HUNTINGTON - Rakeem Cato's career splashed down to an all-time low last year at Central Florida, and didn't do much for any of his Marshall offensive mates.
By the time the Thundering Herd dried off from its 16-6 loss in Noah's Ark-type conditions in Orlando, it had lost its seventh straight game to the Knights, mustered just 130 total yards and was one defensive touchdown from being shut out.
And Cato? After losing his composure on the sidelines, the true freshman was benched until further notice. He played some over the next four weeks, but did not become the Herd's top quarterback again until A.J. Graham was injured at Tulsa.
Cato assures that he got the message from coach Doc Holliday.
"That game changed me around, got me to focus on college football and life, knowing that anything can be taken away from you," Cato said Monday. "Just me maturing after that game, just learning, just learning how things go. That was the turning point."
That UCF game seems so long ago, and it was - Cato has thrown for 3,584 yards and 29 touchdowns since. But the Herd's streak of futility against the Knights is much, much longer.
This week marks the 11th and probably last time the teams will play. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, with CBS Sports Network airing it.
How long has it been since the Herd downed an anemic UCF squad 20-3 in a Mid-American Conference contest on Oct. 30, 2004? Let's put it in these terms:
Marshall has joined Conference USA, hired two football coaches, hired two basketball coaches, renamed the football stadium after a major benefactor and has seen its emerging running back from '04 win two Super Bowl rings.