Marshall head football coach Doc Holliday knows a trap is waiting. His Thundering Herd football team has been walking around with a little extra bounce in their step this week after knocking off one of CUSA’s perennial big boys, Southern Miss 26-20 last Saturday.
This week, however, is a proverbial trap game, on the road to Athens, Ohio to take on the Ohio Bobcats. Here are some things that should concern Marshall this weekend.
1. FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK–In his first two games, Marshall freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato has given every indication that he is something "special" and could be the Herd’s next quarterback star. But, it is still early in his career and this is another type of road test in a different environment. The Bobcats stadium is small, but it will be sold out. Even the great young quarterbacks can have ups and downs on the road.
2. MAC PRIDE—Whenever teams from the Mid-American Conference get a chance to host teams from leagues that are "perceived" to be better than theirs, they tend to play their best. It is almost as if their manhood gets challenged and they try hard to make a statement for MAC football. Just ask teams such as Pitt, Wyoming, and others that have been upset in MAC stadiums in recent years.
3. SERIES HISTORY—Marshall has won the last six meetings in this series. But, the all-time series certainly favors Ohio. This is the 55th meeting between the two schools and the Bobcats lead the series 29-19-6.
4. BOBCAT EMOTION—-You get the feeling the Bobcats have been pointing to this game for a while. They felt as if they should have won the game a year ago when the Herd won 24-23.
5. FRANK SOLICH—Doc Holliday is looking for his 7th careeer win in his second year as a head coach. Ohio head coach Frank Solich has been around the block a little longer. He notched his 100th career win last weekend with a 30-3 win over Gardner-Webb. The former Nebraska head coach and long time Cornhuskers assistant has a career mark of 100-55 as a head coach.
6. PHYSICAL PLAY AND TOUGH MINDEDNESS—Solich’s teams at Ohio have been known for hard-nosed, blue collar, overachieving physical play and for being very tough-minded. Those qualites usually stand out even more when you play an emotional game at home. This is one of those games.
7. NIGHT GAME—My theory has always been that a noon kick-off on the road favors the road team. It gives them a chance. The fans usually come a little late and they are never as charged up as they are for games later in the day. This, however, is a night game. The advantage always goes to the home team at night. The home crowd is louder and more enthusiastic after tailgating all day. Plus, the road team sits around all day in a hotel. Visiting coaches hate night road games.