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Marshall And North Texas: What Could Have Been

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North Texas came oh-so-close to entering the fourth quarter within a touchdown of Georgia, while Marshall took Virginia Tech to triple overtime. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
North Texas came oh-so-close to entering the fourth quarter within a touchdown of Georgia, while Marshall took Virginia Tech to triple overtime. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

I’m doing something different this week. I was going to do my normal weekend recap where I name the the C-USA players of the week. This Saturday, I channel flipped and watched teams in this conference battle BCS schools nail and tooth in tough losses. That’s when I decided to deviate from the norm and tip my hat to Marshall and North Texas. So here we go…

Marshall came the closest against Virginia Tech, and if it wasn’t for a controversial no-call (pass interference) in the third overtime, who knows? But the Thundering Herd can only blame themselves for blocked punts and dropped touchdowns in a 29-21 defeat. Chuck Heater’s defense played lights out the entire game. They held the Hokies to 2-for-16 on third down conversions and forced Logan Thomas into two interceptions. Thomas got lucky as one would-be pick bounced into his receiver’s hands to send the game into OT.

If I had to give a Defensive Player of the Week it could go to James Rouse. The defensive tackle was a man inside for the Thundering Herd, stuffing the run and pass in the soaked trenches all day. And what can I say about Rakeem Cato that we haven’t already said? Cato made plays with his arm and feet, totaling 274 yards and three scores. If his receiver hadn’t dropped a touchdown in the third overtime they would still be partying on campus right now. That didn’t happen and they took a tough loss, but Doc Holliday’s team won my respect.

At the same time, North Texas had the home crowd of 92,000 sweating and worrying about an upset “Between the Hedges." Georgia jumped to a 14-0 lead and it could have been over right there, but the road team keep battling and made this game close. The Green Machine trailed 21-14 at halftime. You wouldn’t know that by judging the body reactions of both teams going to the locker rooms. It didn’t stop there as North Texas blocked a punt for a score and tied the game at 21 early in the third quarter. The final score, 45-21, is not indicative of how tough this game was and how an overmatched underdog played its heart out. By the way, North Texas received $975,000 for their efforts.

Two tough losses for a league looking for the first major upset. Oh, what could have been?