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Grant Traylor: Opponents from FCS have proven dangerous

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:40 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The list from last weekend had several prominent names on it.

No. 25 Oregon State

Kansas State

South Florida

San Diego State

Connecticut

Iowa State

South Alabama

That is the list of FBS (Division I) schools who lost to FCS (Division I-AA) schools in the first week of the season.

And, if you want to include them, Georgia State, who is transitioning from FBS to FCS, also fell to Samford over the weekend.

In all, that is eight schools who thought they were starting their season with cupcakes and ended up with cake on their face at the end of college football's first weekend.

Then-No. 25 Oregon State lost a 49-45 shootout to Eastern Washington, who had been extremely successful in recent years.

That came after Kansas State, the reigning Big 12 champion, lost a 24-21 contest to North Dakota State, who had won the last two FCS championships in 2011 and 2012.

McNeese State not only beat South Florida, they whipped them to the tune of 53-21 in Tampa, Fla.

Others include Eastern Illinois' 40-19 win over San Diego State, Towson's 33-20 victory at Connecticut, Northern Iowa's 28-20 win over Iowa State and Southern Utah tripping up South Alabama 22-21.

And let's not ignore that it almost happened in the Mountain State last week as well when West Virginia had to overcome a 17-7 deficit to leave Milan Puskar Stadium with a 24-17 win over William & Mary, who was 2-9 last season.

That alone is enough reason for Marshall to not take FCS opponent Gardner-Webb lightly.

However, there is a deeper reason the Herd should especially never take an FCS opponent lightly.

That's because at one time, Marshall was that FCS opponent going into the houses of big-name teams and walking away with wins.

Remember 1998 when Marshall won its first-ever bowl game?

That season really got rolling when the Herd traveled to South Carolina and got a late field goal to earn a 24-21 win over the Gamecocks.

And how about the pinnacle season in Marshall football history -- the perfect 13-0 season in 1999?

That season started with another trip to the Palmetto State when the Herd looked Death Valley in the eyes and walked out with a 13-10 win over Clemson in the season-opener.

Marshall players are well-versed in the history of the program -- from the 1970 plane crash to the rise of the program and everything in between.

But this week's history lesson needs to be about those Marshall teams who were once the FCS team looking to make a name.

The former hunter is now the hunted.

It would be a great bit of perspective for players.

HERD OFF AND RUNNING: Marshall currently has three rushers who are in Conference USA's top 10 in rushing yards per game.

Steward Butler is tied for third with 107 yards per game, Essray Taliaferro is sixth with 89 yards per game and quarterback Rakeem Cato is 10th at 59 yards per game.

SCORING STREAK: Gardner-Webb has scored points in 56 consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in the Big South Conference.

The last time the Runnin' Bulldogs were shut out came on Nov. 17, 2007 when they fell to Liberty 31-0 in the season finale.

Grant Traylor covers Marshall football for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by E-mail at gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com or by phone at (304) 526-2860. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).

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