Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL FOOTBALL ; `It's What You Live for'; Marshall Hopes to Make History vs. No. 3 Cards

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL FOOTBALL ; `It's What You Live for'; Marshall Hopes to Make History vs. No. 3 Cards

Article excerpt

LOUISVILLE AT MARSHALL When: 8 p.m. Saturday TV: CBS Sports Network Latest line: Louisville by 2

INSIDE: Game capsule 5B

HUNTINGTON - So what if nobody in the rest of the free world gives Marshall a chance to beat No. 3 Louisville? That's the attitude the Thundering Herd has to take Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Players can't merely say it; they must mean it.

It's tough to imagine anybody in a green uniform not being juiced up to play on this potentially historic night.

"It's what you live for. That's why you play. That's why you coach, said Bill Legg, MU's offensive coordinator.

And this game is why Marshall plays major-college football. It was way back in 2009 when MU and the U of L struck an agreement for a home-and-home series, with the Herd going to Louisville in 2011 and the Cardinals returning the trip in 2014.

At the time, the Cardinals were wobbling through an ill-fated three years under coach Steve Kragthorpe and they were members of the Big East for the forseeable future. Marshall and coach Mark Snyder were trying to break a string of five non-winning seasons.

In 2011, under second-year coach Doc Holliday, the Herd pulled off the 17-13 upset at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, driving second- year U of L coach Charlie Strong into a postgame meltdown. One year later, the Cardinals were 11-2 and back in the limelight, jumping into the next round of conference realignment.

The original 2014 date for the Huntington game could have been the "Power 5 test the Conference USA champion Herd never had. As officials explained it, the game was shifted to 2016 to help the Cardinals' scheduling transition into the Atlantic Coast Conference.

2016 has come full force, as the Cardinals may have their finest team ever. They're certainly coming off their finest day ever, a 63- 20 poleaxing of Florida State with ESPN's College GameDay in town, to boot.

From that standpoint, Marshall has hit the jackpot. After the third-ranked West Virginia team of Pat White and Steve Slaton scored a 48-23 victory over the Herd in 2007, one could reasonably have figured that was the last top-five team to ever come to Huntington.

With Saturday's game sold out, the stadium will be full and "striped, and with an 8 p.m. kickoff, fans will be ready to holler. But how will the home team, laid bare a week ago by a Mid-American Conference squad, be able to keep the noise going to, say, 8:15?

You could simply say "slow down Lamar Jackson, and that gets a nod, but can you do it? Now a Heisman Trophy candidate, he has shown over the past three weeks that he has put together a complete skill set at quarterback, one that can take over games.

"Slow down may mean keeping the score under 60, which none of Louisville's three opponents have been able to do. Marshall's defense, young at the corners and sent back to square one with a 65- 38 loss to Akron, can't do it alone. …

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