Sep 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd defensive back Micah Abraham (6) celebrates as he leaves the field after the Thundering Herd beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 26-21 at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall stuns No. 8 Notre Dame with late pick-six

Henry Colombi’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Devin Miller on third-and-goal vaulted the visiting Marshall Thundering Herd to a 26-21 upset of heavily favored No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday.

Khalan Laborn rushed for 163 yards and a score for Marshall (2-0), and Colombi completed 16 of 21 passes for 145 yards and the one touchdown. The scoring toss to Miller capped an 11-play, 94-yard drive with 5:16 left to play.

The Herd’s Steven Gilmore iced the win with a 37-yard interception return with 4:35 left to play, the second pick of the game thrown by Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner.

Backup quarterback Drew Pyne also threw an interception, this one to Owen Porter, as Notre Dame tried to stage a rally with three minutes left in the game.

The Irish had another chance to pull off a comeback after Bo Bauer blocked a punt with 1:56 to play, and they scored on Michael Mayer’s 5-yard reception from Pyne to trim the deficit to 26-21 with 14 seconds to play. Pyne was buried in the backfield before he could attempt a throw for the conversion.

Marshall recovered the onside kick to end the game.

The Fighting Irish, who were three-touchdown favorites, took a 13-12 lead on Buchner’s second 1-yard scoring run of the game with 14:57 left in the game. He then ran for the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 15-12.

Buchner threw for 201 yards on 18-of-32 passing, and also led Notre Dame’s struggling offense with 44 yards rushing.

Marshall led in total yardage (364-351) and Notre Dame had one more first down (22-21), the near equity showing the difference the turnovers made in the first meeting between the two schools.

Mayer led the Irish with eight receptions for 103 yards, including back-to-back receptions that set up Notre Dame’s first score, which came late in the second quarter. That touchdown also ended a run of 11 straight drives without points for the Irish, dating to last week’s loss to Ohio State.

The run ended when Buchner scored from a yard out with three minutes left for a 7-3 lead.

The Herd bounced back to take the lead in the closing seconds of the half, taking advantage of a facemask penalty against the Irish and going 74 yards on 12 plays, capped by Rece Verhoff’s 21-yard field goal for a 9-7 lead with 15 seconds left. Verhoff added a 20-yarder in the third quarter.

— Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman watches from the sideline during the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Notre Dame looks to finish strong against Marshall

After a recent history of blowout losses to elite teams, Notre Dame’s 21-10 defeat Saturday at No. 2 Ohio State showed that the Irish can at least hang with a national championship contender.

Saturday when No. 8 Notre Dame (0-1) faces Marshall (1-0) for the first time ever, the Irish look for a bounce-back victory in first-year head coach Marcus Freeman’s home debut.

“There’s no moral victories around here,” Freeman said of Notre Dame’s opening loss. “The expectation for us and this football program is to win every game we play, including playing the No. 2 team in the country.”

The biggest positive from Saturday was that the Irish kept the high-powered Buckeyes offense in check, limiting big plays. Ohio State gained 395 yards and needed a touchdown in the final five minutes to secure the outcome.

Freeman did acknowledge he was happy with how the Irish defended the run against Ohio State — until the fourth quarter when the Buckeyes gained 85 of their 172 yards on the ground.

“You look at the last drive of 95 yards and the execution, it was an accumulation of missed tackles,” Freeman said. “We have to be better. When a team says, ‘Hey, we’re going to run the ball and try to run the clock out,’ we got to be able to step up and get a stop.

“We have to win the fourth quarter. We have to learn to finish.”

Freeman also is looking for better finishing from his quarterback. In his first start, Tyler Buchner completed his first eight passes. But after that, he hit only 2 of his next 10 and finished with 177 yards.

The Irish managed just 76 yards on the ground. Help could be on the way as four-year starting offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson, who missed the Ohio State game, could return from the injured list. More success in the rushing game would help open passing routes for Buchner, who still got high marks from Freeman.

“We got ourselves a quarterback,” Freeman said. “There’s a strong belief in what he can do for this football program.”

On Saturday, Notre Dame takes on Marshall, which dominated its opener against Norfolk State, 55-3, rolling up a 612-114 yardage edge against the FCS squad.

The Thundering Herd lived up to its nickname behind Ethan Payne (10 carries, 113 yards) and Florida State transfer Khalan Laborn (12 carries, 102 yards), who scored two touchdowns apiece, while Texas Tech transfer Henry Colombi completed 24 of 26 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown.

“I challenged them all week to play 60 minutes of dominant football,” Marshall’s second-year coach Charles Huff said. “I thought it was a good start.”

It was an eventful offseason for the Thundering Herd, shifting from Conference USA to the Sun Belt, where Marshall is predicted to finish fourth out of seven teams in the league’s East Division.

Then came bad news last month when the school announced that running back Rasheen Ali, the nation’s leader in touchdowns last year (25), had taken a leave of absence with no timetable for his return.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA;  Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns wide receiver Dontae Fleming (17) slips on a pass against Marshall Thundering Herd during the first half of the 2021 New Orleans Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Louisiana rallies past Marshall in New Orleans Bowl

Levi Lewis produced 344 yards from scrimmage and threw a touchdown pass as No. 23 Louisiana came from behind to defeat Marshall 36-21 in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

Lewis completed 19 of 31 passes for 270 yards and ran 12 times for 74 yards as the Sun Belt Conference champion Ragin’ Cajuns (13-1) outscored the Thundering Herd 20-0 in the fourth quarter. They extended their school-record winning streak to 13.

Emani Bailey added two rushing touchdowns and 94 rushing yards as Louisiana won in former co-offensive coordinator Michael Desormeaux’s debut as head coach. He replaced Billy Napier after Napier was named head coach at Florida earlier this month.

Rasheen Ali rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Thundering Herd (7-6), which lost for the third time in four games.

Louisiana won for the fifth time in six appearances in the New Orleans Bowl while Marshall lost in its New Orleans Bowl debut.

On third-and-goal, Ali ran nine yards for a touchdown that gave Marshall a 21-16 lead at the end of the third period.

Bailey rushed four yards for a touchdown, but a two-point conversion failed, leaving Louisiana with a 22-21 lead with 8:20 left.

Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Montrell Johnson’s three-yard touchdown run increased the lead to 29-21 with 3:54 remaining. Bailey added a two-yard touchdown with 1:41 left.

On the first possession of the game, Lewis threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Kyren Lacy to complete a 13-play, 81-yard drive.

Nate Snyder kicked a 42-yard field goal on the Cajuns’ next possession for a 10-0 lead.

Ali broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

A 14-yard run by Ali gave the Herd their first lead, 14-10 early in the second quarter.

Snyder kicked a 25-yard field goal before Bralen Trahan’s interception of Grant Wells led to Snyder’s 24-yard field goal as time expired, giving Louisiana a 16-14 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd running back Rasheen Ali (22) celebrates with  tight end Devin Miller (83) and tight end Xavier Gaines (11) after scoring a first half touchdown against the Navy Midshipmen  at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall looks for 3-0 start against East Carolina

Marshall and East Carolina both had varying degrees of expectations for 2021. Yet only one is finding success early on this season.

The Thundering Herd can record their second straight 3-0 start by keeping the visiting Pirates winless on Saturday night in a nonconference meeting in Huntington, W.Va.

Marshall (2-0, 0-0 Conference USA) has successfully ushered in the Charles Huff coaching era by outscoring Navy and North Carolina Central 93-17. Quarterback Grant Wells has completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 680 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and Corey Gammage has already recorded 14 receptions over the first two games.

Defensively, the Herd held consecutive opponents to 10 or fewer points for the first time since the 1999 season. Yet, Huff has offered a certain amount of coach-speak in trying to keep his team focused. And poised to, at the very least, repeat as C-USA East Division champions and avoid a third consecutive bowl defeat.

“Don’t look at the results, it’s not about the results,” Huff said. “It’s about how we play. So, if we can continue to get better, play better, the results will take care of themselves.

“There’s a lot to get cleaned up, for sure … I have high expectations for this football team.”

East Carolina coach Mike Houston also has “pretty high expectations, internally,” for his program, which last enjoyed a winning season and reached a bowl game in 2014. However, the Pirates (0-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) are in danger of their first 0-3 start since 2017 after losing to Appalachian State and South Carolina by a combined 17 points.

ECU led 14-0 against the Gamecocks last weekend and held the visitors to 106 rushing yards, but ultimately lost 20-17 on a 36-yard South Carolina field goal as time expired.

“Those are the games that you’ve got to learn how to win,” Houston said. “If anything, I think everybody sees the kind of heart this bunch has. They’re going to fight. We’re going to show up (at Marshall). We’re going to play.”

Receiver Jsi Hatfield has been East Carolina’s big-play threat early on with five receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown. Three of the Pirates’ four touchdowns this season have been of 38 yards or more.

This will be the first meeting between the teams since Marshall’s 59-28 victory on Nov. 29, 2013.

Members of Marshall’s 1971 “Young Thundering Herd” team will be on hand in celebration of the program’s 50th anniversary of football following the 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of all players, coaches, staff and supporters on board.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Navy Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo looks on during the second half of the game against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Navy looks to hit ground running against Marshall

Navy hopes a revitalized rushing attack will get things moving in the right direction against visiting Marshall in a nonconference game on Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

The Midshipmen, whose success has long been rooted in running the ball in its triple-option attack, were slowed last year. Navy averaged just 177.7 yards on the ground, its lowest output since 1994.

Navy finished 52nd nationally in rushing, marking the first time in coach Ken Niumatalolo’s 13 seasons it didn’t finish in the top six. Navy averaged just 275.1 yards and 16.6 points per game, which both ranked among the bottom 10 in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Midshipmen’s inability to run the ball led to a 3-7 record, just their third losing season in the past 18 years.

Navy’s struggles to run the ball stemmed from inconsistent play at quarterback, a position that is still a work in progress with sophomores Xavier Arline and Tai Lavatai fighting for the spot. Arline made three starts and threw a dozen total passes as a freshman and became just the fifth freshman in program history to start against Army. Lavatai spent last year on the scout team.

“I think the competition has been good,” Niumatalolo told reporters. “It allows guys to — don’t settle, don’t get complacent.”

Navy returns 23 players — 10 on offense, 13 on defense — who started multiple games in 2020, which should help make last season’s losing record an anomaly. The defense, led by returning linebacker Diego Fagot, got better as the season progressed.

In its final three games of the season, all losses, Navy yielded 205 yards to Memphis, 296 to Tulsa and 162 to Army, marking the first time the Midshipmen held their opponents to under 300 yards total offense in three straight games since 1997.

Marshall was ranked as high as 15th nationally last year after starting 7-0 before ending the season on a three-game losing streak capped by dropping the Camellia Bowl to Buffalo, 17-10. But the Thundering Herd have reason to be optimistic this season.

Charles Huff will make his head coaching debut for Marshall on Saturday after spending the past two seasons as the running backs coach at Alabama.

Quarterback Grant Wells returns after a terrific freshman year in which he threw for 2,091 yards with 18 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He’s among nine returning starters on offense, which includes wide receiver Corey Gammage and All-Conference USA tight end Xavier Gaines.

The Thundering Herd return eight starters — led by linebackers Abraham Beauplan and Eli Neal — from a unit that led the nation in scoring defense (13.0 points per game) and was second in total defense (279.4 yards per game) a year ago. Marshall allowed more than 17 points just once last season — in a 22-13 loss to Alabama-Birmingham in the Conference USA title game.

Still, Huff is focused on playing disciplined against the Midshipmen, whose triple-option is hard to prepare for since few run it.

“You’re going to give the other team 75, 80, 100 yards, it’s going to be hard to win,” Huff told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “I don’t care if you’re the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ from back in the ’90s, you’ve got no shot.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 7, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Buffalo Bulls quarterback Kyle Vantrease (7) throws a pass during a warm up practice prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Buffalo 45-13. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo’s late score secures bowl win over Marshall

Kevin Marks’ 2-yard touchdown run with 1:09 left Friday enabled Buffalo to claim a 17-10 win over Marshall in the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.

The score capped a 13-play, 88-drive that ate up 6:18. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease played a key role, hitting on 5 of 6 passes for 60 yards, including a 12-yarder to Antonio Nunn that set up the Bulls (6-1) at the Thundering Herd 1.

Two plays later, Marks powered in against a defense that let him score in order to save time for the offense’s last gasp. It capped a 35-carry, 138-yard day for Marks against the nation’s second-ranked run defense. Vantrease completed 16 of 27 passes for 140 yards and an interception.

Marshall (7-3) nearly forced overtime, reaching the Buffalo 20 with 30 seconds left. But freshman quarterback Grant Wells was sacked for a 4-yard loss by Eric Black on 4th-and-11 from the 21-yard line with three seconds left to seal the outcome.

Wells hit on 13 of 20 passes for 114 yards, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Herd from ending the season with a three-game losing streak.

Neither offense got going in the first quarter, which wasn’t a surprise. Both played without their star running backs. Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson sat out with a knee injury, while Marshall’s Brenden Knox opted to forego the bowl game to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

But the Bulls put together a nice drive late in the first quarter and cashed it in just 3:17 into the second quarter as Vantrease kept a read option for a 1-yard touchdown. Buffalo made it 10-0 with 5:33 left in the half on Alex McNulty’s 25-yard field goal, the team’s first of the year.

After collecting just 37 yards on their first three possessions, the Thundering Herd finally responded just before halftime. They marched 75 yards on 12 plays, with Knowledge McDaniel powering in from the 2 with 42 seconds remaining to cut the Bulls’ edge to 10-7.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2018; Mobile, AL, United States; Buffalo Bulls running back Jaret Patterson (26) carries for a touchdown against the Troy Trojans during the first quarter in the 2018 Dollar General Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall, Buffalo look to rebound in Camellia Bowl

Marshall and Buffalo have experienced similar football seasons.

Both started with long winning streaks that thrust them into the Top 25 and led to dreams of playing in more lucrative bowl games.

However, the Thundering Herd and Bulls picked the wrong time to stumble, leading to their convergence at Montgomery, Ala., on Christmas Day in the Camellia Bowl.

Marshall (7-2) was ranked as high as 15th after jumping out to a 7-0 start behind a staunch defense and the poised play of freshman quarterback Grant Wells. But the defense slipped just a bit and Wells struggled with turnovers and inconsistency.

After tossing five interceptions in a shutout loss in the regular-season finale against Rice, Wells completed just 8 of 24 pass attempts in the Dec. 18 Conference USA title game. UAB held Marshall scoreless in the first half and earned a 22-13 victory.

“Offensively, we have to play with more confidence,” Thundering Herd coach Doc Holliday said. “We are not making the plays we were making before.”

Nor is the Marshall defense stopping others from making plays, as it had most of the year. UAB owned the ball for more than 41 minutes and finished with 468 total yards, collecting 21 first downs and rushing for 216 yards against the nation’s second-ranked run defense (88.9 yards per game).

Spencer Brown’s 149 yards ended the Herd’s streak of nine consecutive games without allowing 100 yards on the ground.

“We all know what we have to do, and we all know what happened,” Marshall linebacker Eli Neal said. “We all won as a team when we were winning and on our high horse and we lost as a team. That doesn’t make us any less of a team. The pieces just didn’t fall together.”

The Thundering Herd likely will build their bowl offense around running back Brenden Knox, who rushed for 887 yards in nine games and needs 148 to reach 3,000 for his career.

Buffalo went into the Mid-American Conference title game as a heavy favorite over Ball State after going 5-0 behind the sterling running of Jaret Patterson. But the Bulls coughed up 35 first-half points and couldn’t play catch-up in the second half of a 38-28 defeat to the Cardinals in Detroit.

Patterson, whose 301- and 409-yard games in consecutive weeks against Bowling Green and Kent State that put him on the periphery of the Heisman Trophy race, was held to 47 yards on 18 carries by Ball State. He also injured his right knee and was limited during the second half.

According to Bulls coach Lance Leipold, Patterson plans to play on Friday.

“We’ll see where it’s at, we’ll have to look at it,” Leipold said. “We’ll have to get to work on it and see where we’re at from an availability standpoint.”

Kyle Vantrease has been an efficient passer for the Bulls, hitting 63 percent of his passes for 1,186 yards with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions.

This will be the first time the teams have met since 2004, when Marshall was in the MAC. The Herd won that contest 48-14.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Grant Wells (8) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Marshall routs UMass, 51-10

Brenden Knox rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Grant Wells threw for 228 yards and three scores as unbeaten No. 16 Marshall routed the visiting Massachusetts Minutemen 51-10 in their nonconference matchup in Huntington, W.Va., on Saturday.

Knox had 105 yards by halftime, topping 100 for his fifth straight game, as Marshall improved to 6-0.

The Minutemen (0-2), an FBS independent, entered as 43.5-point underdogs and are trying to put together a season after initially canceling their slate of games. They lost to Georgia Southern 41-0 on Oct. 17.

UMass freshman quarterback Will Koch went 12 of 18 passing for 99 yards and a touchdown. Samuel Emilus caught six passes but only for 29 yards, including a touchdown. The Minutemen had only 41 yards rushing.

Marshall scored on five of its seven first-half possessions, capped by a six-play drive completed in only two minutes. Sheldon Evans’ 11-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds left before intermission extended the Herd’s lead to 31-10.

On its first possession of the second half, Marshall marched 80 yards on 11 plays, finishing it off on a 13-yard pass to Xavier Gaines. The failed conversion kept the lead at 37-10, but not for long.

Koch fumbled on UMass’ next possession after a hit by defensive lineman Jamare Edwards. It was the only turnover of the game. Two plays later, Wells and Gaines connected again, this time for a 16-yard score, pushing the lead to 44-10.

Marshall wasted little time getting on the board, needing only four plays to cover 75 yards on the game’s first possession. The last 45 of those yards came on a romp off the left side by Knox for a 7-0 lead just 1:32 into the game.

The Minutemen tied the score on their second possession, going 80 yards on six plays, helped mightily by a 37-yard pass from Koch to Taylor Edwards after a double-handoff. Koch’s 2-yard toss to Emilus gave UMass its first points of the season.

Artie Henry caught five passes for 71 yards, and Gaines had seven for 66 yards for Marshall, which piled up 495 yards in total offense to 190 for UMass. The Herd entered the game allowing 9.4 points and 265 yards per game.

The Herd (3-0 Conference USA) are scheduled to return to league action on Nov. 14 against visiting Middle Tennessee.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2020; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd running back Brenden Knox (20) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Marshall looks to keep rolling at winless FIU

Fresh off a fifth consecutive double-digit victory, No. 19 Marshall hits the road for the third time in four games when it takes on winless Florida International in Miami on Friday night.

The Thundering Herd (5-0, 3-0 Conference USA) got by Florida Atlantic 20-9 last weekend, holding an FBS foe to single digits for the second time this season. The Herd won 17-7 over visiting Appalachian State on Sept. 19.

“When a defense can hold a team to nine points, you’ve got a shot at winning,” coach Doc Holliday said. “We got to keep getting better. At the end of the day it’s a ‘W’. We’re happy where we are. We’re still right on track. The leadership on this team is as good as any team I’ve been a part of at Marshall or anywhere.”

Even with No. 1 receiver Broc Thompson sidelined with a foot injury, quarterback Grant Wells passed for 251 yards and two touchdowns and Brenden Knox posted his fourth consecutive triple-digit rushing game with 101 yards on 25 carries. Knox also had a 58-yard touchdown reception, taking a short pass in the flat to the house in the first quarter against FAU.

Holliday called it a “grind-it-out” victory.

“Defense played lights out again,” he said. “Just so pleased with our team to get that victory and go 5-and-0. We weren’t sure exactly what we were getting into. It was like a first game for us.”

FIU will be making its second consecutive Friday night appearance after losing 19-10 to an FCS team, Jacksonville State, at home last week. The Panthers (0-3, 0-1 C-USA) have been dealing with COVID-19 issues throughout the season after their opener was delayed to Sept. 26.

FIU lost that game 36-34 at Liberty and then lost 31-28 to visiting Middle Tennessee on Oct. 10 before their scheduled conference opener against Charlotte on Oct 17 was postponed.

Among sick or injured FIU players for the loss to Jacksonville State were left tackle D’Antne Demery, starting center Shane McGough, and running back Shaun Peterson. Peterson rushed for 117 yards in the loss to Middle Tennessee.

Veteran wide receivers Shemar Thornton and JJ Holloman and freshman Teddy Richardson also have missed time.

“Between injuries and coronavirus, we are down 24 players, and we probably lost more tonight,” coach Butch Davis said after last week’s setback. “It’s not like it’s just a sprained ankle. When you have guys having knee and shoulder surgeries, they’re not coming back.”

Davis also has been dealing with quarterback issues with a different starter for each game. Redshirt freshman Steve Norton, who started against Jacksonville State, has completed 17 of 32 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns for the season, and junior Kaylan Wiggins, the starter against Middle Tennessee, has completed only six of 19 attempts for 42 yards with an interception in two appearances.

Maryland transfer Max Bortenschlager, the opening game starter, has only three completions in nine attempts for 29 yards.

Combined, FIU’s quarterbacks are 26 of 60 for the season for 278 yards with three touchdowns against one interception.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2020; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd safety Derrek Pitts (1) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Marshall aims to remain unbeaten, faces FAU

While Marshall is off to its best start in six seasons, Florida Atlantic has barely gotten its collective feet off the ground during this unique and uncertain 2020 campaign.

The No. 22 Thundering Herd aim to go 5-0 when they host FAU in a Conference USA contest on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.

For the first time since 2014, Marshall (4-0, 2-0 in Conference USA) is undefeated through its first four games. It’s the Thundering Herd’s best start since going 11-0 in 2014. That season, the program went 13-1 and won its most recent Conference USA title.

“There’s so much love here,” safety Derrek Pitts told Marshall’s official website.

“Nobody is out for themselves. Everybody wants it for everybody else. I love competing, and this is a team that competes all of the time.”

The Herd can thank a strong defensive showing for their early success. They’ve allowed 38 total points while yielding an average of 272.8 yards. Marshall held Louisiana Tech to just seven total rushing yards and recorded six sacks in last weekend’s 35-17 road victory.

“We’ve had the opportunity to make teams one-dimensional,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “We’ve stopped the run and obviously got pressure on the quarterback.”

Offensively, Marshall is averaging 213.8 yards on the ground while scoring 37.3 points per contest. Running back Brenden Knox has rushed for 455 yards and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, quarterback Grant Wells threw two of his six touchdown passes this season against Louisiana Tech.

Knox ran for 220 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 36 seconds remaining, in last season’s 36-31 win at Florida Atlantic. The Thundering Herd are 6-1 all-time against FAU and will be looking for a third consecutive victory in this series.

COVID-19 issues inside the program and among its opponents have hindered FAU’s season thus far. The Owls have played just one game during the Willie Taggart era, winning 21-17 over league-foe Charlotte back on Oct. 3.

They enter this contest coming off an open week that has certainly left Taggart’s players itching to get back on the field. And, definitely eager to build on their initial victory that seems like a lifetime ago.

“It’s tough because we want to play so bad,” running back James Charles told Florida Atlantic’s official website. “We can only control what we can control. That’s our attitude.

“We have to keep having that drive. Which I know we will. … We know what we have to do. It is all about us. It has never been about the opponent.”

Paced by Charles, Larry McCammon III and quarterback Nick Tronti, the Owls totaled 217 rushing yards while rallying from a 10-0 hole to beat Charlotte. Tronti, who rushed for 94 of those yards, threw for two touchdown passes. Defensively, FAU held Charlotte to just 82 rushing yards.

“Keep pushing each other and keep having that same drive whether we have a game or not,” Charles added. “We know what’s at stake. We want to win a conference championship.”

–Field Level Media