HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - As he witnessed all of his teammates' family reunions in Florida, Marshall defensive end Alex Bazzie wondered: Wouldn't it be great for me to play at home?
When home is Silver Spring, Md., the chances are slight. In fact, the Thundering Herd, the Big Green, the Boogercats or whatever nicknames the school has played under, have yet to set a football cleat in the Old Line State.
(Marshall College did play Western Maryland, now McDaniel College, in 1932 and 1937 in Huntington. Won one, tied one.)
That drought ends Dec. 27, when the Herd hits the field against the home-state Maryland Terrapins in the Military Bowl, contested in nearby Annapolis. Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m., with the game airing on ESPN.
Bazzie and his fellow Marylanders knew the assignment was a distinct possibility, especially after losing to Rice in the Conference USA championship game. But it didn't hit home - figuratively and literally - until the bid was offered to MU and accepted.
For Bazzie, the Herd's new destination didn't just hit home, it was a hit at home.
"It's funny because my mom called and asked, 'When you all coming here? Where are you guys going?' " he said. "To finally call and say, 'Hey, I'm coming here, I'm coming home to play a game.' She was so shocked, she kept asking questions, like, 'You sure? It's here here, not Virginia here?' I'm like, 'Yeah, Mom, it's going to be in the state of Maryland.'
"And she started laughing and said, 'It's about time.' "
Other Marshall team members hailing from Maryland are cornerback Derrick Thomas (Greenbelt) linebacker Stefan Houston (Clarksburg) and receiver Devon Smith (White Plains). Running back Essray Taliferro is from Washington.