Chuck Landon: This is where Texas teams come to lose
It is an inexplicable phenomenon.
For some cosmic reason when eastern-based football teams in Conference USA travel west to play member schools located in Texas, the eastern teams seldom win.
C-USA’s Texas teams don’t win when they come east.
There’s no rhyme or reason or compass for it, but nonetheless it’s true.
Just look what happened last weekend when North Texas (7-2) traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to play Old Dominion (2-7).
The Monarchs rallied from 28 points down to send the Mean Green back to Texas with a stunning 34-31 defeat.
Then, there’s Marshall University.
The Thundering Herd is the “poster program” for this geographic phenomenon. Marshall has a 1-11 record in the Lone Star State, yet MU is 12-0 when hosting Texas-based programs in Huntington.
Inexplicable, but true.
Which, of course, isn’t good news for UTSA, which travels from San Antonio to play Marshall at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
“For us this weekend, I hope it holds true,” said senior left guard Jordan Dowrey.
“It would be nice if it does. No Texas team ever has won here? See, things I didn’t know. But that would be great if it works out that way this week. The next time we go down to Texas, I hope it doesn’t hold true. But for this weekend, I will stick with it.”
The odds are in Dowrey’s favor.
This unusual trend began in 1988 when then-coach George Chaump’s Herd defeated North Texas, 7-0, at Fairfield Stadium in the NCAA I-AA playoffs.
The phenomenon didn’t occur again until Bobby Pruett’s 2004 team lost to Cincinnati, 32-14, in the Fort Worth Bowl in Texas.
But when Marshall joined far-flung C-USA, playing Texas schools became a routine occurrence. Under coach Mark Snyder, the Herd was 5-5 against Texas foes.
Guess where the five wins were located?
The five losses?
The final loss, 52-21 to UTEP in El Paso in 2009, was the last game of Snyder’s coaching career at Marshall.
Yet, the trend continued under Doc Holliday. In 2010, MU defeated UTEP, 16-12, in “The Joan,” but lost at SMU, 31-17, in Dallas.
In Holliday’s nine seasons, he has a 7-5 record vs. Texas opponents. He is 6-0 at home and 1-5 in Texas. But that means Holliday is the only Marshall coach ever to win in the Lone Star State.
That happened in 2012, as MU defeated Rice, 54-51, in double overtime. Yet, the next year Marshall lost to Rice, 41-24, in the C-USA championship game in Houston.
This phenomenon just won’t go away.
“Wow,” said senior linebacker Frankie Hernandez, after hearing the statistics. “What year did Marshall win in Texas? Wow. And Marshall is 12-0 against Texas teams here? I don’t know how to explain that. On Saturday, we just need to keep it going. That’s it.”
Junior star safety Malik Gant was even more amazed by the trend.
“I never knew that,” he said with a wide-eyed shake of his head.
“None of ’em? That’s crazy. That just means we’ve got to keep the tradition going and the focus going. That’s crazy. That’s a crazy phenomenon. What a crazy stat. That’s crazy. It just shocks me. That’s crazy.”
Indeed, it us.
Crazy, but true.
So, will the trend continue Saturday against UTSA? Considering the Roadrunners have been out-scored, 97-10, in their last two games, it certainly looks that way.
MU will win, 45-6.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.