Ahhhhhhh.... the big day is finally here! It signifies a lot of things. West Virginia's only two FBS level football schools square off in the "Big Coal Political Action Committee Annual Football Game" (actually it's the Friends of Coal Bowl), but we'll just call it the Coal Bowl for short. This game signifies the end of the loudest week in the state of West Virgina as Marshall fans have proclaimed all week long that this is a big game and WVU fans loudly protest that it is not. You know my take on it: they'be both nuts.
Things to look for in this game:
-Marshall first year head coach Doc Holliday squares off against his former employer. All week both teams have played down what an advantage this may or may not be for the Herd. Make no mistake though, Doc recruited a huge portion of the WVU squad, so his pre-game assessment of what WVU's squad is capable of will be the best the Mountaineers face all season.
-Despite only being one week into the season, WVU's already a little dinged up. Starting MLB Pat Lazear won't play, and his backup Branko Busick is also listed as doubtful. Presumably this means that Anthony Leonard will slide over to the middle and Najee Good will start in his place. Tight End Tyler Urban is doubtful, and lineman Cole Bowers is probably. Since Bowers plays on the right side, at guard or tackle, and we had little success running that way against Coastal Carolina, I expect to see more rushing to the left again this week.
I fully expect the Mountaineers to roll this evening. Marshall will keep it tight through the first quarter or so, but then the Mountaineer Defense will be so stifling that they aren't able to move the ball at all. I expect WVU to run a simplistic version of their offense, essentially just running the ball down the Herd's throat, at least until they're able to stop them. I expect to hear the names Noel Devine and Ryan Clarke called early and often. I doubt the score will get too out of hand, but I think somewhere in the range of 27-6 sounds about right to me.
I'm heading to a game watching party, but I'll have the laptop with me, so stay tuned the rest of the night for updates and insights as the game progresses....