Friday, September 10, 2010

Thoughts On: West Virginia at Marshall

By way of breaking in my brand new cable, I watched the West Virginia-Marshall game tonight. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much more than background noise, but it sucked me in. I can't resist a scrappy underdog.

For those of you who didn't watch the game, the final score (West Virginia 24, Marshall 21 in OT) belies just how much Marshall dominated their in-state rivals. Well, not rivals since (as the announcers told us somewhere between 13 and 400,000 times) they've played 10 times and Marshall has never won. But you know what I mean.

The weird thing was that when I say Marshall dominated West Virginia, I mean they physically dominated them. The Mountaineer offensive line kept getting ploughed over by the Herd's defensive line. For three quarters, West Virginia looked totally inept.

Unfortunately, by the fourth quarter, Marshall was just plain tired. They got up to a 21-6 lead, but that's not enough for a rebuilding C-USA team to be safe against a fairly consistently successful BCS conference team. A team with smaller, less talented recruits; lower-paid coaches; and shabbier facilities can fight just as hard as a team with all the advatages, but it's hard to keep it up for four quarters.

This is why we should cherish college football upsets. My heart broke a little when I watched a team and a school get tantalizingly close to a landmark victory and then watch that lovely dream disappear. I guess this near-miss will make them appreciate victory over West Virginia even more when it finally does happen . . . although that's probably not much of a silver lining for them right now.

In other Marshall news, their coach is named Doc Holliday. And that's a victory for everyone.

Oh, and in other West Virginia news, they looked awful (except for their one good running back, Noel Devine). Dear poll-voters: do not keep them ranked. There's no way they're one of the 25 best teams in the country.

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