Big Ten finally makes debut in Huntington

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The Marshall football program will be in an unfamiliar situation this Sunday when the Purdue Boilermakers come to town.

            Purdue will be the first Big Ten Conference football team to make a trip to Huntington in Marshall football history, and the game will be the first time in program history Marshall will open the season at home on a Sunday.

The Herd is 0-5 all-time against Big Ten competition; however, all of those games were away from the friendly confines of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, a place where the Herd is 142-26 since the stadium opened in 1991.  That is good for a .845 winning percentage, which is the third best home winning percentage of any FBS program.

There is no denying the significance of this game and the excitement continues to grow throughout the whole Marshall community.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Marshall Head Coach Doc Holliday said.  “It’s the first time in the history of the school a Big Ten team is coming in here so I know the fans are excited, our community is excited, and I know our players are.”

Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick, who scheduled the home-and-home series with the Boilermakers that began in 2012, shares the same enthusiasm about the game.

“To get a team like Purdue with their tradition, their name, the quality opponent that they will be from arguably one of the best conferences in college football, I think it’s a compliment to Marshall, it’s a compliment to Huntington, it’s a compliment to everybody who supports our football program, and it’s a compliment to our football program that a Big Ten team would come here and play us,” Hamrick said.  “We’re really looking forward to it.”

According to Jason Corriher, the assistant athletic director for Media Relations at Marshall, Purdue’s visit to Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be just the seventh visit from a “Power 5” conference team since Marshall made its return to major college football in 1997, compiling a 1-5 record in those games.  This will be the first time a “Power 5” opponent will make a visit to Huntington since Virginia Tech in 2011.

“I think it’s a great tribute to our program,” Holliday said.  “It’s a great tribute to Mike Hamrick and what he’s had the opportunity to do because we’ve got Purdue coming in here, a year down the road we’ve got Louisville coming, we’ve got NC State coming, we’ve got Pitt coming, we’ve got Navy coming, so it’s just a tribute that they think enough of Marshall University to come here and play us in our stadium, and I think it’s a great opportunity for our program and it says a lot about where our program is going.”

Hamrick said the game will open up many opportunities for the football program.  “The game’s on national TV, it’s on a Sunday and no other college games are on TV that day, so if you’re looking to watch college football, you’re going to watch Marshall play Purdue. So it puts us at a level where we’re perceived at the same level as a Big Ten team,” he said.

“It will help us significantly from a recruiting standpoint, not just for athletics, but for the university because it exposes Marshall to potential students,” he said.  “It’s just a great opportunity to bring the entire Marshall family together.”

Marshall is encouraging all fans to wear kelly green for the “15 Green Acres Kelly Green Out” promotion.  The Herd and the Boilermakers kickoff at 3 p.m. on Sunday in front of a national TV audience on Fox Sports 1.

My prediction is Marshall will defeat Purdue 38-24.