Marshall–UCF football rivalry
|Marshall–UCF football rivalry|
|Series record||UCF leads, 8–3–0|
|First meeting||September 20, 2002
Marshall 26, UCF 21
|Last meeting||October 27, 2012
UCF 54, Marshall 17
|Largest win||UCF, 54–17 (2012)|
|Longest win streak||UCF, 8 (2005–2012)|
|Current win streak||UCF, 8 (2005–present)|
The Marshall–UCF football rivalry is an American college football rivalry game played by the Marshall Thundering Herd football team of Marshall University and the UCF Knights football team of the University of Central Florida. During the series, both universities were members of the Mid-American Conference (2002–2004), and both were members of Conference USA between 2005 and 2012.
UCF holds the advantage in the overall win-loss record in the rivalry series, 8–3. The series has been marked by periods of alternating winning streaks. Marshall started the series 3–0, but then fell to UCF for 8 consecutive years. Three of the games in the series have been decided by seven points or fewer, and two were decided by one point.
From its one-sided domination by Marshall in its first few years, the Marshall–UCF football rivalry evolved into one of the most evenly matched and hardest fought in Conference USA. The games often affected the standings in the conference's eastern divisions, and evenly more frequently affected whether a team qualified for a bowl game. The Thundering Herd has been considered one of UCF's main rival's due to the number of meetings and the comparable size of the programs. Both teams joined the Division I-A (FBS) a year apart and made the switch to C-USA from the MAC in 2005.
The similarities and histories between the two programs fuel the fire in this rivalry. The first game in the series was played on September 20, 2002 between coach Bob Pruett's Thunder Herd and coach Mike Kruczek's Knights in Huntington, West Virginia. The Thundering Herd won the first three games of the series, between 2002 and 2004. However, in 2005 the tables would turn in favor of the Knights. UCF's first football victory over Marshall would come that season – the programs first in C-USA – ending the Knights' then NCAA-long 17-game losing streak. The 23–13 victory resulted in fans rushing the field and tearing down the goal posts at the Citrus Bowl, the only time in program history that fans have toppled the goal posts.
In 2008, UCF played spoiler to Marshall, beating them to allow East Carolina to jump the Thundering Herd for the C-USA Eastern Division lead and eventual conference championship. Further aggravating the rivalry in 2009, UCF won its game against the Thundering Herd in Orlando with 23 seconds on the clock, after Bruce Miller forced a fumble from Marshall QB Brian Anderson. The rivalry crossed over into other sports when in 2010, the Knights hired then Marshall men's basketball head coach Donnie Jones.
The 2012 season marked UCF's last as a member of Conference USA, as it will join the American Athletic Conference for all sports in 2013. It appears that at least for now, the rivalry concluded on October 27, 2012 with a 54–17 UCF victory. It was not only the largest margin of victory in the series, but it was also the worst home loss for Marshall of the season. The 11 game series concluded in UCF's favor 8–3. After both programs moved to C-USA in 2005, UCF never lost to Marshall, and currently holds an 8 game win streak in the rivalry.
Most rivalries are marked by frequent close games, unexpected upsets, and memorable moments; the evenly-matched Marshall–UCF rivalry has provided many. Three of the eleven games in the series have been decided by seven or fewer points, and two were decided by a single point. In terms of all-time winning percentage, only a few points separate the Thundering Herd (.511) and the Knights (.523). A few of the most notable games of the rivalry are described below.
2005: Winless streak snapped
In their first match-up as Conference USA opponents in 2005, the Knight's prevailed over the Thundering Herd 23–13. The Knights entered the game with the nation's longest streak at 17-games. In front of their hometown crowd at the Citrus Bowl, the Knights won their first conference game, their first game since October 2003, and earned their first win under George O'Leary. The Knights jumped out to an early 17–0 lead, and held Marshall to only 11-rushing yards. As time expired, UCF fans celebrated the victory by storming the field and tearing down the goal posts. Students even returned UCF's main campus in Orlando and celebrated by jumping into UCF's Reflection Pond, a practice normally reserved for Spirit Splash. UCF finished the season by winning eight of its nine remaining games, finishing 7–1 in C-USA games, and winning the East Division and hosting the first ever C-USA Championship game. The Thundering Herd finished the season 4–7 and fifth in the East Division.
Both teams entered the 2009 game evenly matched, UCF 4–3 and Marshall 5–3. With Marshall leading 20–7 with less than 8 minutes remaining in the game, UCF staged a comeback, scoring two touchdowns to win 21–20. After getting within one-score, and with Marshall trying to run out the clock, Bruce Miller forced a fumble from Marshall QB Brian Anderson on the Thundering Herd's 30–yard line with 2:12 remaining. UCF quarterback Brett Hodges found an uncovered Rocky Ross for a 1–yard game winning touchdown pass with only 23 seconds remaining on the clock. The Knights would finish the season 8–5, while Marshall finished 7–6. Both teams were bowl eligible.
- 2005 NCAA conference realignment
- 2010–13 Big East Conference realignment
- American Athletic Conference
- Conference USA
- East Carolina–UCF football rivalry
- Friends of Coal Bowl
- Marshall Thundering Herd
- Mid-American Conference
- UCF–USF football rivalry
- UCF Knights
- College Football Data Warehouse, Marshall vs. UCF. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- "UCF beats Marshall, snaps 17-game losing streak". ESPN. 2005-09-24. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "Marshall players eager to snap UCF 6-game win streak". Orlando Sentinel. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "Fourth quarter updates from Marshall at UCF — Knights beat Herd 21-20". Orlando Sentinel. 2009-11-01. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "UCF hires Marshall's Donnie Jones as coach". USA Today. 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "It's Official! UCF Joins BIG EAST Conference". University of Central Florida. 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- At the time UCF announced its 2013 conference move, its destination conference was known as the Big East Conference. Following a 2013 split of the conference along football lines, UCF's destination conference will operate as the American Athletic Conference.
- "UCF's Marshall rivalry comes to an end". Chicago Tribune. 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "Division I-A All-Time Winning Percentage". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "George O'Leary Makes His Mark at UCF: Part 8 of 8 - The History of UCF Football". University of Central Florida Athletics Association. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2012-11-30.