HUNTINGTON — For the first time since August, Marshall has a 2020 football schedule with at least 10 games.
On Wednesday afternoon, Conference USA announced several makeup dates for previously postponed league games — two of which involved the Herd.
Marshall will now host Rice on Dec. 5 in Huntington before traveling to Miami to take on FIU for a nationally televised Friday night matchup on Dec. 11.
“We’ve been working with the conference for weeks to get games rescheduled — not just us, but every school that’s lost games,” Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said. “The conference did a great job of putting all these games together and we’re very appreciative of that. It gives us a 10-game schedule, assuming we can get there.”
Marshall’s Dec. 5 contest with Rice will be televised on an ESPN platform at a time to be determined later. It is the makeup of a postponement from Oct. 3, which was scheduled to be the Herd’s C-USA season opener.
On Sept. 8, the Owls announced that games with Marshall and UAB would be postponed because the Owls were delaying the start of preseason practice until late September amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marshall’s Dec. 11 contest at FIU is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and will be seen on CBS Sports Network, which keeps the same television interests as the originally scheduled contest that was postponed from Oct. 30.
Having that national contest was a major boost, according to Hamrick.
“First of all, CBS Sports Network wanted to televise Marshall, so I believe we were purposefully put on that Dec. 11 game at the request of CBS Sports,” Hamrick said. “That’s just a reflection back to the quality of football that we’ve been playing to date and the type of team we have.”
That game, which takes place at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, is scheduled to be the Herd’s season finale and would be the Herd’s first road game since the Oct. 17 win at Louisiana Tech, if it is played as scheduled.
FIU’s program has struggled with the pandemic throughout the 2020 season, playing just three games — all losses — this season while having four games postponed or canceled.
Wednesday’s announcement comes one day after FIU announced its contest with UTEP was canceled due to COVID-19 issues, marking the third game in four weeks that has been shelved.
Albeit tentative, the 10-game slate is something Marshall has not been able to boast of since late August after a wild month in which the Herd’s schedule completely flipped from its original state.
Its 2020 schedule started with 12 games, but that number was reduced to eight in a span of five days.
That spiral started Aug. 6 when the ACC announced its schedule, canceling the Herd’s Sept. 12 date with Pitt and continuing with conference season postponements by the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference on Aug. 8 and 10, respectively, leaving the Herd without a Sept. 19 game at Ohio or a Sept. 25 home date with Boise State.
That number went to eight after Conference USA member Old Dominion announced it would not field a team in 2020 on the same day that the Mountain West Conference announced its intention to postpone the season, leaving Hamrick with several holes to fill.
Hamrick got the schedule back to nine games after adding games against nationally ranked Appalachian State and an opener against Eastern Kentucky in consecutive days, but the Rice postponement dropped the team back to eight games.
The addition of UMass on Oct. 19 again got the total back to nine games with six at home, which was of utmost concern to Hamrick.
However, the subsequent FIU postponement forced the Herd back into an eight-game slate before Wednesday’s announcement.
As it stands now, Marshall’s 2020 schedule stands with seven scheduled home games and three road games.
Marshall’s three non-conference games will all come at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, capped by Saturday’s contest against UMass at 2:30 p.m.
In addition to Marshall’s two rescheduled contests, Conference USA announced five more additions to its schedule.
There will be three games on Dec. 5. The Marshall-Rice matchup in Huntington is joined by FIU traveling to Charlotte for a scheduled noon contest and Southern Miss heading to El Paso, Texas, to take on UTEP.
On Dec. 10, Florida Atlantic travels to Southern Miss for a nationally televised 6:30 p.m. contest on CBS Sports Network.
On Dec. 12, the regular season concludes with a pair of key West Division contests. UAB travels to Rice while North Texas makes the trip to UTEP.
All the makeup games were made possible after Conference USA elected to push its Dec. 5 championship game to Friday, Dec. 18, which allowed for two weekends in which to make up postponed contests.
The Conference USA championship brings together the two divisional champions at 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 in a game televised by CBS Sports Network. That game will take place at the school with the better conference winning percentage.
Currently, Marshall is the lone undefeated team in Conference USA.