Dec. 22, 2009
Marshall's football team is set to travel to Detroit on Wednesday morning to continue bowl prep for Saturday's 1 p.m. meeting with the Ohio Bobcats in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN.
The Thundering Herd (6-6) overall is making its first bowl appearance since 2004 and will be fighting for its first winning season since 2003 as it takes on its long-time rival Ohio. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since Marshall left the Mid-American Conference to join Conference USA in 2005.
Ohio (9-3) enters the game as the Mid-American Conference East Division Champions and will be looking for its first ever bowl win. The Bobbats feature three first-team All-MAC performers in linebacker Lee Renfro, kick returner Chris Garrett and punter Matt Weller. Ohio also boasts its all-time leader in career receptions in wide receiver Taylor Price.
Marshall counters with four first-team All-Conference USA selections. They are linebacker Mario Harvey, injured tight end Cody Slate, long snapper Sean McClellan, and kicker Craig Ratanamorn. The Herd will also benefit from the return of standout running back Darius Marshall who missed the last two games of the regular season due to injury. The junior has rushed for 1,054 yards and 11 touchdowns this season in only nine games and he ranks 13th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 117.1 ypg.
The Marshall-Ohio series dates back to 1905 and Marshall has played Ohio more than any other opponent in its storied football history (52 times). The Bobcats lead the all-time series 29-17-6, however Marshall has won the last four meetings and eight of the last nine games dating back to 1988. This will be only the second time Marshall has faced a MAC opponent since leaving the league. Earlier this season, Marshall downed Bowling Green 17-10 in Huntington.
Marshall was a member of the MAC from 1953-1969 and again from 1997-2004. Marshall won five MAC Championships (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001) and appeared in seven bowl games during that span before joining C-USA in 2005. Marshall posted an impressive record of 51-10 against other MAC schools from 1997-2004.
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will be the Thundering Herd's ninth bowl appearance all-time and Marshall is 5-3 in those bowl games and has won five of its last six bowls. Marshall has appeared in four Motor City Bowls, in fact they were the first four bowls based in Detroit and all of those games were played at the Pontiac Silverdome. This will be Marshall's first ever appearance at Ford Field.
Pam Ward will handle play-by-play duties and Ray Bentley will serve as the analyst fo ESPN's national TV broadcast. It will also be avialable online where available via ESPN360.com.
Marshall's team will conduct a workout Tuesday afternoon at Ford Field before taking part in a team outing, along with the Bobcats, at GameWorks on Wednesday night.
Thursday, Marshall will practice at Ford Field at 9 a.m. before attending the bowl kickoff luncheon at the Atheneum Hotel.
Christmas Day wake-up comes early for Marshall's seniors and interim coach Rick Minter as they help the Salvation Army serve breakfast to the less fortunate at the Masonic Temple in Downtown Detroit at 7 a.m. After an afternoon at the movies, Marshall's team will enjoy Christmas dinner at the team hotel before team chaplain Steve Harvey delivers an optional chapel service to close out the evening.