Marshall’s football team will welcome four 2019 bowl teams, two of them conference champions, as part of the Thundering Herd’s 2020 home schedule. Marshall released the entire 2020 slate Wednesday afternoon.
The schedule will put Marshall — which finished last season at 8-5 with a Gasparilla Bowl loss to Central Florida — on the road for most of October. The Herd has five games in that month and just two at home, Oct. 3 against Rice and Oct. 24 against defending Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic.
But the jewels on the home schedule come from the non-conference side, where Marshall hosts both ACC opponent Pittsburgh and defending Mountain West champ Boise State at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
“I’m not sure we’ve ever had two non-conference games in Huntington the caliber of Pitt and Boise State,” Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said. “Both will garner national television interest, so it’s worked out well.”
Hamrick said he already has had conversations with Conference USA about national TV possibilities for both games. Scoring non-conference home games with teams at that level isn’t always easy in Huntington, but Hamrick said the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to scheduling.
“The respect our program has gives us an opportunity to schedule these games,” he said.
Marshall’s non-conference road schedule also presents a challenge. The Herd opens the season Sept. 5 at East Carolina and visits Ohio on Sept. 19.
That ECU game adds another special mark to Marshall’s 2020 schedule: the 50th anniversary of the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash that killed 75 Herd players, coaches, staff and boosters on their way back from a game against East Carolina.
Marshall also requested and was granted a conference home game on Nov. 14. The Herd will play Middle Tennessee. Hamrick said those two games were planned for an anniversary as significant as this one.
“This is my 11th football season (as Marshall’s AD),” Hamrick said. “This is the most anticipation that I and my staff have had for a football season from a schedule standpoint.”
Marshall’s home opponents are Pitt (Sept. 12), Boise State (Sept. 26), Rice (Oct. 3), FAU (Oct. 24), Middle Tennessee (Nov. 14) and Charlotte (Nov. 21). Road opponents are East Carolina (Sept. 5), Ohio (Sept. 12), Western Kentucky (Oct. 10), Louisiana Tech (Oct. 17), Florida International (Oct. 31) and Old Dominion (Nov. 28). The Herd’s bye week is Nov. 7.
Dates on the schedule are tentative and could change to accommodate national television opportunities.