HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Marshall hoped it could get by and not have to submit running back Devon Johnson to an unnecessary beating on Saturday. Johnson was still nursing a knee injury he suffered in the win over FAU, in which he set a new single game rushing record with 272 yards.

Had Marshall been playing for a conference championship this past Saturday, Johnson would have played. But he didn’t need to. Not with the depth Marshall has in the backfield. The Herd rushed for 335 yards without Johnson in the line up, displaying depth in the backfield that most C-USA teams only dream of.

Steward Butler led Marshall with 118 yards on five carries and two touchdowns. Butler now has four touchdown runs of 30+ yards, including an 83-yard scoring run this past Saturday against Southern Miss.

Quarterback Rakeem Cato rushed for 104 yards, the second time this year he has eclipsed the century mark. Remi Watson had 17 carries and found the endzone three times.

Running backs coach Chris Barclay has a No. 3 running back that would be the feature back at any other C-USA school and as would the second string back. Marshall has fresh legs in the backfield in the third and fourth quarter while opposing defenses are wearing out.

And, there’s Cato.

It’s easy to see why Marshall’s offense has been so difficult to stop this year.

Southern Miss pumped up
In hindsight it is no wonder the Golden Eagles were psyched up at the start of Saturday’s game. It was homecoming and Southern Miss had an “us against the world” mentality. It also knew that it was going to onside kick if it got into the endzone on the opening series. And for the first ten minutes of the game it worked. But once Cato and company got the ball it was all but over.

Marshall is going to continue to get the best shot from opponents over the last three weeks. It would make UAB or Western Kentucky’s year to be the team that knocked off the Herd.

Steamed Rice
The last team Marshall lost to was Rice in the C-USA Championship game. It was certainly a contest to forget for the Herd. Conditions in Houston were less than ideal, nobody was in the stands and Marshall did not play up to its potential. Now, the Herd gets the Owls at Joan C. Edwards Stadium and will be looking for a bit of revenge.

Rice could actually help Marshall. The Owls come into Saturday’s game winners of six in a row and adds a quality opponent to Marshall’s schedule it has been sorely lacking for much of this season.

Obligatory rankings prediction
Marshall’s 63-17 win over Southern Miss certainly helped its case, but did the committee pay attention? Did it see that Marshall scored 63 points in three quarters? Will it take notice that Marshall beat Southern Miss more soundly in Hattiesburg that both Alabama (52-12) and Mississippi State (49-0), which played at home? Or does any of that matter?

Don’t be shocked if Marshall is left out of the top 25 this week, although thanks to a few losses by teams ranked 20-25 certainly helps.

A solid win over Rice this weekend will leave the committee scrambling for excuses to exclude Marshall next week.

bubble graphic

13

bubble graphic

Comments

  • jay zoom

    this team deserves to be in the top 25 regardless of the conference or their schedule. A lot of people here in Morgantown don't think so --- but if WVU was in the same boat as Marshall they would be singing a different tune on WVU"s behalf. DOC has done a fine job since coming to Marshall and I hope he is still there when they fire this loser we have in Morgantown. But I have reason to believe Doc is on the road to bigger and better things at the end of the season.

    • Aaron

      I normally do not reply to you Mr. Zoom for obvious reasons but with this post, I'm not sure what you mean? Do you mean if WVU were undefeated or if WVU played in a horrible conference noted more for their crochet teams than football and had a strength of schedule that ranked below several FCS schools?

      It is interesting that no non-power team has been ranked in the Playoff rankings. Personally, I think the committee is consciously leaving teams out until the Mountain West is settled. If Boise loses and Colorado State gets in the championship game, it will be easy for the committee to place a 1 loss MW team over an undefeated Marshall team. If Boise wins out including the MW conference championship game, it then becomes a question of whether their resume is more complete than Marshall's.

      I understand that there are certain areas that are out of Marshall's control but the question being ask by many is does items beyond the teams control justify receiving a bid to a bowl game simply for being undefeated? Or because they defeated far inferior teams handily? That will be for the committee to decide and unfortunately for Marshall and their fans, the committed seems to placing a strong emphasis on the strength of schedule. I’m sure Baylor would agree with Herd fans and say the emphasis is inordinate but thus far, the committee has been consistent if nothing else.

  • rick

    Another conference? Remember WE were the cupcake in CUSA. Doc has done a great job in bringing this team to where it is. I remember being the doormat of the Southern Conference and the MAC would not let us in. I was there in 1970 and will be a fan of whatever caliber team we put on the field. Great job Doc...and Go Herd

  • Slim McGoo

    I really DO feel bad for Marshall. This is a one-in-a-million group of talent for MU. I really believe it's a good team and may be capable of beating some top self teams. However, they sure picked a terrible time to play such a poor schedule. Tired of hearing that "it's not their fault...Louisville, UCF, ECU all left conference and blah, blah, blah." Hamrick know a long time ago and did nothing to boost the depleted schedule. The strongest teams on the docket were the 3 MAC teams! If this is the best CUSA can offer, get out! Better off going the BYU route!

  • Rob

    Please listen while the following BOLO (be on the lookout) is given. Marshall fan's are attempting to locate a suspect who frequently posts comments on this site. This person is so concerned with Marshall, that he seems to neglect his beloved Mountaineers and seems very focused on the success of the Thundering Herd. The suspect has not posted on this site since WVU's loss versus Texas and Marshall's thumping of Southern Miss. These two games will surely result in Marshall remaining in the top 25 while it spells WVU's departure from the top 25 and playoff ranking. Please contact Metro News' Marshall link and let any Herd fan know if you have located the suspect. The suspect was last seen at a pastry shop making frequent comments about "cupcakes" and ranting on and on about the Thundering Herd. The suspect goes by the name "Jabo" and knows nothing about college football. End of Acquisition.

  • joe

    GO HERD!!!!!!! The only ranked team in the great state of West Virginia.

  • Chris

    Article

    Marshall shouldn't be ranked in the playoff committee's top 25. Rice does have a winning record but hasn't beat a team this season with a winning record. They have played P5 teams and lost badly. Conference USA as a whole hasn't beaten a power conference team this season. MW conference has beaten several P5 conference teams and should be considered before any conference USA team. Plus MW conference teams have beaten teams with winning records who in turn have beaten teams with winning records. No team should be ranked in the playoff committee's top 25 unless they have beaten at least 1 power conference team or at least a team that is ranked in the top 50 in college football.

  • Time to move

    I hate seeing Rice, S Miss, OD...another conference would be ideal. Keep moving up.

    • Brett

      What conference do you suggest? Not that I disagree, but this is their first year dominating a conference. Who knows what next year holds with a new starting QB. I suspect AAC is only after TV areas and Huntington doesn't bring much to the table there.

      • Jason

        Yep, TV market is a huge factor in a lot of decisions, but if Marshall can consistently be competing for the New Years bowls (previous BCS bowls), that brings in a lot of $ to a conference as well. It takes time, Marshall needs to string together 4 years or so of playing at this level they are currently playing and the rest will take care of itself. Moving forward there will be power 5 schools on schcedule and there always has been previously, just this particular year has been an anomaly regarding the schedule. Bottom line, keep winning. Go herd.

        • An actual athlete

          Jason I agree with you, sustained success at one level generally leads to moving up a level. A couple more years with this level of play could bump you up into a more powerful conference. While that might be the aac otherwise known as the old big east, it would still be a jump. There is a change that in that same time frame that the power 5 decides to go to 16 team super conferences. This could be a big break and allow you to jump into a power 5 conference quickly. I think I have made my points diplomatically. If not please feel free to comment as you see fit.

          • Brett

            If the conferences continue to realign it will be hard to predict what would happen, but I just don't see them making it into the Power 5 without a trademark win and better out of conference schedule besides the MAC.

          • An actual athlete

            Chance* didn't proofread.