Herd to play Toledo before SRO crowd

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 13, 2000

The Associated Press

Before what could be the largest crowd in Mid-American Conference history, Marshall takes on Toledo in the Glass Bowl on Saturday night.

Friday, October 13, 2000

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Before what could be the largest crowd in Mid-American Conference history, Marshall takes on Toledo in the Glass Bowl on Saturday night.

Even though as many as 37,000 fans could fill the permanent seating – and temporary grandstands put up just for the occasion – Marshall coach Bob Pruett wants to point out an elemental fact of football.

”It’s the people on the field who make the difference,” he said.

No one knows which team has the better people. Even though both were picked in the preseason to win their respective MAC divisions, neither appears to be a front-runner midway through the season.

Despite being one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the season, it has almost no bearing on deciding the MAC champion. This year, the first consideration in determining the MAC’s division champions is record within the division. The second is head-to-head matchups between the divisional rivals.

Since Toledo is in the West and Marshall is in the East, the only way the game will be factored in is if it is necessary to break a tie by moving to the third tie-breaker, overall conference winning percentage.

Toledo (5-1) lost its biggest game to date, a 21-14 setback at Western Michigan. That loss has forced the Rockets into comeback mode: not only do they need to win out, but they also need the Broncos to lose twice to keep their West hopes alive.

Since their one loss, the Rockets have won twice by a combined score of 83-14.

Marshall is 2-3 for the first time since 1987. Another loss would mark the Thundering Herd’s worst start since the 1983 team lost five its first six games.

The Thundering Herd lost to Western Michigan 30-10 last week at home in yet another game of conference titans that probably won’t count in division races.

This is a brave, new world for Marshall fans.

”I’ve had some people say that in the past they were sick and tired of going to games that were a foregone conclusion before the kickoff. Well, guys, you’ve got your wish,” Pruett said with a laugh. ”Sometimes you might get what you wish for. I didn’t wish for it.”

Marshall has won all three meetings with Toledo since the Thundering Herd joined the MAC. The Rockets have not forgotten.

”I don’t think you have to say much about this game because our players have tremendous respect for Marshall,” Toledo coach Gary Pinkel said.

”They beat us in the first two championship games and last year again beat us down at their place. They outplayed us in all three of those games. There’s certainly added incentive there. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Pinkel said.

Pruett said he has little doubt that the game means a lot to the Rockets.

”For three years now, they’ve been pointing to this ball game,” he said. He added that was the same way it was when the Herd played Western Michigan.

Pruett downplayed the large crowd in Toledo, saying that a partisan crowd didn’t help the Herd against Western.

But Pinkel said he was thrilled to finally get Marshall on his own turf.

”If you ask me if I’d rather play them at home or play back down in West Virginia, I’m very glad we’re playing in the Glass Bowl,” he said.

In other MAC games Saturday, Ball State (1-4) shoots for a two-game winning streak after ending its 21-game losing streak last week when it plays host to Eastern Michigan (1-5); Bowling Green (1-5) plays at Miami (3-3); Ohio (3-3) is at Kent State (1-5). Those are all divisional matchups. In the other intradivision game, Northern Illinois (3-2) visits Akron (4-2).