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Marshall turns focus to Bowling Green; Ali returns to practice for Herd

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — After its 26-21 win last Saturday at then-No. 8 Notre Dame, Marshall has become a hot topic in the world of college football.

While pleased with the landmark win for his program, Marshall head coach Charles Huff knows his team will face another challenge on the road Saturday against Bowling Green.

The 5 p.m. matchup at Doyt Perry Stadium and will be shown nationally on the NFL Network.

BGSU is coming off a frustrating 59-57 seven-overtime home loss to Eastern Kentucky. The Falcons opened the season on the West Coast, losing to UCLA 45-17.

Huff says he’s working to instill a game-by-game mentality in his squad.

“The Notre Dame win was a reward for hard work, but we have to reboot and get ready for a tough Bowling Green team,” Huff said. “We have to shake off the excitement and fanfare from last Saturday and get back to the process.”

Huff and his team got a big boost on Tuesday when preseason Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year Rasheen Ali returned to practice. Ali took three weeks away from the team for what MU officials said was a need to deal with some personal issues.

Marshall’s football account posted several pictures to Twitter from Tuesday’s practice that included Ali (No. 22 in the pictures below).

There’s still no word on when Ali will return to game action, but the sophomore back from Cleveland will be another weapon to an already strong Marshall offense. Khalan Laborn, currently the top tailback, has run for 265 yards and two touchdowns, including 31 carries for 163 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Fighting Irish.

“Our goal is to go out every week and perform at a high level,” Huff said. “It’s the coaches job to prepare the team for Bowling Green the same as they did for Notre Dame.

“You should never feel that you’ve arrived and you’ve got to do the same things every week because there are a lot of good teams on our schedule.”

Scot Loeffler is in his fourth season as BGSU’s head coach and has a 7-24 record with the Falcons.

Loeffler was blunt in assessing Saturday’s game, which marks Homecoming at Bowling Green.

“They’re fast and they’ve got more talent that we have,” Loeffler said. “They’ve used the transfer portal well and they’re a load in all three phases of the game.

“I’m not surprised that they beat Notre Dame and we’re going to have to play our best football to have a chance.”

This will be the 30th all-time meeting between the former Mid-American Conference rivals, with the Falcons holding a 21-8 series lead. Marshall has won five of the last eight meetings.

Marshall and Bowling Green last met on September 18, 2010 in northwest Ohio, with the result a 44-28 win for the Falcons.

Sensational Sun Belt

After the Sun Belt posted wins over the sixth and eighth-ranked teams last week, SBC commissioner Keith Gill has been in demand this week by national sports media.

In addition to Marshall’s victory at Notre Dame, Appalachian State posted a 17-14 victory at then-No. 6 Texas A&M. Additionally, Georgia Southern knocked off Nebraska 45-42, and Cornhuskers’ head coach Scott Frost was fired the next day.

“I give all the credit to our CEOs and ADs in terms of their vision for football and the investments that they’ve made in football,” Gill said. “It’s the plan that our CEOs have had for a long time in terms of how to grow football programs in this conference. It’s a really good approach to how they have built strong football programs. We’ve got great players here, we’ve got great programs who are undaunted going into storied places filled with winning tradition. They’re really committed to going out and making their own history and their own memories.”

ESPN is aiding in the hype for the Sun Belt by basing its popular College GameDay in Boone, North Carolina on Saturday prior to a league game between Appalachian State and Troy.

“It really is tremendous for us,” Gill said. “GameDay is going to be like a great infomercial to showcase Sun Belt football and two of our great universities in App State and Troy. The whole Sun Belt is going to be exposed for the quality institutions and quality football that we have. I can’t be more excited about that opportunity for our league, for our student-athletes and for our coaches.”

More Marshall on NFL Network

The NFL Network will now feature Marshall on its airwaves in consecutive weeks. The telecast on Saturday at Bowling Green had already been announced, but the network said on Monday that it will carry the Herd’s Sun Belt Conference opener on September 25 at Troy, a game that will start at 6 p.m.

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