Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 2, 2013

Thundering Herd, favored by 31 1/2, not taking Southern Miss lightly

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BECKLEY — Southern Miss has its share of athletes and desperately wants to win a game, which, in spite of its record, makes it a dangerous opponent in Marshall coach Doc Holliday’s eyes.

The Thundering Herd returns home today for the first time in nearly a month to host the Golden Eagles. Kickoff from Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be noon, with CBS Sports Network televising.

Marshall (4-3, 2-1 Conference USA) has had a few extra days to simmer over its last game, a 51-49 last-second loss at Middle Tennessee State on a Thursday night. Holliday and Co. have not played in Huntington since its win over UTSA on Oct. 5.

“I can assure you our kids are glad to be playing back at home in front of the home crowd,” Holliday said.

On paper, this looks like a walkover for the Herd. Southern Miss (0-7, 0-3) has lost 19 straight games, ranks at or near the bottom of the league in almost every category and is playing for its second head coach in as many seasons. But Holliday warns the Eagles cannot be taken lightly.

“Southern Miss is similar to Florida Atlantic because they have a prime location to attract very good athletes,” he said. “They are a team that we have to be well prepared for. ... You have to take a look at the schedule they’ve had to play as well. Three of their first four games were at Nebraska, at Arkansas and at Boise State.

“With first-year head coach Todd Monken going in there after losing 12 straight games the year before, I’m sure he wasn’t real excited to take a look at that schedule. It’s hard to boost the confidence following that, but they have tremendous talent on that team.”

Offensively, Holliday points to running back Kendrick Hardy as one of the Eagles’ top threats. He has 202 yards on 47 carries for Southern Miss, which has only one rushing touchdown all season.

On defense, Holliday is high on nose guard Khyri Thornton. He has 28 tackles, including 4.5 for loss.

“They continue to play hard and I expect them to come in here ready to play against us on Saturday,” Holliday said.

Marshall is a 31 1/2-point favorite.

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Parking lots for today’s game will open at 7 a.m., stadium ticket windows at 9:30 a.m. and stadium gates at 10:30 a.m.

The 1998 team, which won the Mid-American Conference championship and beat Louisville in the Motor City Bowl, will be honored.

— E-mail: gfauber@