How The Herd Can Beat The Irish


Shauntelle Thompson

Junior Owen Porter returns a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown.

Zach Bollinger, Sports Columnist

It’s not senior prom, but Marshall finally gets their date with Notre Dame in South Bend this Saturday. Marshall will enter the game as 19 and a half point underdogs to the Fighting Irish, who are coming off a tough 21-10 defeat at the hands of the number two team in the country- the Ohio State Buckeyes. Nonetheless, The Irish will enter this week’s matchup against the Thundering Herd as a top 10 team in the nation, setting up a David and Goliath type matchup… but maybe that’s precisely what Marshall wants.

Marshall enters this week after a dominating 55-3 win against Norfolk State, but as soon as the final whistle blew Saturday in the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the Herd’s focus shifted to their most significant task of the season- knocking off Notre Dame in South Bend. A job much easier said than done, the Herd will have to play a near-perfect game to compete with the perennial top 5 program- here’s how they can do it.

Win the Turnover Battle

You’ll hear coaches preaching ball security at every level, everywhere from pop warner to the NFL, and that’s precisely what Marshall will need to do- hold onto the football. The Herd played a pretty clean game against Norfolk State- the lone turnover being a Henry Colombi interception in the 2nd quarter but will need to hold onto the ball extra tight against a stout Notre Dame defense that only allowed 14 points to Ohio State through three quarters.

On the other side, to win the turnover battle, you need to create turnovers- which is no easy task against a team who did not have a single turnover against the number two team in the country last weekend. The Herd defense came up big against Norfolk State, only allowing three points and creating their bit of scoring on an Owen Porter scoop and score in the 2nd quarter. The defense will have to show up Saturday and pick up exactly where they left off- attacking the ball from when it is snapped. Marshall’s defense combined for ten tackles for loss and two sacks and will need to keep up the pressure in the front seven if they want to throw off this Notre Dame offense.

Keep Being Efficient

The sixth-year Senior QB Henry Colombi wasted no time on Saturday proving that Coach Huff had made the right decision by throwing for 205 yards and completing 24 of 26 pass attempts- that’s really good! Colombi will need to keep showing his ability to find the open receiver against a Notre Dame secondary that allowed just 223 passing yards from the Heisman favorite, C.J. Stroud.

The running game once again proved to be Marshall’s bread and butter- rushing for 380 yards on 51 attempts Saturday- led by Sophomore runningback Ethan Payne who had 113 by himself. Not having Rasheen Ali could hurt the running game, but this running back group has once again proven that they have plenty of talent in the room.

Win Third Downs

Marshall’s defense held Norfolk State to just 1-12 on third down attempts Saturday leading to short drives and a significant discrepancy in time of possession- Marshall had the ball for almost 13 more minutes than Norfolk State did. By getting off the field on third downs, the Marshall defense allows themselves the opportunity to stay rested and allows the offense to wear down the opposing protection. It’s hard to score points if you don’t have success on third down, and if Marshall’s defense wants to keep Notre Dame in reach, they will need to get off the field every opportunity they get.

Fear Nobody

We can spend all week talking about the rankings, talking about the stats, the scorebook’s predictions, and how Marshall can win a game that on paper they shouldn’t- but when 2:30 hits on Saturday, the game won’t be played on paper. Saturday is 11 vs. 11 football. No one gets a head start and extra points because of their ranking going into the game. If Marshall can hold onto the football, make the plays that are there, get off the field when given a chance, and fly to the football each play, then they have a chance to win this ballgame… and at the end of the day, isn’t that all you ask for verse Goliath?