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Herd knows hazards of playing an FCS school

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Coaches at those major-college football teams that opened their seasons against not-so-major-college teams issued the obligatory warning about Davids occasionally biting Goliath.

This week, there are more Bowl Subdivision teams playing the so-called little guys. Those coaches have tangible, frightening proof to back up their speeches.

That includes Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who is preparing his team to battle Gardner-Webb on Saturday. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m, with no television outside of pay-per-stream on Herdzone.com.

"The one thing I tried to stress to our team is that there were seven teams sitting last Tuesday that were kind of in the same boat that we are," Holliday said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "And for whatever reason, whether it was preparation, whether it was, whatever it was, they woke up Sunday morning and they weren't very happy."

No, they weren't. Those victims of a pesky Championship Subdivision team last weekend, in the order Holliday rattled them off:

  • Oregon State: The Beavers slipped from 25th to oblivion after losing 49-46 to Eastern Washington. The Eagles went ahead with 18 seconds left, and OSU kicker Trevor Romaine's 52-yard field goal went wide right at the final horn. EWU gained 625 total yards.
  • Kansas State: The Wildcats dedicated a $90 million stadium renovation and unveiled an 8-foot statue of coach Bill Snyder, only to lose 24-21 to two-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State. 
  • Iowa State: The Cyclones lost to Northern Iowa 28-20, managing just two field goals in the second half. Iowa State also lost to UNI in 2007.
  • South Florida: The Bulls suffered the worst possible scenario, losing 53-21 to McNeese State. The game wasn't close after the Cowboys scored 31 second-quarter points and led 40-7 early in the third quarter. Bulls coach Willie Taggart, who replaced the fired Skip Holtz after last season, expressed his disgust: "It was a nightmare. My worst fears happened. We have talent, but we are a mentally fragile team," he said. "They haven't won here in a while and it showed. There were guys that quit."
  • Connecticut: Coach Paul Pasqualoni is deep in the collective doghouse of Huskies fans after their team lost 33-18 to ... wait for it ... Towson.
  • San Diego State: The Aztecs gave up 533 total yards and committed five turnovers in a 40-19 loss to Eastern Illinois.
  • Georgia State: The Panthers lost 31-21 to Samford of the Southern Conference, though whether it was an upset can be debated. A 100-yard kickoff return boosted the Bulldogs.
  • The one Holliday didn't mention: South Alabama's 22-21 loss to Southern Utah. What he did mention: "As you know there are a couple of I-AA [FCS] teams that went into some people's stadiums, that are supposedly pretty good teams, and barely got out of there without winning."

    He may have been making a veiled reference to alma mater West Virginia, which suffered a near-disaster against William & Mary. But that's not the important thing - the task at hand for the Herd is beating Gardner-Webb.

    The Big South school based in Boiling Springs, N.C., does have an FBS pelt in its history. That came on Sept. 11, 2010, a 38-37 overtime victory at Akron. Perhaps more impressive was a 10-7 loss at Georgia Tech, in which the Runnin' Bulldogs held the Yellow Jackets to 199 total yards - and missed a tie by having a field goal blocked in the closing seconds.

    Another example for the Herd to heed.

    "The message to our football team is you'd better be prepared to go play [or] you're going to get beat."

    Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.

     

     

     


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