CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- YOU COULD CALL Marshall's wound-licking football team a lot of things, some not so complimentary.
The Thundering Herd may be inconsistent defensively, as was evident in its 51-49 loss last week at Middle Tennessee.
The Herd may be prone to questionable coaching decisions, such as those late in the first half when an ultra-conservative strategy backfired into a 21-all tie at halftime - with MTSU getting the ball to start the second half.
The Herd may have shaky special teams. More specifically, the Herd may have the most frightening punt team on Earth.
But I promise there is one thing you cannot accuse Marshall of being.
It's heartbreaking, really. When the once-very-proud Golden Eagles fly into Joan C. Edwards Stadium at noon Saturday, they will do so with a 19-game losing streak and virtually no chance to keep it from going to 20.
After watching the Eagles' 55-14 loss to North Texas at Hattiesburg, I cannot contemplate the possibility of an upset in Huntington. I cannot grant the "any given Saturday" line a shred of credence.
Six days away, I smell the strong aroma of bonus tailgating. Last year's 59-24 margin is as good a prediction as any.
Yes, I watched the NT-USM game Saturday night. I sacrificed Ohio State-Penn State, Oregon-UCLA and the first six innings of World Series Game 3 to check out the rout at "The Rock." The Eagles remain at rock bottom.
First-year coach Todd Monken gave true freshman Nick Mullens his first start at quarterback because ... why not? It's not like fifth-year Allan Bridgford was burning it up.
Mullens threw a nice 59-yard touchdown shot to Dominique Sullivan early in the second quarter, but finished 12 of 31 for 210 yards with three interceptions and two lost fumbles. He has to fix all those things freshmen QBs typically need to work on, i.e. throwing too much into tight windows and working on progressions.
It would help if he had receivers who could catch, though.
The Mean Green, still a West Division contender, overcame that bomb and steamrolled to a 41-7 halftime lead. NT gained 383 of its 529 total yards in that half and went on to record its largest margin of victory since 1958, against Drake.
There was nothing Southern Miss did well. Couldn't run, couldn't stop the run, couldn't tackle, couldn't block, couldn't hold the edge, couldn't cover, couldn't maintain confidence. Their offense couldn't keep the ball and their defense couldn't get off the field, leading to a 41:51 to 18:09 deficit in time of possession.