HUNTINGTON - The end of the Marshall-Central Florida rivalry isn't exactly on par with the end of West Virginia-Pittsburgh, but one thing is certain: The Thundering Herd and Knights have been on each other's schedule every year since 2002.
Nobody else has. By itself, that gets this game an extra circle or two on the teams' calendars. In football, the most familiarity really does breed the most contempt.
And this is not a simmering rivalry despite UCF's seven straight wins - rather, that's a major factor. Marshall's failure to capitalize on opportunities in the 2005, 2006 and 2009 games played a considerable role in the end of the Mark Snyder administration, and UCF's 2010 hiring of MU's basketball coach dumped a little gas on the fire.
The games themselves are typically physical and subject to any number of strange twists. Herd fans who show up at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for this 8 p.m. game are certain to be fired up, directing pleasantries at UCF coach George O'Leary and his troops. Just to make it more fun, it's Halloween season.
Who knows? Perhaps an MU student or two could dress up as O'Leary.
"I think we're on everybody's high list right now," O'Leary said. "I always look forward to going up there; they have a good fan base, they're an active crowd. I enjoy going up there and competing."
"Against Marshall, it's always been weird weather, or something's been a little weird," said Knights center Jordan Rae. "And we enjoy it."
UCF has long since become the team the rest of Conference USA loves to hate. The impending move to the Big East and the program's success in staving off an NCAA postseason ban until after the season adds to that.
So do the stakes. Strip away emotion and you still have a big game.
A win for UCF (5-2 overall, 3-0 Conference USA) establishes the Knights as the prohibitive favorite to win the East Division, as they would own tiebreakers over MU and 4-1 East Carolina. A win for Marshall (3-4, 2-1) gives the Herd control of its destiny, with ECU at the end of the schedule.
And the Herd would have the knowledge that, yes, it can beat anyone in the league.