CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You may stop now. I've heard the clamoring, the shouts and demands.I've read the tweets and emails calling for "the" columns, the ones that, it seems, have become a rite of summer in the Mountain State.The predictions are here, oh peeps. Sit back. Enjoy. Football season is upon us.On Sunday, I'll peg WVU's football season. Today, I'll X-ray Doc Holliday and Marshall's season.As followers know, I've had much success forecasting the Herd. After an off-year in 2011, I regained the touch last season, predicting a 6-6 record for a team that finished 5-7.
This year, MU's schedule load is lighter. And the expectations are much higher. As I wrote the other day, the time is now for Doc and company.Here's the call:Aug. 31, Miami, Ohio, at MU - This will be a nice early test for Marshall's revitalized secondary. Miami, picked fifth in Mid-American Conference East Division preseason poll voting, shouldn't win. It shouldn't even come close to the Thundering Herd's 33-25 win in their last meeting, 2004. But Redhawk QB Austin Boucher did turn down a late scholarship offer from Ohio State. MU, 49-20. Sept. 7, Gardner-Webb at MU - Here's the deal: FCS member Gardner-Webb is now coached by Carroll McCray, who moved from Division II North Greenville. The team had seven players on the All-Big South preseason team and was picked to finish third in the league's poll. None of which will matter here. MU will run the Runnin' Bulldogs out of Joan C. Edwards Stadium. MU, 63-17.Sept. 14, MU at Ohio - This is a huge game for Holliday. Time to prove he can both out-recruit and outwit Frank Solich, who returns 49 letterwinners and 16 starters from last season's 9-4 Bobcat team that whipped La.-Monroe in the Independence Bowl. Keys: MU's Rakeem Cato getting off to an early effective start; MU's Alex Bazzie and Jeremiah Taylor providing pressure on OU QB Tyler Tettleton. MU, 30-28.Sept. 21, MU at Virginia Tech - The Hokies are picked to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division, but received just one vote to win the conference. There are many unanswered questions in Blacksburg. Certainly, Tech QB Logan Thomas will have success against MU. But Marshall could very well win this game. Give the hosts the edge, though, because of Lane Stadium and Bud Foster's defense. VT, 35-24.Oct. 5, UTSA at MU -
Texas-San Antonio is such a fledgling program it's not yet a full FBS member and not eligible for a bowl. What's interesting: the team nickname (Roadrunners), the coach (ex-Miami, Fla., coach Larry Coker) and the QB (Eric Soza). Otherwise, not much. Also, MU gets a week off before this one. MU, 42-10. Oct. 12, MU at FAU - Florida Atlantic's coach, Carl Pelini, is the brother of and was the defensive coordinator for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. Carl is very excited about QB Melvin German. Holliday and his Florida recruits, though, will be right at home in Boca Raton. MU, 40-20.Oct. 24, MU at Middle Tennessee - This will be an interesting game. MTSU was picked to finish third in Marshall's C-USA East division and, in fact, had a vote to win it. The game will be held on a Thursday in Murfreesboro and QB Logan Kilgore and back Jordan Parker are nice weapons. MU's Kevin Grooms should have room to run against a Blue Raider defensive line hurt by dismissals. Both teams will have 12 days between games. MTSU, 28-27.Nov. 2, Southern Miss at MU - Again, Marshall will have an extended break between games, this time nine days. Todd Monken (who took WVU's Dana Holgorsen's place as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State) is in his first season at Southern Miss. He'll help a Golden Eagle team that went 0-12 last season. Just not enough. MU, 52-30.Nov. 9, UAB at MU - This is another game in which Marshall's defensive line can assert itself. Last season, UAB's line (which returns four starters) allowed 42 sacks. Oddly, the Blazers defeated Marshall by 38-31 in that season. Don't expect a repeat this year in Huntington. MU, 41-24.Nov. 14, MU at Tulsa - Both Marshall and Tulsa, the overwhelming favorite to win the C-USA West Division, will be coming off short weeks - five days between games. Tulsa is at home, but will be coming off a game at East Carolina. Against a good Golden Hurricane defense last season, MU scored 38 points in a loss. And Tulsa lost much there. The Golden Hurricane offense returns Nebraska transfer Cody Green at QB and standout back Trey Watts. Still . . . MU 48, Tulsa 30. Nov. 23, MU at FIU - Nine days after the Tulsa game, Marshall will play a Florida International program that returns but six full-time starters from last season. It's a program that stupidly fired Mario Cristobal (now the offensive line coach at Alabama) and replaced him with Ron Turner. Stupid is as stupid does. MU, 38-17.Nov. 29, East Carolina at MU - When these two East Division contenders meet on a Friday at noon, they'll both have just six days between games. That works to Marshall's favor. The Herd will be coming off the FIU game, while ECU will be coming off a game at North Carolina State. Also, the Pirate secondary is a glaring question mark. Look, though, for a serious offensive slugfest led by MU's Cato and ECU QB Shane Carden. MU, 48-42.
Final MU regular season record: 10-2, C-USA East title.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.