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Herd may try for another bowl

The Associated Press

An 8-0 record has prompted discussion about whether No.

Tuesday, November 02, 1999

An 8-0 record has prompted discussion about whether No. 13 Marshall, if it wins its third straight Mid-American Conference title, must accept the MAC’s automatic bid to the Dec. 27 bowl at Pontiac, Mich.

It’s possible the Thundering Herd could swap places with a team from a higher-profile bowl. For Motor City Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman, that might be like trading in a Mercedes for a Yugo.

”If they go undefeated, they’re going to be ranked 11, 10, 9 in the country,” Hoffman said. ”And you don’t let a team ranked that high get away from you unless there’s a compelling reason.”

Yet any swap with another bowl likely would have to make for ”two better games than we had before,” he said. A MAC vs. Big Ten matchup would be ideal.

Marshall also could go to a bowl which does not have enough qualifying teams from its conference tie-in. That would leave the Motor City Bowl to offer a spot to the MAC runner-up.

Other bowls might jump at the chance to have a marquee player like quarterback Chad Pennington, who has thrown for 26 touchdowns and 2,589 yards this year.

So far, only scouts from the Micron PC Bowl in Miami Dec. 30 and the Mobile Alabama Bowl Dec. 22 have attended Marshall games.

”It’s nice to think we could play in a different bowl,” Pennington said.

A less likely scenario is if Marshall finishes in the top 12 of the Bowl Championship Series rankings. It then would be eligible for one of two at-large spots to either the Orange, Fiesta or Rose Bowls.

However, those spots likely would be given to schools with higher profiles and tougher schedules.

”They’re not as strong as a Tennessee or a Nebraska or a Virginia Tech,” Hoffman said. ”Last year, Tulane goes 12-0 and did not get selected for one of the two at-large spots because you’ve got some bigger, more recognizable schools that are vying for those two positions.”

Marshall coach Bob Pruett said, ”We’ll play anywhere we can. If we can get to the Ford Motor City Bowl, we’ll be extremely pleased. That means we’ll have won the conference.”

Marshall has regular season games left against Kent, Western Michigan and Ohio. If it wins its division, it would qualify for the MAC championship game at home Dec. 3.

A loss in the title game would free Marshall from its Motor City Bowl obligation and enable it to play elsewhere. However, Miami, Ohio, finished 10-1 last year and was not invited to a bowl.