It’s only been a few weeks since Marshall last competed in a football game, but with the 2018 season officially in the books, the focus has already been shifted towards the upcoming 2019 season for the Thundering Herd.
The Herd’s 2019 football schedule was officially released on Thursday with several noteworthy games lined up throughout non-conference play and C-USA play. Marshall will be looking to win its first C-USA East Division Championship since 2014, and a tough non-conference schedule could prepare the Herd for C-USA play.
The 2019 season for Marshall begins with a home game on Aug. 31 against the VMI Keydets of the FCS. VMI finished the 2018 season at a dismal 1-10 overall, so heading into Joan C. Edwards Stadium to battle the Herd won’t make it any easier to get back on track.
Marshall’s first road game of the season will take place the following week on Sept. 7 when the Herd travels to Boise, Idaho to battle the Boise State Broncos of the Mountain West in a marquee battle between two of the winningest Group of Five programs in the country over the past few seasons.
This will be just the second all-time meeting between the Herd and the Broncos with Boise State winning the 1994 matchup on its home field while both teams were still in the FCS. Marshall will host Boise State in 2020 in the return game of this home-and-home series. The Broncos finished the 2018 season at 10-3 overall with a final national ranking of No. 23 and No. 24 in the AP Poll and Coaches Poll respectively.
One of the Herd’s oldest historical rivals comes to town the following week when Marshall hosts the MAC’s Ohio Bobcats in the 2019 edition of the Battle for the Bell. Ohio leads the all-time series 33-20-6 and this will be the first meeting between the teams since 2015. The Bobcats finished 2018 at 9-4 overall with a Frisco Bowl victory and will get the Herd at home just two seasons later in 2020.
The Herd gets a week off following the home game with Ohio, only to return to action on Sept. 28 at home against the resurgent Cincinnati Bearcats of the AAC. Cincinnati owns the all-time series lead over the Herd 8-4-1, but Marshall won the most recent meeting in 2017 with a 38-21 road win.
The Bearcats made a seven-game improvement in wins from 2017 to 2018 with an 11-2 final record, Military Bowl victory, and final national ranking of No. 24 and No. 23 in the AP Poll and Coaches Poll respectively. This will be Cincinnati’s first visit to Joan C. Edwards Stadium since 2008 when the Bearcats were a member of the Big East.
Following a rigorous non-conference schedule, Marshall opens up C-USA play on the road at Middle Tenessee on Oct. 5. The Blue Raiders and the Herd have played eight times, with Marshall owning a 5-3 all-time series lead. However, MTSU knocked off Marshall in Huntington 34-24 in 2018 en route to finishing the 2018 season at 8-6 overall with a C-USA East Division Championship and New Orleans Bowl appearance.
The Herd’s first C-USA home game of 2019 comes on Oct. 12 against the Old Dominion Monarchs. Marshall owns a 4-1 all-time series lead over ODU, including a 42-20 win in Norfolk, Virginia in 2018. The Monarchs finished the 2018 season at just 4-8 overall despite owning one of college football’s biggest upsets of the year with a win over Virginia Tech.
Marshall heads back out on the road on Oct. 19 to battle Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls. The Herd leads the all-time series 5-1 with FAU’s lone win coming during its 2017 C-USA Championship season. However, the Owls fell from an 11-3 record in 2017 to a 5-7 record in 2018, including a 31-7 loss at Marshall.
The 2019 edition of the Moonshine Throwdown between Marshall and Western Kentucky will take place on Oct. 26 in Huntington. The Herd leads the all-time series with the Hilltoppers 6-4 including two straight wins with the most recent being a 20-17 road win, but since WKU joined C-USA in 2014, Marshall is 1-2 in home games against the Hilltoppers.
WKU will have a new head coach in 2019 off the heels of a 3-9 season in 2018 that broke a streak of seven consecutive seasons reaching bowl eligibility. The Herd will head back out on the road the following week to battle a C-USA team it hasn’t faced in a while and one of the team’s two C-USA West Division matchups in 2019, the Rice Owls.
The Herd leads the all-time series with Rice 4-2 with the most recent game coming in 2014 in the form of a 41-14 win for Marshall, but in the 2013 meeting for the C-USA Championship, the Owls routed the Herd 41-24. Rice will head into the 2019 season, however, with a 2-11 final record during the 2018 season.
Marshall’s second bye week comes after the Rice game in preparation for a Nov. 16 home game against Louisiana Tech, the second C-USA West Division matchup for the Herd in 2019. This will be just the third all-time meeting between the Herd and the Bulldogs with the series tied at 1-1. The most recent meeting came in the 2014 C-USA Championship game in which Marshall defeated LA Tech 26-23.
Not only will this be the first meeting between the teams in five years, but it will be the first time they have squared off in the regular season since both teams have been in C-USA. LA Tech wrapped up the 2018 season at 8-5 overall with its fifth consecutive bowl win in the Hawaii Bowl. This will also serve as Marshall’s plane crash memorial game in which the program honors the 75 victims of the November 14, 1970 plane crash.
Since the game closest to the plane crash date became a Marshall tradition in 2013, the Herd is 6-0 and has won the games by a combined score of 240-101. The Herd’s final road game of the regular season comes the following week on Nov. 23 at the Charlotte 49ers. Marshall owns the all-time series lead 3-1 with every game coming since the 49ers joined C-USA in 2015.
The Herd won the 2018 meeting 30-13 and Charlotte will head into the 2019 season with a 5-7 final record in 2018, the most wins the 49ers have had since joining C-USA. Marshall’s 2019 regular season will conclude on Nov. 30 at home against the Florida International Golden Panthers in a game that could have major C-USA East Division implications.
These teams have faced off seven times in their history with the Herd owning a 5-2 series edge, including a 28-25 road win in 2018 that cost FIU a chance of playing in the C-USA Championship game. The Golden Panthers did finish the 2018 season, however, with a 9-4 final record and a Bahamas Bowl victory, the most wins in a single season in program history and first bowl win since the 2010 season.
From top to bottom, Marshall’s 2019 football schedule features many challenges and key games along the way. It also features seven regular season home games for only the second time since the Herd joined C-USA in 2005. The three FBS opponents Marshall faces in the non-conference portion of its schedule all finished 2018 with nine or more wins and two of the three finished nationally ranked in the final AP and Coaches Poll.
Key home games against Ohio, Cincinnati, WKU, LA Tech, and FIU could lead to some of the biggest attendances of the year at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Not to mention, a marquee road game at Boise State will excite the Marshall fanbase along with several other crucial road games in C-USA play.
Marshall has a stellar schedule to look forward to in 2019 in its quest to improve on a 9-4 final record from 2018 and a Gasparilla Bowl win. The Herd hopes that momentum could lead to its first appearance in the C-USA Championship game since 2014.