MORGANTOWN — It was like watching an instant replay a week apart.
First, Marshall University hammered Eastern Kentucky 59-0 on Sept. 5 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.
Then, a week later and 211 miles away, West Virginia University hammered the final nails into EKU’s Mountain State coffin with a 56-10 victory before 976 spectators here at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
It was like déjà MU all over again.
Remember how Thundering Herd quarterback Grant Wells came out on fire, connecting on seven straight passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns? Well, the Mountaineers’ Jarret Doege was nearly as hot while completing 10 of 13 passes for 112 yards and a TD in the first quarter.
The comparisons continued and continued and continued.
WVU running back Leddie Brown rumbled and rambled for 123 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 first-half carries, much like Marshall’s star running back Brenden Knox performed a week earlier.
At halftime, Marshall led EKU 38-0. At halftime a week later, WVU led EKU 42-7.
Who says a team makes its biggest improvement from game one to game two?
That well-worn coaching cliché certainly wasn’t proven by Eastern Kentucky’s tour of the Mountain State. At this point, the Colonels might not want any part of the University of Charleston.
Meanwhile, back in comparison city, Marshall’s Wells finished the first half with 280 yards and four touchdowns on 13 of 20 passing. During the same span a week later, WVU’s Doege was 19 of 25 for 228 yards and three TDs.
Even the running games were comparable, which no one expected after WVU’s horrific ground game performance in 2019. But there it was with Alec Sinkfield matching Brown with 123 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
So, who was more impressive vs. that piece of litmus paper named Eastern Kentucky?
Was it WVU?
Was it Marshall?
Or was it a dead heat?
And if it’s the latter, shouldn’t that lead to a rubber match between WVU and Marshall?
But before we elaborate on that final concept, it’s only fair that a caveat be considered. Before the game, it was announced that WVU head coach Neal Brown had handed out one-game suspensions for 11 of his players. The list included starting senior center Chase Behrndt, starting left tackle Elijah Uzebu, starting tight end T.J. Banks and his backup, Mike O’Laughlin, along with starting senior slot receiver T.J. Simmons and his backup Isaiah Esdale.
That’s a serious handicap.
Yet, the Mountaineers did a superlative job of persevering, never missing a beat.
That definitely is to WVU’s credit.
The question remains, however. Given how even WVU and Marshall’s performances were against EKU, should the Mountain State’s only two FBS schools square off again?
But instead of playing at WVU or Marshall, as has been the case in the past, I suggest a novel concept. Why not play this ultimate in-state matchup at The Greenbrier?
The resort already possesses an NFL training camp facility. It would require two grandstands and a press box, but a quality playing surface already is in place.
It’s almost heavenly food for thought.
We could call it “The Greenbrier Bowl.”
How about it, Governor Justice?