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Virginia Tech football: A closer look at the Marshall Thundering Herd

The Hokies will have their hands full on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Marshall at Southern Mississippi
Marshall QB Isaiah Green
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies host the Marshall Thundering Herd in Lane Stadium on Saturday in what is a makeup game for both teams. The Hokies had a home game in September with East Carolina that was canceled and reached a deal with Marshall to replace ECU on the schedule, contingent only on the Hokies beating Virginia last week.

Well, Tech beat UVA—again—and now Marshall comes to town.

The Herd are already bowl-eligible, entering this weekend’s game at 8-3 and finished in second place in the Conference USA. The Thundering Herd don’t have what most would say is a standout win and lost games to Middle Tennessee, Southern Mississippi and N.C. State. The Wolfpack were ranked when they defeated the Herd.

Interestingly enough, the two teams did have a common opponent in 2018. Care to guess who that opponent was?

Old Dominion.

Yes, that’s right. Tech’s most embarrassing loss in many years is a team that Marshall beat handily, 42-20, back in October. Marshall and ODU happen to be conference rivals.

The Thundering Herd enter this game ranked No. 18 in total defense, allowing 324 yards per game and 4.6 yards per play. Marshall is particularly strong against the run, ranking No. 6 in rushing defense. Opponents are averaging a meager 2.6 yards per carry against the Thundering Herd. Those are pretty impressive numbers, however, they haven’t faced a dynamic rushing team all season.

Of course, the Hokies aren’t going to remind anyone of a dynamic rushing attack either. Tech was able to run the ball against UVA last week and this is a matchup to watch on Saturday.

Offensively, this isn’t Marshall’s best team. The Herd rank just No. 88 in total offense, which is a bit of a surprise. But don’t take those numbers for granted, though, as the Thundering Herd have some capable players at the skill positions led by quarterback Isaiah Green. Green is completing 56 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns.

Marshall’s top offensive weapons are running back Tyler King, who has rushed for over 600 yards on the season and averages over six yards per carry. At receiver, the Hokies could have their hands full with 6’3” senior Tyre Brady. Brady leads the Herd with 64 receptions for 890 yards and nine touchdowns. The Hokies have seen Brady before as he began his career with the Miami Hurricanes.

The Hokies lead the series, 10-2, and the two teams last played in 2013 in Blacksburg. Tech won that game 29-21, but it took three overtimes to get it done. Will that be the case on Saturday?

Marshall has some deep Hokie connections. Defensive tackles coach J.C. Price played for the Hokies in the early 90s when the current bowl streak began. Defensive ends coach Cornell Brown was also on that team and Brown had a recent run as an assistant for the Hokies. He, of course, is one of the greatest players in Virginia Tech history and his number is proudly displayed at Lane Stadium.

This game should be a fun one even if it is not the December game Hokie fans wanted back in September.