Football Faces UCF Sunday Night on ESPN


Darius Marshall ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game.

Darius Marshall ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game.

Oct. 30, 2009

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Marshall travels to Orlando this weekend for a prime time Conference USA East Division game with UCF. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Sunday night and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

Dave Lamont will handle play-by-play and J.C. Pearson will serve as analyst for the ESPN broadcast.

Marshall (5-3, 3-1 C-USA) and UCF (4-3, 2-2 C-USA) will play the only football game in the nation on Sunday night and all eyes of the college football world will be on Brighthouse Networks Stadium as the Herd attempts to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2004 against C-USA's #1 ranked defense.

Marshall in a Good Position: The Thundering Herd is off to a 5-3 start and is now 3-1 in Conference USA. Marshall's overall record is the second-best mark in the conference behind nationally-ranked Houston's 6-1 overall mark. With four regular season games remaining, MU needs only one win to become conditionally bowl eligible for the first time since 2004. The Herd's only losses this season have come at nationally-ranked Virginia Tech, at home to defending C-USA Champion East Carolina and on the road at nationally-ranked West Virginia.

Marshall vs. UCF: The Thundering Herd and the Knights have a bit of history between them. Both schools entered C-USA in 2005 from the Mid-American Conference where Marshall was a full-member and UCF played football only. Prior to the move, Marshall was a perfect 3-0 against UCF, however the Knights have now won four straight in the series, including a 30-14 decision last season in Huntington. Marshall is 1-2 in games played in Orlando with the win coming back in 2003 (21-7).

Scouting UCF: The Knights (4-3, 2-2 C-USA) are coming off of a 49-7 win at Rice. UCF running back Brynn Harvey is averaging 90.3 rushing yards per game, while quarterback Brett Hodges is averaging 173.7 yards passing per contest. The UCF offense is balanced and the Knights have five different receivers with 10 or more catches this season and three of those receivers are averaging more than 41 receiving yards per game. Defensively, UCF is led by a tremedous front line. The Knights are limiting opponents to only 19.1 points per game.

A Win over UCF Would Mean: Should Marshall win on Sunday, the Herd would move to 6-3 overall and be conditionally bowl eligible for the first time since the 2004 season when Marshall finished 6-6 following a 32-14 loss to Cincinnati in the Fort Worth Bowl...it would also be Marshall's highest win total under Mark Snyder and put Marshall at 4-1 in Conference USA for the first time...it would be Marshall's first ever win at Brighthouse Network's Stadium and help Marshall keep pace with division leader East Carolina.

He is Marshall, Darius Marshall: Junior running back Darius Marshall continues to rank among the top rushers in the nation. He leads Conference USA and ranks second nationally in rushing yards per game with 136 yards per game, trailing only Ryan Mathews of Fresno State (161.57). Marshall, an ouststanding kick returner, also ranks fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards with 189 yards per game.

Still Perfect: Herd kicker Craig Ratanamorn is enjoying a fine senior year. He connected on two field goals in last week's win over UAB to remaing perfect on the year. He is a 9-for-9 in field goal tries with a long of 43 yards and is 20-20 on extra points this season.

The Great Cody Slate: How Good is Marshall senior Tight End Cody Slate? Consider this: Slate is the only tight end that is ranked among the NCAA's active career statistical leaders in all of the major categories. Slate ranks among the NCAA active career leaders in catches (192), rec. yards (2,514), rec. touchdowns (22) and catches per game in a career (4.6). No other tight end in the country appears on every one of those lists. In fact, only one other tight end- Dennis Pitta of BYU appears on two or more of those lists.

All-America and John Mackey Award Candidate Cody Slate is arguably the top tight end inthe nation. Slate, a senior from Chipley, Fla., has accumulated 2,514 receiving yards and 22 TD receptions in his career. He is on the John Mackey Award Watch List and with his performance in the 2009 opener against Southern Illinois, passed former MU standout Sean Doctor's career total of 2,100 receiving yards to become the top receiving tight end in Marshall History. His 2,514 career receiving yards put him 8th all-time at Marshall and his 192 career receptions are the sixth most in MU history.

Sir Albert : First-team All-Conference USA selection Albert McClellan ranks among the top defensive players in the country. McClellan was the 2006 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and ranks among Marshall's career leaders in tackles for loss with 38.5 and sacks with 21. McClellan ranks 9th in the nation in tackles for loss among active career leaders.

Mr. Marshall: Running Back Darius Marshall rushed for 1,095 yards last season and is working on an even more impressive junior season. He already ranks among the top 10 career rushers in Marshall history. He is also a multi-purpose threat that provides Marshall with one of the top kick returners in C-USA. In his first game of the season, Marshall rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries at Virginia Tech. He followed that up with a career game against Bowling Green. Marshall rushed for a 186 yards against the Falcons in a game highlighted by a career-best 80-yard touchdown scamper. He backed that up with a 203-yard performance against Memphis, rushing for three touchdowns. Thus far in 2009, Marshall has rushed for a career-high 10 touchdowns.

Super Mario: Mario Harvey, Marshall's leading tackler from last season (107), returns for his junior season. The standout will earn his fourth year of eligibility due to his academic progress and is a major factor in the Herd's success. He is a preseason all-conference selection and was on the Rotary Lombardi Award Preseason Watch List. Harvey was credited with three tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry in the opener and followed that with eight tackles, including a sack of Tyrod Taylor for a loss of seven yards at Virginia Tech. For the year, He leads the Herd with 54 total tackles.