Herd faces ECU, deja vu
HUNTINGTON -- This week is almost a carbon copy of the 2011 season for Marshall University football.
In the final contest of the 2011 regular season Marshall needed a win to become bowl eligible. Marshall escaped Joan C. Edwards Stadium with a 34-27 overtime victory over East Carolina that propelled the Thundering Herd to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.
It's something Marshall players know East Carolina (7-4, 6-1 Conference USA) has not forgotten about heading into Friday's 2 p.m. matchup at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C. Marshall (5-6, 4-3) once again needs to beat ECU to gain bowl eligibility.
They all know the magnitude of this road trip.
"It's got to be the most hardest, toughest week of practice we've had," Marshall strong safety Dominic LeGrande said. "This is everything now. Everything is on the line. Win. Go home."
As if the game didn't take on a big meaning because the Herd is currently on the outside looking in at the bowl picture, last year's overtime win for Marshall eliminated East Carolina from bowl eligibility.
The Pirates, who have already secured a bowl berth with seven wins, would love to celebrate a Senior Day win that also proved to be payback for the Herd finalizing their 2011 campaign.
"With the situation being the same for us as it was last year, I know they are looking forward to getting that chance to ruin it for us," Herd defensive end Alex Bazzie said.
East Carolina has been no slouch this season, winning four of its last five games.
It's not like this is a throw-away game for East Carolina, either.
The Pirates still have a lot to play for, considering that if they win and UCF falls to UAB this weekend, they will be crowned as the C-USA East Division champion.
Marshall had trouble starting out with the necessary intensity in its last road contest -- a 38-31 setback at UAB -- so the Herd is looking to flip the switch and ensure that Friday doesn't mark the end of the season.
"They're coming out with everything they've got," Marshall free safety Okechukwu Okoroha said. "It's just everything on the line now. We have to take care of business or that's it."
Saturday's game is a CBS Sports Network telecast on Huntington cable Ch. 174.