HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Heavy hearts engulf Marshall University every Nov. 14. That's the date in 1970 when an airplane crash claimed 75 lives, including 37 members of the Thundering Herd football team and eight members of the coaching staff.
Tonight's game scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., will mark the first time Marshall plays a road game on that very same day.
"Our kids understand the history and what it is all about," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "Our kids have always been at every memorial service and they understand from the moment they walk on campus what happened in 1970.
"They understand how important this football program is to the community, fan base and school because of what happened in 1970. They don't need to be reminded, but they will be."
Current Marshall players won't have the opportunity to share in the memorial service this year, but with the assistance of technology the events scheduled for Huntington, W.Va., will be streamed into the hotel for the football team.
"I think it's a great opportunity for them and our program to be able to share with the rest of the country what the program is all about," Holliday said.
Tulsa opened the season with an impressive pedigree. The Golden Hurricane finished 7-1 last year in Conference USA and 11-3 overall after defeating Iowa State 31-17 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. That success translated in the C-USA Coach of the Year award for Bill Blankenship.
This season, however, has been a rough time for a Tulsa squad which is 2-7 and 1-4 in C-USA following three straight losses.
Trey Watts is Tulsa's leading ground gainer at 857 yards. Cody Green (114-of-203 for 1,312 yards and seven touchdowns) is expected to return as the starting quarterback after missing last week's 58-24 loss at East Carolina.
"Tulsa does some of the same plays that we saw from UAB last week," Holliday said. "The UAB game was a very physical game. From their offensive and defensive standpoint, I know it will be a physical game (Thursday). It will be the same type of game to a certain extent."
Marshall (6-3, 4-1) is coming off a dominating performance in its 56-14 win at home against UAB. For the first time in school history, three running backs (Steward Butler, Essray Taliaferro and Kevin Grooms) surpassed 100 yards rushing in the same game.
"Running backs coach Thomas Brown has done a tremendous job with them," Holliday said. "He's done great coaching them with the proper steps and timing."
The victory also moved Holliday's coaching record at Marshall to .500 at 23-23 for the first time since he arrived for the start of the 2010 season.
"We talked a few weeks ago about playing our best football in November and I think we are playing our best football right now," Holliday said. "There isn't a lot of waiting around now. We are just teeing it up and going again.
"I like this team. I like the way they've prepared and the way they've handled themselves."