The game will include giving out 5,000 green and white pom-pom to the first 5,000 fans through the gates of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the Houston-Marshall game that night. Still, with the cooler October weather in Huntington for the 8:00 p.m. kickoff on television, is there a fear the Herd fans might not show for this important Conference USA game for the Herd, who is still tied with East Carolina for first in the East Division with a 2-1 C-USA mark.
"The white out against Cincinnati was unbelievable, great TV exposure for us and we get another chance to get on national TV and play a really good Houston team," said head coach Mark Snyder of the Herd fans showing for the contest.
"It is another chance to show what kind of fans we have, just like the white out. They will be there at the walk; for heaven’s sakes, they packed it when we were 0-7 last year. We will have a good crowd and they will be boisterous. That is the least of my worries. We need them to make noise for the Houston audibles."
Herd players echoed their coach on Monday, reaching out to the fans to remind them how important their presence is to the team at home games. John Jacobs, a junior defensive end, said the team definitely needs its fans on Tuesday. "We definitely do," said Jacobs. "We need that 12th man there. Whenever I talk to anyone about Marshall, I brag about our fans. I tell them we set a all-time record of drawing over 30,000 a game last year for a team that lost its first seven games, one of the worst seasons we have had there. I don’t expect any less this year and we really need those guys on that Tuesday night."
Junior tight end Cody Slate said it is a big help to the players when they know the fans are there supporting them. "It definitely helps us, and will help if we have a big crowd making noise when that Houston offense is on the field. It helps us and we hope they will come out and support us again Tuesday night."
"We can still reach all of goals of winning Conference USA and going to a bowl," said senior safety Aaron Johnson. "We are concentrating on Houston, but we need to fix just a few little things and all are goals are still out there. Nobody likes to lose, but we can’t look at that now. We have to look ahead to the next five games. The fans know they are important to us, and we appreciate all of our fans," Johnson continued. "We feel we have let our fans down the last three games. We’ve let them down but we feel they will be right back behind us at this next game, right with us on our side."
As far as Houston, the Cougars won its opener and then also was on a three-game losing streak. Head Coach Kevin Sumlin, in his first year at UH, went back to the basics and re-did the offense.
"That’s the key for (UH). They were a little too one-dimensional, but the last couple of weeks they found a running back and its helped their offense," said Snyder.
Last season, Marshall only lost by seven at UH last year, 35-28, and quarterback Case Keenum seemed to just be beyond the grasp of Herd defenders. "There will be some opportunities to rush the passer, but first we have to stop that new running game. They were pass, pass, pass and had a three-game losing streak. Then they found a running attack and became less one dimensional," said Snyder.
Houston opened the season with a win over Southern, then lost at Oklahoma State. The team was forced to go to Dallas when Hurricane Ike blew into the Houston area, and they lost to Air Force there at SMU’s Gerald Ford Stadium.
UH went straight to Colorado to stay for a week, then lost a third-straight game to Colorado State of the Mountain West, another second-straight three-point loss to a MWC team. But since entering Conference USA play, Houston has won at then No. 23 East Carolina, 41-24; won over UAB, 45-20, rallying from a 20-3 halftime hole to winning with 42 straight second half points. Last week, it was another wild "West" shootout as Houston beat SMU at Ford Stadium, 44-38.
In league games, UH is No. 2 in scoring (43.3 point per game) and No. 1 in pass offense (407.3 yards per game). The rushing game is sixth with Bryce Beall, a freshman, gaining 114 yards per game in C-USA games.
On defense, the Cougars are fourth in scoring in the league, trailing No. 1 Marshall by just 5.3 points per game, 27.3 to 22.0. They are No. 1 in total defense, allowing 346.7 yards per game, the low in C-USA. "They are a little bit bend but don’t break. They know what their weaknesses are. I’ve been very impressed with their defense."
Snyder knows his team needs to put the UAB loss behind them quickly to get ready for the Houston game, and is comforted by the fact that the other teams in C-USA have also had ups and downs this season. "It stings a little bit, and everybody in the league but Tulsa has gone through this. There are going to be ups and downs, and you have to have courage in the downs and enjoy the ups. It’s a perfect time for a bounce-back game."