College Football Preview: East CArolina vs. Marshall

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2008

Associated Press
GREENVILLE ó East Carolina didn’t have much time this week to prepare for Marshall, but coach Skip Holtz is fine with that.
After all, his team has spent much of the past year thinking about the Thundering Herd.
The Pirates’ Conference USA title game hopes were dashed when they were upset last year in Huntington. That’s why they insist they’ll be ready for Saturday’s meeting of East Division co-leaders just six days after East Carolina’s win at Central Florida.
“We know it’s a short week, but you couldn’t ask for a bigger carrot to put in front of you or your football team, knowing who is coming in here after last year’s football game up at Marshall,” Holtz said. “To have the opportunity to come back and play them here with both of us in first place in the conference, is going to be a great challenge for us and one that I think we’re excited about.”
The Thundering Herd (4-4, 3-1) were the latest team to keep East Carolina (5-3, 3-1) from playing for a C-USA championship. The Pirates were on their way to their first division title last year when a sub-.500 Marshall team knocked them off 26-7, opening the door for Central Florida to claim the league crown.
“We went up there and had an opportunity to hold first place in the division, and we couldn’t do it,” Holtz said. “We’re sitting in the same situation where we’re both coming in with a 3-1 record and the winner is going to walk out of here in first place in the East Division. I don’t want to use that as the sole motivation, for revenge. But at the same time, I want them to understand the importance of what’s on the line and the preparation that it’s going to take to get ready for this football game.”
Many expected East Carolina to be in this position after opening the year with upsets of nationally ranked Virginia Tech and West Virginia to surge into the top 15 before a three-game losing streak. Marshall, however, was picked in the preseason to finish fifth in the six-team division but won its first two league games.
“We’re excited to be in the position that we are in right now,” Thundering Herd coach Mark Snyder said. “Obviously, East Carolina and (Marshall) control our own destiny. As you look at us statistically, its frightening. We’re very similar teams and we try to build the programs in very similar fashions.”