HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — An emotional trip down memory lane begins where it all started.
The 2020 football season will be a significant one for Marshall University since it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the program’s tragic plane crash following a regular season contest at East Carolina.
The Thundering Herd, with both their setbacks and glories since that fateful night of Nov. 14, 1970, will commemorate a half-century back on the gridiron by opening the 2020 campaign at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C.
Ficklen Stadium was constructed in 1961 and has served as the original home for the Pirates, even after massive renovation projects over the years. It was the same playing site as the 1970 MU football participated on before departing on Southern Airways Flight 932 later that evening.
Fifty years later, Marshall will be kicking off its 24th season as a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level competitor that follows up an 8-5 overall campaign that included a second place finish with Western Kentucky (6-2) in the Conference USA East Division standings.
The Green and White suffered their first bowl loss under head coach Doc Holliday in 10 seasons with the program, but the Herd also return a substantial number of starters on both sides of the ball next fall.
Eight of Marshall’s upcoming opponents were in bowl games this past winter, including a pair of eventual conference champions in Boise State (Mountain West) and Florida Atlantic (CUSA).
MU faces only two new opponents in 2020, which includes ECU (4-8) in the season opener on Sept. 5 and a home opener with Pittsburgh (8-5) a week later.
From there, the remaining 10 games are all rematches from the 2019 season. Marshall went 7-3 overall in the contests last fall.
The Herd travels to Ohio University (7-6) on Sept. 19 while looking to defend their ‘Battle for the Bell’ title, then completes the non-conference portion of the schedule on Sept. 26 by hosting Boise State (12-2).
Marshall opens October at home with its league opener against Rice (3-9) on the third, then makes consecutive road trips to Western Kentucky (9-4) and Louisiana Tech (10-3) on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17.
MU hosts Florida Atlantic (11-3) on Oct. 24 and closes out the month with a trip to Florida International (7-6) on the 31st.
Marshall’s bye week comes at the start of November, followed by consecutive home games against Middle Tennessee (4-8) on Nov. 14 and Charlotte (7-6) on Nov. 21. Both of Marshall’s league losses in 2019 came against these programs.
The Thundering Herd conclude the regular season at Old Dominion (1-11).
The game against Middle Tennessee is slated to be the annual 75 Game, which commemorates the 75 victims involved in the plane crash. It will be played on the actual date of the 50-year anniversary.
Start times have yet to be determined.
2020 Marshall Football Schedule
|9-5||at East Carolina|
|9-26||vs Boise State|
|10-10||at Western Kentucky|
|10-17||at Louisiana Tech|
|10-24||vs Florida Atlantic|
|10-31||at Florida International|
|11-14||vs Middle Tennessee|
|11-28||at Old Dominion|
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.