Column: This game matters

Shannon Stowers, Assistant Sports Editor

Well, here we are. It’s that week in November that means more than all of the others during college football season for Thundering Herd fans and the Huntington community.

Friday, the Memorial Fountain will be turned off, as it is every Nov. 14, and Saturday, the Herd will play a football game. It won’t be just any football game either, not with the emotions swirling in the stands, and the team that will be standing on the visitor’s sidelines.

The Rice University Owls are the last team to beat the Herd, winning 41-24 in last season’s Conference USA championship.

The significance of this weekend alone should be enough to draw fans to Joan C. Edwards Stadium Saturday, never mind the fact that the Herd will be facing arguably the second-hottest team in C-USA. Winners of six straight, the Owls are no bums and neither are Herd fans.

I know that because I’ve grown up going to games during what many seasoned fans refer to as the golden era of Marshall University football; when teams like Youngstown State University in 1992, the undefeated 1996 University of Montana Grizzlies and pretty much any team from the Mid Atlantic Conference left Huntington with a loss.

What makes those seasons memorable, besides the outcomes on the field, was the atmosphere in the stands.

Now don’t get me wrong, Herd fans have shown up well this season. Just over 28,500 fans, on average, have filled the Joan in the Herd’s four home games this season (compared to 28,673 the last time Marshall had an undefeated team). The student section and the band have been phenomenal, the slow-motion wave is priceless.

However, I’m challenging everyone in Huntington, including students, to show up again Saturday.

Show up a little earlier and cheer a little louder, because I know when that happens, the Herd does some pretty special things. Like in 1997 when over 32,000 people watched the Herd beat an 8-2 Ohio University team 27-0 Nov. 15.

Head coach Doc Holliday said it’s what his team does in November that people remember. The same is true for the fans.

It’s Rice, it’s the anniversary and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to be one of the 30,000-plus people who honor the past and celebrate the present.

Shannon Stowers can be contacted at [email protected].