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Blackney, Pruett praise each other

The Associated Press

Based on the words of the coaches, Bowling Green’s Mid-American Conference showdown at Marshall Saturday could end up a scoreless tie.

Friday, September 17, 1999

Based on the words of the coaches, Bowling Green’s Mid-American Conference showdown at Marshall Saturday could end up a scoreless tie.

Bowling Green’s Gary Blackney thinks Marshall is terrific. Marshall coach Bob Pruett thinks Bowling Green is terrific.

Somebody has to be wrong.

”Hopefully we’ll be able to compete with those guys,” Pruett said.

Asked what will happen if he doesn’t solve what he considers his team’s myriad problems, Blackney said bleakly, ”We’re in a world of hurt.”

The Thundering Herd (2-0) is favored by 22 points, but Blackney spoke as if that’s not enough.

”They don’t have a weakness,” he said.

Blackney called Marshall ”the finest football team that I’ve ever seen” in his nine years in the MAC.

That all may be true. Marshall might clip the Falcons’ wings. But how can there be that big a disparity considering the 5-6 Falcons handed the 12-1 Thundering Herd their only loss by a 34-13 score less than a year ago?

Blackney, however, has so little regard for his team’s running attack – ”the one disappointment I have right now in our program” – that he said there is no way the Falcons can play keepaway from the Herd.

”Last year we played extremely well and they had to go on the road,” he said. ”We weren’t a very good football team when we played them, but a lot of things went right. We were able to come away with an upset.

”But that isn’t going to happen this year. We’re not sneaking up on them.”

Marshall was ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll this week, the first time the school has made the rankings since joining Division I-A.

While Blackney questioned his offense’s desire, Marshall coach Bob Pruett underplays the strength of his powerhouse.

”We were glad to get away with a win against Liberty on Saturday,” he said.

Note: Marshall 63, Liberty 3.

Pruett also said that the Falcons aren’t exactly a bunch of wallflowers when they run the ball, either.

”They’re one of the better running teams around,” he said.

Pruett makes it sound as if the humble, hard-working Herd just might possibly be able to scrape out a win if things fall right.

”We don’t have much margin for error,” said Pruett, 39-4 in four years with Marshall. ”We have to play really good every day and in every ballgame because if we stub our toe we drop too far.”

The truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.

Bowling Green outscored Tennessee Tech 40-15 last week and played Pittsburgh on relatively even terms before falling 30-10 in the opener. The Panthers then turned around and almost bit No. 2-ranked Penn State before losing 20-17.

Marshall is stocked with talent and likely hasn’t forgotten last year’s loss to the Falcons. Don’t count on the Herd looking past Bowling Green to next week’s game with Temple.

MAC FAX: Toledo plays at Ball State for the early lead in the MAC’s West Division. ”We’ve had some pretty wild games here,” Cardinals coach Bill Lynch said of the crazy 10-9 and 31-30 wins in 1992 and 1993. … Kent has lost 15 in a row and is a 33-point underdog at Pittsburgh. Ohio State is favored by 43 over Ohio, and Central Michigan is a 38-point underdog at Purdue. … Miami of Ohio lost at West Virginia 43-27 Saturday. Coach Terry Hoeppner said the RedHawks, who host Eastern Michigan this week, were devastated: ”How do you react when you expect to win a game and you don’t win it? It’s different when you go into a place like that and say, ‘Well, we hope we hang in there.’ We haven’t done that for a while around here.” … Other non-conference games include Temple at Akron, Buffalo at Connecticut, Western Michigan at Missouri and Northern Illinois at Iowa.