MORGANTOWN-The series has spanned more than a century, but today's noon kickoff in the Friends of Coal Bowl at Milan Puskar Stadium will be, for all intents and purpose, the final meeting between instate opponents Marshall University and No. 11 West Virginia University.
"Everybody is excited about playing the first game regardless of where it is or who it is," explained second year WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen. "Obviously, I don't get too far into the future schedules and all that.
"I know there are challenges, as far as you only have three games you can play nonconference. There's all kinds of geographical reasons to play not only this game, but surrounding states, with Pitt, Maryland, Ohio, Jersey and the rest of it. That's why we have great administrators that lead us in the direction we need to go."
On the artificial surface at Mountaineer Field, that leadership will be provided by Holgorsen and his counterpart for the Thundering Herd, John 'Doc' Holliday.
"Our kids are excited to play," Holliday said. "I think we had a great camp. We have to make sure we eliminate distractions this week. We have a great opponent in West Virginia. It's a big game because it's our next game. It's our first, and our kids have worked hard since January and it's important we go play well."
A scenario that played out that way a year ago as Marshall jumped out to a 7-3 first quarter lead on an 87-punt return by Andre Booker. West Virginia answered that challenge, however, with 17 unanswered points to begin the second quarter to take a 20-10 lead into the locker rooms at the intermission.
Marshall at No. 11 West Virginia
Game time: Noon Spread: West Virginia by 24
TV/Radio: FX - (Justin Kutcher - play-by-play, Eric Crouch - analyst, Darius Walker - sideline) will broadcast the game live. Radio - Mountaineer Sports Network - (Tony Caridi - play-by-play, Dwight Wallace - analyst, Hoppy Kercheval - host, Jed Drenning - sideline) will broadcast the game live. Satellite Radio Broadcast - The West Virginia - Marshall game can be heard live on Sirius Channel 91 and the best of XM channel 91 with the MSN broadcast. Live Statistics - WVUsports.com. Twitter Updates - Twitter.com/WVUSportsScores.
Former-Parkersburg High placekicker Tyler Warner pulled the Herd to within seven points, 20-13, with 5:14 left in the third quarter. But, the Mountaineers answered moments later when junior Tavon Austin returned the ensuing kickoff 100-yards for six points.
Mother Nature then took over as severe weather forced the teams back into the locker rooms and the crowd to seek protection. When the game resumed freshman Vernard Roberts put the game away with a 1-yard plunge before the weather forced a second delay. A delay that eventually led to the game being called at 10:24 p.m.
Weather may again play a factor in today's contest as remnants from Hurricane Isaac are expected to hit Morgantown sometime today.
On the field, Heisman Trophy hopefuls Geno Smith and Austin will look to keep the Mountaineers perfect in their series with Marshall (11-0) while sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato and senior wideout Aaron Dobson attempt to ruin WVU's chances of a national championship berth before the old gold and blue enter Big 12 play.