While Marshall is off to its best start in six seasons, Florida Atlantic has barely gotten its collective feet off the ground during this unique and uncertain 2020 campaign.
The No. 22 Thundering Herd aim to go 5-0 when they host FAU in a Conference USA contest on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.
For the first time since 2014, Marshall (4-0, 2-0 in Conference USA) is undefeated through its first four games. It's the Thundering Herd's best start since going 11-0 in 2014. That season, the program went 13-1 and won its most recent Conference USA title.
"There's so much love here," safety Derrek Pitts told Marshall's official website.
"Nobody is out for themselves. Everybody wants it for everybody else. I love competing, and this is a team that competes all of the time."
The Herd can thank a strong defensive showing for their early success. They've allowed 38 total points while yielding an average of 272.8 yards. Marshall held Louisiana Tech to just seven total rushing yards and recorded six sacks in last weekend's 35-17 road victory.
"We've had the opportunity to make teams one-dimensional," Marshall coach Doc Holliday told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "We've stopped the run and obviously got pressure on the quarterback."
Offensively, Marshall is averaging 213.8 yards on the ground while scoring 37.3 points per contest. Running back Brenden Knox has rushed for 455 yards and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, quarterback Grant Wells threw two of his six touchdown passes this season against Louisiana Tech.
Knox ran for 220 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 36 seconds remaining, in last season's 36-31 win at Florida Atlantic. The Thundering Herd are 6-1 all-time against FAU and will be looking for a third consecutive victory in this series.
COVID-19 issues inside the program and among its opponents have hindered FAU's season thus far. The Owls have played just one game during the Willie Taggart era, winning 21-17 over league-foe Charlotte back on Oct. 3.
They enter this contest coming off an open week that has certainly left Taggart's players itching to get back on the field. And, definitely eager to build on their initial victory that seems like a lifetime ago.
"It's tough because we want to play so bad," running back James Charles told Florida Atlantic's official website. "We can only control what we can control. That's our attitude.
"We have to keep having that drive. Which I know we will. ... We know what we have to do. It is all about us. It has never been about the opponent."
Paced by Charles, Larry McCammon III and quarterback Nick Tronti, the Owls totaled 217 rushing yards while rallying from a 10-0 hole to beat Charlotte. Tronti, who rushed for 94 of those yards, threw for two touchdown passes. Defensively, FAU held Charlotte to just 82 rushing yards.
"Keep pushing each other and keep having that same drive whether we have a game or not," Charles added. "We know what's at stake. We want to win a conference championship."
--Field Level Media
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