Marshall Virginia Tech Football

Virginia Tech’s Tre Turner (25) beats Marshall’s Jestin Morrow (22) on a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Willis in the Hokies' win last December.

Incredulous.

It was the first word that came to mind after reading Sports Illustrated’s recent story concerning the Marshall University-Virginia Tech football game late in the 2018 season.

Such other nearby words as ludicrous, preposterous and outrageous followed close after.

After reading current Virginia Tech players’ claims that a group of Hokies were strongly recommending teammates to throw the game against Marshall, what other reaction is possible?

Throw the game, indeed.

Considering the Hokies led the Thundering Herd 31-6 at halftime in Lane Stadium and the game was over for all intents and purposes, the “throw the game” premise is a tough sell.

A very tough sell.

In fact, it’s ridiculous.

The only throwing in that game was by Virginia Tech quarterback Ryan Willis, who scorched Marshall’s secondary for touchdown passes to four different wide receivers in the first half.

One of those wideouts — freshman Tre Turner — caught a 45-yard touchdown pass. He also spoke with Sports Illustrated.

“Do not catch a touchdown,” Turner said he was told by one of his teammates prior to the game. “If you catch a touchdown, I’m going to have to fight you.”

Obviously, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Turner wasn’t intimidated.

The same seems to be true for tight end Dalton Keene, who says he heard players say they’d rather lose and wrap up the season than extend Virginia Tech’s nation-leading bowl streak to 26 years.

“Well, if we lose we can go home early and don’t have to go to a bowl game,” Keene told SI that he overheard a teammate say at the team hotel before playing Marshall.

Considering Virginia Tech coasted to a 41-20 victory over Marshall that day, the dissidents among the Hokies obviously didn’t have much support.

Or say so.

I covered that game on December 1, 2018 and simply don’t buy this premise. And I have company. A player who starred on the 2018 Marshall team also disputed the notion that Virginia Tech showed any inclination toward throwing the game.

“I agree, that’s absurd,” said the former MU player, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It seemed to me that everybody wanted to play. Everybody was trying. I’ve been playing football long enough to know if somebody wasn’t trying.

“To even hear, to even learn that this story is coming out, I don’t know what they’re trying to say. I don’t get what the point of the story is, really. It seems like they’re trying to use that as a reason to say, ‘Well, that’s why we had a losing season.’ ”

The entire story seems sketchy.

“Since I’ve been playing collegiate football,” said the former MU player, “I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘You know, we’re going to throw this game’ or ‘We’re going to intentionally lose.’ I’ve never, ever heard that, you know what I’m saying?”

If that is a player’s mindset, why is he even playing the game?

“Right, exactly,” said the former player. “There is too much at stake and that goes for everybody. The way I look at it, they had the opportunity to play in a bowl game and continue a streak of the most bowl game appearances in collegiate football.

“I would consider that an opportunity to add another win to the record and end on a good note. I don’t know what they were trying to get at, honestly.”

Indeed.

As “The Bard” would say, it appears to be much ado about nothing.