy Next-To-Last Home Game of the Season, y’all.

Live Blog Marshall vs. Rice

Numberosity — Rice Week

November 14, 2014 by Derek Redd

This blog post is rated “S” for “Snow? Really?”

6 — Consecutive games Rice has won heading into this weekend’s game.

2.8 — Average win total of those six teams as of today.

106 — Average FBS rank of those six teams in total offense. Four are ranked 102nd or worse.

101 — Average FBS rank of those six teams in scoring offense. Four are ranked 101st or worse.

2 — Marshall’s FBS rank in total offense.

2 — Marshall’s FBS rank in scoring offense.

1 — Total teams with at least six wins Marshall has faced this season … and that one is Rice.

3.2 — Average win total of Marshall’s first nine opponents as of today.

343 — Days since Rice beat Marshall 41-24 in the 2013 Conference USA Championship game.

6:55 — Minutes and seconds it took for the Owls to stake a 14-0 lead over the Herd in that game.

335 — Rushing yards Marshall gained last week against Southern Miss.

0 — Yards in that total that came from leading rusher Devon Johnson. He’ll be back this week.

And finally …

38 — The forecast temperature at kickoff Saturday. Bundle up, friends.

AP Voter Roundup, Week 12

November 13, 2014 by Derek Redd

From now on, we’ll just focus on Marshall and Colorado State. For the full analysis on the poll, check out the guys at CollegePollTracker.com.

Overall record

Marshall: 9-0

Colorado State: 9-1

Ranking this week

Marshall: 21st

Colorado State: 23rd

Highest ranking

Marshall: 13th (Rob Long, WJFK, Washington D.C.)

Colorado State: 16th (Kellis Robinett, Wichita (Kan.) Eagle)

Where voters ranked them most

Marshall: 20th (13 voters)

Colorado State: not ranked (19 voters)

Voters who left team off their ballots

Marshall: 8

Colorado State: 19

An interesting phenomenon this week, as Marshall beats Southern Miss 63-17 after going on a 63-3 run, and the number of voters leaving the Herd off their polls jumps from six to eight. I … kinda don’t get that. Meanwhile, the total voters leaving Colorado State off their ballots dropped from 32 to 19.