All in all, it was a pretty miserable night for Marshall this past Saturday. The football team followed up its best overall performance in the Southern Miss win with its worst overall performance in a drubbing by the University of Central Florida. The fans sat through rain and cold to watch the Herd struggle, and many had filed out of Joan C. Edwards Stadium before the final gun.
Here’s some food for thought as you get ready for this Saturday’s Memphis game … and hope that Hurricane Sandy doesn’t drop nine feet of snow — or an oak tree — on your front doorstep.
1) The only consistent thing about Marshall this season is its inconsistency. The Herd hasn’t put together two straight wins all season. The defense forces three turnovers, but gives up 568 yards to the Knights. Now, if history is any indication, that should mean a win this weekend against Memphis, but Herd players have admitted its frustrating they can’t solve the problem of their inconsistency.
2) There is one thing that has been consistent with Marshall — teams can run against the Herd. Five of the seven Football Bowl Subdivision teams Marshall has faced this year have rushed for at least 200 yards. A sixth FBS team, Ohio, ran for 199 yards. Effective running games lengthen drives and shorten games by keeping the clock running. I’d be stunned if any of Marshall’s final four opponents get pass-happy.
3) As crazy as it might sound, the road to bowl eligibility isn’t too rocky. Marshall needs three wins in its last four games. Memphis and UAB both are 1-7, and the one thing you can say about the Herd is it’s handled the lesser teams it’s played. That leaves Marshall needing to at least split the Houston and East Carolina games. No Texas-based team has won in Huntington, so if that streak holds, the Herd enters its final game in Greenville, N.C. already at six wins.
Now, if Houston snaps Texas schools’ oh-fer-Huntington like Marshall snapped its oh-fer-Texas streak this year versus Rice, the mood changes. Then it’s do-or-die in North Carolina. Would the Herd be up for that pressure?