Marshall’s History Of Hosting P5 Opponents At Joan C. Edwards Stadium

Marshall has been playing home football games at Joan C. Edwards Stadium since 1991 and on Saturday night, a rare occurrence only seen a few times since the stadium’s inception will take place.

The Thundering Herd will play host to the ACC’s North Carolina State Wolfpack in a battle between two teams that sit at 2-0 on the season.  NC State’s visit to Edwards Stadium marks a type of game that Huntington, West Virginia hasn’t been able to see much over the years.

This game marks the first visit from a Power Five conference opponent to Edwards Stadium since 2016 and will go down as one of the biggest home games in stadium history.  But when looking back at how many times the Herd has been fortunate enough to host a power conference opponent, it becomes that much rarer.

The first power conference opponent, at the time of the specific game, that ever visited Edwards Stadium was when the Temple Owls visited in 1999 when they were still in the Big East.  Despite Temple’s power conference classification at the time, the Owls were no match for the powerful 1999 Thundering Herd.

Marshall left no doubt in front of a then sold-out crowd of 30,194 and blanked Temple 34-0.  To put that game in perspective a bit, the Herd finished the 1999 season at 13-0 overall with a MAC Championship, Motor City Bowl victory, and final national ranking of 10th in the AP Poll.  The Owls finished 1999 at just 2-9 overall.

Another power conference team wouldn’t cross paths with the Herd in Huntington again until 2005 when the biggest home game in Edwards Stadium history up to that point took place.  The Kansas State Wildcats of the Big XII visited Marshall and a then Edwards Stadium record crowd of 36,914 fans witnessed a game that went down to the wire.

However, a late turnover in field goal range down two spelled doom for the Herd and Kansas State escaped with a 21-19 win.  Marshall’s debut season in C-USA wouldn’t turn out much better after that Kansas State game and the Herd finished the 2005 season at 4-7 overall, breaking the streak of 21 straight winning regular seasons dating back to 1984.  The Wildcats finished 2005 at 5-6 overall.

It would only take two more years until another power conference team visited Edwards Stadium, this time in the form of in-state foe and Big East member West Virginia.  The Mountaineers came into Edwards Stadium ranked No. 3 in the country and riding high with Heisman Trophy hopefuls Pat White and Steve Slaton.

The Herd would ride the momentum of the then-record crowd of 40,383 into a 13-6 halftime lead, but WVU would respond in the second half.  Marshall only trailed 27-23 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Mountaineers were too much in the fourth quarter and pulled away for a 48-23 win over the Herd.

WVU finished the 2007 season at 11-2 overall with a co-Big East Championship, Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma, and final national ranking of No. 6 in the AP Poll.  Marshall wouldn’t fair very well in 2007, however, finishing just 3-9 overall after starting the season 0-7 with a home loss to FCS member New Hampshire.

The 2008 season the Herd get another crack at a Big East team at Edwards Stadium when the Cincinnati Bearcats visited.  Marshall was within six points at 16-10 early in the third quarter, but the Bearcats put it away from that point on and walked away with a 33-10 win over the Herd in front of 29,237 fans at Edwards Stadium.

Cincinnati finished the 2008 season at 11-3 overall with a Big East Championship, Orange Bowl appearance, and a final national ranking of 17th in the AP Poll.  Marshall finished 2008 at 4-8 overall after a 1-7 finish to the season after getting off to a 3-1 start.

Marshall would have to wait until 2010 before another power conference team visited Edwards Stadium, but it would come in a familiar face of the Big East’s West Virginia Mountaineers.  In Doc Holliday’s first home game as head coach of the Herd, one of the biggest games in Marshall football history took place.

In front of a record 41,382 fans that still stands to this day, Marshall took on then-No. 23 WVU and was on the brink of history, leading the Mountaineers 21-6 mid-way through the fourth quarter.  However, the Herd was unable to close the door and WVU managed to send the game into overtime where it would prevail 24-21.

The Herd finished the 2010 season at 5-7 overall while the Mountaineers finished 9-4 overall with a co-Big East Championship.  The next power conference opponent that visited Huntington was only a year later when the ACC made its first-ever visit to Edwards Stadium.

The Virginia Tech Hokies came into Edwards Stadium ranked No. 13 in the country in 2011 to battle the Herd and the Hokies proved to be too much for Marshall.  Virginia Tech maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the game before finishing off a 30-10 victory in front of 34,424 fans at Edwards Stadium.

The Hokies finished 2011 at 11-3 overall with an ACC Coastal Division Championship, Sugar Bowl appearance, and final national ranking of No. 21 in the AP Poll while the Herd finished 2011 at 7-6 overall with a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl victory.

Marshall’s next crack at hosting a power conference team came in 2015 when the Big Ten made its first-ever visit to Huntington in the form of the Purdue Boilermakers.  Edwards Stadium saw a sellout crowd of 38,791 lead the Herd to an electrifying, come-from-behind 41-31 victory to mark the program’s first-ever win over a team from the Big Ten conference.

Purdue finished 2015 at 2-10 overall while the Herd finished 10-3 with a St. Petersburg Bowl victory.  The following year saw the ACC once again return to Edwards Stadium when the Louisville Cardinals came to town in a game many called the biggest home game in Edwards Stadium history.

Louisville headed into Huntington as the No. 3 ranked team in the country led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals made sure they wouldn’t fall victim to an upset.  The second largest crowd in Edwards Stadium history of 40,592 saw Jackson and company defeat the Herd 59-28.

The Cardinals finished the 2016 season at 9-4 overall with a final national ranking of No. 21 in the AP Poll while Marshall finished just 3-9 overall.  Marshall is 2-6 in games played at Edwards Stadium against power conference opponents, but the Herd will get another shot Saturday when NC State comes to town to complete the home-and-home series that began in 2017 with a Wolfpack win in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Both Marshall and NC State head into this game at 2-0 overall after both teams had games canceled in Week 3 due to Hurricane Florence.  This is shaping up to be a special game for Marshall football and a huge crowd is likely for the Herd’s Stripe the Stadium game.  Former Marshall quarterback Reggie Oliver will also be honored on Saturday after his passing in August.

Everything is lined up for a historic night in Huntington when the Herd looks to get an upset win over an ACC team.  Marshall and NC State kickoff at 7 p.m. ET Saturday and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

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