Skid to UCF has seen it all
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University offensive guard John Bruhin has been around the Thundering Herd football program for six years.
And, he’s seen the Herd fall to UCF in just about every crazy way possible.
There’s been torrential downpours, lightning delays, losses on chip shot field goals, fumbled opportunities late and even a blowout.
What there hasn’t been is a Marshall win.
That’s something Marshall wants to change at 8 p.m., Saturday, when UCF (5-2, 3-0 Conference USA) plays the Herd (3-4, 2-1) in Joan C. Edwards Stadium. CBS Sports Network has the telecast on Huntington cable Ch. 174.
“We’ve always had a bitter taste in our mouth after playing UCF,” Bruhin said. “We’re ready to get after them. We always try to play our (butts) off against them and there’s none bigger than this one.”
The series between Marshall and UCF dates back to 2002 when the Knights joined the Mid-American Conference in football.
In three meetings during the MAC years, UCF never defeated Marshall.
Once the schools joined C-USA in the 2005 season, the scenario flipped. Now, the Herd is staring at a seven-game losing streak against the Knights that dates back to 2004.
Players couldn’t believe it when told that it had been that long since the Herd got the win over UCF.
“2004? I’m going to say I was in the sixth grade,” Marshall offensive tackle Garrett Scott said. “For real? Wow. That’ll be a big win. Bruhin was probably here. We like to call him the 10-year vet.”
Scott was making a joke about Bruhin having been at Marshall for six years due to medical redshirts, but for Bruhin, the streak is no joke — especially considering how close the Herd has been on several occasions.
The biggest letdown during the series came in 2009 when Marshall led 20-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
UCF got a late touchdown, and it appeared Marshall would seize a victory after gaining possession with just 2:30 left on the clock.
It appeared to be a signature win for then-coach Mark Snyder until disaster struck.
Quarterback Brian Anderson fumbled a snap and UCF recovered on Marshall’s side of the field. Brett Hodges completed the comeback with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Rocky Ross, who was left uncovered following a Marshall timeout.
The Knights won, 21-20, in a loss that signaled the beginning of the end for Snyder at Marshall.
It’s a game that Bruhin can’t forget — no matter how hard he tries.
“We were down there two or three years ago, and we have a fumbled snap, they get it back and score right off the bat,” Bruhin said. “We’ve had them a couple of times, but we’re ready to make a statement this time.”
In addition to the 2009 loss, there was a 23-22 loss to UCF in Huntington during the 2006 season. The game was played on a Wednesday night and Matthew McConaughey led the team out onto the field as a precursor to the release of the movie “We Are Marshall.”
At the end, though, the Knights celebrated the victory after getting a 22-yard field goal by Michael Torres with 6.7 seconds remaining.
The previous year, UCF started its winning streak with a 23-13 victory over the Herd in Orlando — a win that snapped an 18-game losing streak and was the first for coach George O’Leary at UCF.
Each of the last two seasons, the matchup was marred by horrific weather.
Last season, the Knights earned a 16-6 victory in a game that was played in a torrential downpour. In 2010, UCF won 35-14 in a game that was played in front of virtually no fans in the second half following a 68-minute lightning delay after the 8:05 p.m. kickoff.
Once again, this year’s kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and the weather forecast is less than favorable.