Note: I actually used to work with Gary in another life. Hard to believe it's been 10 years since I escaped from Montgomery. I know Gary has been writing for the Register-Herald for a while now, but congratulations none the less!
I don't think the Herd will be intimidated either. I would think it is a pretty rare case that a college football team is intimidated by anyone or anything.
Since joining the Division I-A ranks in 1997, Marshall owns road wins over South Carolina (SEC), Clemson (ACC) and Kansas State (Big 12). Kansas State was ranked sixth in the country at the time, then went on to beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.Those victories were in stadiums that have an average seating capacity of more than 70,500.The Herd also had close calls in stadiums that routinely are rocked by more than 100,000 fans.
They lost 34-24 at then-No. 11 Tennessee's Neyland Stadium in 2003 (some believe Marshall would have won that game had starting quarterback Stan Hill not injured his knee), and Ohio State needed a 55-yard field goal from Mike Nugent as time expired to eke out a 24-21 win.The attendance at Tennessee was 106,520, some of whom gave the Herd a standing ovation and applauded their efforts as they exited into the tunnel after the game. At Ohio Stadium, Marshall made 104,622 Buckeye fans squirm for 59 minutes, 57 seconds.
Granted, the fans in Morgantown will present a much different type of hostility. For years now the Mountaineer faithful have looked at Marshall disdainfully and would love nothing more than to see their team put the Herd in its place. (Truer words were never spoken)
Now, having said that, I think it is kind of hard to predict at what point Marshall will start to fall behind. One thing I have noticed that no one is really talking about this year is the pace of the WVU offense. I could link to about a million articles about the emphasis that is being placed on conditioning this summer by the Mountaineers. And from that I expect the offense to really cut down on the time between plays to try to wear down the opposing defenses and catch them out of place. The execution of last years team was very good, but I think it was probably the slowest pace I have seen out of WVU's offense since Coach Rod's first year. I'm going to go ahead and say that WVU will have at least two 50+ yard touchdown runs in the first half, the second will break the will of Marshall to hang in the game. Homerific? Maybe, but when the WVU offense picks up the pace it can be devastating for a defense. Just wait and see.