UCF and Marshall first met in 2002 in a conference game in the MAC. Both left the MAC Conference to join a rebuilt C-USA for the 2005 season. Saturday Night, the Knights and the Herd will meet for the last time as conference opponents since the Knights will leave C-USA for the Big East next year. UCF has a 7-3 overall record against Marshall. They have won seven-straight games dating back to the Knights C-USA debut in 2005 against the Herd. During UCF’s debut they ended a 17 game losing streak with a 23-13 win over Marshall at the Citrus Bowl and knocked off the Herd in the process. That game was UCF Football head coach George O’Leary first win at UCF and it can be referred as one of the most memorable moments in program history.
O’Leary on Marshall Game:[audio:1080/OLeary_1.MP3|titles= George O’Leary on Marshall Rivalry]
UCF and Marshall have had some memorable games but none have had as much on the line or emotion as Saturday’s game. Many believe the winner will win the C-USA Eastern Division title and play in the conference title game.
Emotions will be running high as some of the Marshall players have commented to newspapers in Huntington accusing UCF of not “Respecting” them. “No, I don’t,” Marshall captain and defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said about if he feels UCF respects them. “They feel like they can do whatever on us, and that’s fine.”
Marshall fans do not like UCF either. “If we could put up a sign and say we are hosting tryouts this week for people who want to beat up UCF guys, you know, I think the whole city would come,” said Marshall defensive end Alex Bazzie.
Then there is the media like Chuck Landon of the Huntington- Herald Dispatch who has being stirring things up with very negative articles on UCF program. His articles date back to the summer and they have continued this week taking cheap shots at the program, the Athletic Department, and the Knights fans. Landon’s columns can be easily found through Google. Googling his articles takes longer than Landon does researching facts in his columns.
Moving back to where it matters, on the field. It’s a matchup of Marshall No.1 ranked offense in C-USA against the Knights number one ranked defense in C-USA.
Points Per Game
UCF Defense Allowed 22.0 (1st in CUSA)
Marshall Offense averaging 43.1 (1st in CUSA)
UCF Defense Allowing Average of 200 ypg (1st in CUSA)
Marshall Offense averaging 390 ypg. (1st in CUSA)
UCF Defense Allowing 352.9 ypg (1st in CUSA)
Marshall Offense Averaging 568.4 ypg (1st in CUSA)
The Thundering Herd offense is led by sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato who ranks first in the nation in passing (35.57 completions per game) and passing yards per game (378.71), and second in total offense (384.86). Cato is from Miami Central High School where he followed UCF Knight Jeff Godfrey and led Central to State Championship.
O’Leary on Marshall Offense:[audio:1080/OLeary_4.MP3|titles= George O’Leary on Marshall Offense]
A couple of the keys to the game will be UCF’s running game and keeping Cato and the Herd’s offense off the field. Knights running back Latavius Murray coming off big game in the win over Memphis is expected to carry the load as O’Leary said during Tuesday weekly press conference. Murray was on the David Baumann Show this week and he talked about the Marshall game and more. Take a Listen:[audio:1080/davidbaumann/DB_10-24-12_Murray.mp3| titles= Latavius Murray on David Baumann Show]
I had a chance to catch up with Ryan Epling of HerdNation.com to get the Thundering Herd side of the story and get a sense for how they are feeling heading into this showdown. Epling gives a great perspective on how the Herd Fans feel about the UCF Program and goes into Marshall team and what are some of the keys to the game on Saturday Night.
Ryan Epling of HerdNation.com