Bigger and Better 2013
East Carolina had a great season in 2012. The season included an overtime win against Marshall and their Thundering Herd. They finished with a 7-1 in Conference USA and an 8-5 overall record, earning them a berth to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. They suffered a tough loss there, having their rally fall just a few minutes short of victory. The Pirates are 9-2 under 4th year coach Ruffin McNeill in what has become his best year at the helm. The Liberty Bowl in Memphis gets first pick from Conference USA for their game on New Years Eve. Finishing on top of Marshall this weekend will keep them #1 and playing on December 31 looks more promising.
Past Matches Aren’t Forgotten
Marshall hasn’t forgotten the OT loss from last year. They are currently holding their own in second place in the C-USA East. Only East Carolina and Rice are poised to finish better than them in the conference. For Marshall, the Military Bowl to be played on December 27 against an ACC team is a likely place for them. Marshall is favored for this Bowl played in Annapolis at the Naval Academy.
Last year, Marshall finished regulation tied with East Carolina 59-59. In the second overtime that day, ECU’s sophomore Shane Carden ran for a 1 yard TD giving the Pirates the hard fought victory. Only Marshall’s loss earlier this season to Middle Tennessee 49-51 comes close to the 124 point game played last year.
High Scoring is Probable
These two teams lead the conference in passing offense. Now a junior, QB Carden is having a great season. With a completion rate over 72%, 32 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions, Carden is poised to finish strong against Marshall and shine bright in a bowl game. He has led the Pirates to outscore their opponents 457-243, an almost 20 point per game discrepancy.
Marshall has very similar scoring statistics. They are beating their opponents by an average of 22 points per game. Rakeem Cato has also passed for 32 touchdowns, only 7 interceptions and is completing almost 60 percent of his passes. The numbers indicate a great offensive showdown in West Virginia this weekend. Both QBs are capable of scoring big points again this year.
What will separate these two on Friday? Their running game. Marshall is second in the conference with yards gained on the ground, averaging over 200 per game. ECU is 12th in the conference picking up only 126 yards per game rushing.
Conference Title Game on the Line
Most would agree this is the most anticipated C-USA game of the season. The winner of this game will find themselves playing in the Conference Title game next week against the West Division leader Rice.
Marshall hosts East Carolina Friday at 12:00 pm Eastern. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Be sure to vote for your favorite in our poll above: Will the Pirates be able to stop the Thundering Herd?