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Chuck Landon: RedHawks putting emphasis on MU game

August 28, 2018

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

For the Mexican food aficionados in the audience, think of this as refried opinions.

n Miami (Ohio) is placing a remarkable amount of emphasis on its season-opening game against Marshall.

How much?

So much, the RedHawks have designated the contest as their Homecoming game. Anybody ever heard of a school’s season opener also being the Homecoming game?

Me, neither.

But that’s the case. When Miami (Ohio) hosts Marshall at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Yager Stadium at Oxford, Ohio, it will be the season-opener for both schools, except the RedHawks also will have a Homecoming parade.

How strange.

Except for one eensy, teensy factor. Miami (Ohio) wants to win in the worst way. Badly enough to hold Homecoming in the season opener during a three-day holiday weekend?

Well, yeah.

The fact Miami (Ohio) has lost the last four games in this series just might have a little something to do with all this because Miami (Ohio) doesn’t like to lose to Marshall. The word “detests” comes to mind.

So, imagine how badly the RedHawks’ feathers are ruffled over a four-game losing streak.

Remember, Miami (Ohio) holds a commanding 30-13-1 lead in the series and won 12 consecutive matchups from 1964-75. So, nothing is right in the RedHawks’ world when a four-game losing streak to Marshall is hanging from their necks.

Especially since Miami (Ohio) believes it should have defeated Marshall in the 2017 season opener in Huntington. And the RedHawks are correct. Miami (Ohio) beat Marshall everywhere except on the scoreboard last season.

Miami (Ohio) led in first downs, 25-to-15; rushing yards, 131-59; passing yards, 298-208; total offense, 429-267; and time of possession, 35:44 to 24:16.

Yet, Marshall still won, 31-26.

That’s because the Herd had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and an interception return for a TD. That was the difference in the game. And, obviously, it still is sticking in the RedHawks’ craw.

Considering how badly Miami (Ohio) wants this game and how many returning starters it has remember quarterback Gus Ragland’s name it wasn’t surprising to discover the gambling spread was favoring the RedHawks nearly all summer.

As late as Sunday night, Miami (Ohio) was a 2.5-point favorite. But, then, inexplicably on Monday the odds flipped. Suddenly, Marshall became a 1.0-point favorite.

Go figure.

All I know for sure is a Homecoming queen will be crowned in the Marshall-Miami (Ohio) season opener Saturday.

What were the odds?

n The Young Thundering Herd has dealt with a lifetime’s worth of tragedy.

Yet, those special players still are showing up and holding themselves accountable. That was proven once again last week when the 1971 team traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to say good-bye to its leader quarterback Reggie Oliver.

According to former players who were present, the Young Thundering Herd occupied four large pews in the church where Oliver’s funeral was held.

How appropriate.

And how heart-warming.

n Who will be Marshall’s starting quarterback against Miami on Saturday?

We still don’t know.

In fact, it appears nobody will find out until either No. 17 (Isaiah Green) or No. 6 (Alex Thomson) trots out onto the Yager Field turf when MU’s offense takes the field for the first time.

And I’m not sure how much it actually matters.

That’s because I expect both Green and Thomson to play Saturday. All I know for sure is it has been a very long time since the starting quarterback didn’t attend the media’s weekly player interviews on Mondays.

But he was absent this week.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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