The Iron Bowl. The Game. The Red River Rivalry. All historic matchups between storied programs, all games that each school's respective fan bases hype themselves up for year in and year out.
The Battle for the Bell is not one of those games.
The Battle of the Bell (not to be confused with the other Battle for the Bell between Cincinnati and Miami of Ohio, if Wikipedia is to be believed) is of course the annual game between Ohio University and MAC-team-in-exile Marshall. This was indeed a huge rivalry for many years; the two schools began playing each other in 1905 but stopped when Marshall left the MAC in 2005. The two schools are 4 years into a 6-year contract, so it remains to be seen if the schools continue the rivalry after 2016.
Last year, the Bobcats won one of their more exciting games as they downed the Thundering Herd 34-31 in Athens. Can the Bobcats do it again this year it Athens?
It will be tough. In this writer's opinion, Marshall will be the toughest challenge that the Bobcats have yet faced. The 2014 Thundering Herd is stronger than the 2013 version, and will have the benefit of playing in Huntington this time around. Other, more tangible benefits include:
- A strong offensive line
- A steady group of linebackers and cornerbacks
- Talented receiving corps (especially Tommy Shuler)
- QB Rakeem Cato, who is closing in on multiple Marshall passing records and is one of the best quarterbacks in the country
Marshall's talent is apparent and impressive. They opened the season by beating Miami 42-27 and Rhode Island 48-7. Not exactly powerhouses, sure, but impressive wins nonetheless. The Bobcats will need to play their best defense if they want to have a prayer of winning. Obviously, the offense will need to play better as well- 3 points won't cut it against Marshall.
I predict plenty of scoring in this one, and a 35-24 Marshall victory.