DALLAS, Texas — A rematch in the making?
If a preseason media poll is any indication, the Marshall football team will have its chance for revenge. The Thundering Herd — who fell 22-13 to Alabama-Birmingham in the 2020 Conference USA title game in Huntington — was picked to finish as the East Division champion by a media panel at the conference media day on Monday.
UAB — Conference USA champion in two of the last three seasons — was picked to win the west, and have a chance to be the first team in the league to win back-to-back titles since Western Kentucky in 2015 and 2016.
Last season was Marshall’s first appearence in the Conference USA title game since 2014, when the Herd topped Louisiana Tech 26-23 for their only championship in the league.
Marshall and UAB are currently tied with Southern Miss for the most title game appearances among current Conference USA teams, each making it three times.
A year ago, Marshall was 7-3 overall, as well as 4-1 in Conference USA. The Herd will be under new leadership, with Charles Huff replacing Doc Holliday is out after 11. Coach Huff inherits nine returning starters on offense, including reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Year, quarterback Grant Wells. MU also brings back a quartet of starters from the defensive side of the ball.
In the preseason media poll for the East Division, Marshall received 17 of the 24 first place votes, with Florida Atlantic picking up six and finishing second. Western Kentucky claimed one first place vote and as ranked third, while Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, FIU and Old Dominion rounded out the East Division.
UAB claimed 15 votes to win the West Division, while the other-nine went to UTSA, which ended up second. Louisiana Tech was ranked third, followed by Southern Miss, Rice, North Texas, and UTEP.
The Conference USA champion will be decided at the 17th annual championship game in the first week of December.
Marshall kicks off the season with a non-league bout at Navy on Sept. 4.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.