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Marshall, Ohio 'Battle for the Bell'

Sep. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

ATHENS, Ohio -- In the old Western movies, a line would be drawn in the sand and two adversaries would take their sides in preparation for battle.

Consider that the case with Marshall University and Ohio University in the "Battle for the Bell," a Saturday, 8 p.m. football game in Peden Stadium that will be televised on ESPN News (Comcast Huntington Ch. 123).

Instead of drawing a line in the sand, the schools -- separated by 80 miles -- have the natural line of the Ohio River dividing them and their fan bases.

The Bell trophy is used to symbolize the bell used by riverboats that travel up and down the river. It was incorporated into the rivalry in 1997 when Marshall moved up to NCAA Division I-A (now FBS) and became a divisional rival of the Bobcats in the Mid-American Conference.

While the "Battle for the Bell" only dates back to Marshall's return to Division I-A, the rivalry is more than 100 years old with the first contest being a 6-5 Marshall win in 1905.

It would be the Herd's only win in the series until a 14-6 win in Huntington in 1949 -- the first year of the series being rekindled after a decade-long hiatus.

From then, the series played annually until 1975 with the lone year being missed coming in 1970. Marshall and Ohio were scheduled to play on Nov. 21, 1970 -- one week after the Marshall plane crash which killed 75 people, including Marshall's team and its traveling party aboard Southern Airways Flight 932.

The last three years of that annual series (1973, 1974, 1975) represent the last time Ohio won three straight in consecutive years against Marshall -- a feat the Bobcats are trying to duplicate Saturday night.

Since Marshall rejoined the Division I-A ranks in 1997, the Herd has won nine of 12 meetings, including a 21-17 victory in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Following that season, the teams started a six-year annual contract that extends through 2015.

In Marshall's last trip to Athens (2011), the Bobcats defeated the Herd, 44-7, -- the series' most lopsided contest since 1968 when Ohio beat Marshall, 48-8.

Ohio's 27-24 win last season marked the Bobcats' first win in Huntington since 1977. Marshall's last win in Athens was 16-13 on Oct. 9, 2004.

Traffic, parking concerns in Athens

ATHENS, Ohio -- Football fans driving to Saturday's game in Peden Stadium should be alert to construction taking place on the Ohio University campus. Many parking areas have changed. Pay attention to directional signage for game day parking.

All university parking lots will open at 4 p.m.

RV and charter bus reservations have reached their limit. If you have not already made an RV or charter bus reservation, you will not be able to park either type of vehicle.

Parking updates can be found by following @ohioparking on Twitter.

Direct all questions to Parking Services at 740-593-1917.

-- The Herald-Dispatch

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