And then there was one.
Entering Week 14, Marshall was one of just two undefeated FBS teams in the country. The Herd had also just entered the Top 25 of the most recent College Football Playoff rankings. All of that, though, came crashing down on the Herd as they dropped a wild 67-66 decision to visiting Western Kentucky in overtime.
The Herd sent the game into overtime on a touchdown with :39 seconds left, then scored a touchdown on its first overtime possession to take a 66-59 lead. However, the Hilltoppers matched that touchdown and added a two-point conversion for the win.
Defense was merely a rumor in this game as the 133 combined points was the second-most ever for a game featuring at least one overtime, behind only the 2007 Boise State-Nevada in which 136 points were scored in the four-overtime affair. The two teams combined for 1,438 yards of offense, behind the record of 1,640 set in 2001 during the San Jose State-Nevada. Prior to this season, there had only been 40 games in the history of college football at the FBS/Div. 1-A level in which both teams gained more than 600 yards of offense.
One record that was set? The most combined touchdown passes by two players in a single game, with WKU’s Brandon Doughty (eight) and MU’s Rakeem Cato (seven) combining for 15.
Marshall has already clinched the East division of Conference USA and will play in the league title game next Saturday. A win Saturday would’ve ensured that that game would’ve been played in Huntington; now, the location is up in the air. From the league’s official tiebreaker guidelines:
If Marshall loses to WKU on Friday and Louisiana Tech defeats Rice, both teams would have the same conference record (7-1). Marshall and Louisiana Tech do not play in the regular season, eliminating the head-to-head tie-breaker, the second tiebreaker after conference record. Therefore, the CFP ranking is the next tie-breaker. If neither team is in the top 25 of the CFP Rankings, average select computer ranking (Anderson and Hester, Billingsley, Colley Matrix and Wolfe) would be used to determine host.
The loss is also a blow to Marshall’s New Year’s Day bowl game aspirations, although not a fatal one — at least not yet. The highest-ranked Group of Five team will earn a spot in one of the four marquee bowl games that aren’t a part of the CFP rotation this year; Marshall was No. 24 last week, while Boise State was No. 23. It would seem likely that the Herd will drop out, although the Broncos could tumble out as well with a loss to Utah State Saturday.
Colorado State and Northern Illinois, which clinched the MAC West earlier today to move to 10-2 on the year, are also contenders for that lone Group of Five slot.