HUNTINGTON, W.Va.— Rice head coach David Bailiff believes Marshall should be included in the same conversation with the likes of Texas A&M and Notre Dame.
The Owls faced the Aggies and Fighting Irish earlier this year and lost in similar fashion to the 24th and 18th ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings.
The rematch of last year’s Conference USA Championship game was supposed to be a close battle. Rice had won six in a row, was allowing fewer than three yards per rush in the six wins. The defense was only giving up 17 points a game over the course of the streak.
Yet, it turned into another Marshall blowout, as the Herd dispatched the Owls 41-14, rushing for 284 yards along the way. Devon Johnson averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
“We came here expecting to win. They out played us. We have played (Texas) A&M and we have played Notre Dame. Marshall is right up there with those guys,” Rice coach David Baliff said after the game. “They are explosive offensively and we couldn’t stop them.”
Marshall’s 581 yards of total offense were more than either Notre Dame (576) or Texas A&M (477) put up in wins over Rice.
More impressive was Marshall’s defense. The Herd allowed just 180 yards of total offense. The Herd’s Devon Johnson had more rushing yards, 199, than Rice’s entire offense. Compare that to Notre Dame, which allowed 367 yards to Rice and Texas A&M, which allowed 481 yards of total offense.
“I would put that defense right up there with Notre Dame and A&M,” insisted Bailiff. “They have a good solid defense that I don’t remember from a year ago.”
Notre Dame’s Everett Goldston threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns in the Fighting Irish’s 48-17 win over Rice, while Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill threw for 300 yards and four scores.
Rakeem Cato had 299 yards and four touchdowns Saturday night.
Rice wideout Taylor Jordan was forced to sit out games against Notre Dame and Texas A&M but echoed his coach’s assessment.
“I don’t see much of a difference at all. These guys are 21 in the country right now (in the Associated Press and Coaches’ Poll) and in my opinion should move up a little bit.”
Baliff expects to see the Herd in the top 25 Tuesday night when the Playoff Committee releases its new rankings this week.
“We came here expecting to win and we have a good football team. We didn’t play very well tonight, but Marshall is a good football team. They deserve to be ranked.”