Coal is a very important natural resource to the state of West Virginia and her citizens. As such, it should come as no surprise that a majority in the state consider themselves ”friends of coal”. While West Virginians may agree on the importance of coal, they do not agree on which is the best college football team in the state. So, every year, Marshall and West Virginia University meet in what is know as “The Friends of Coal Bowl”(see above explanation of title) to see who truly is the best football team in the mountain state.
If you been keeping track of the “Coal Bow”l (state nickname) over the last 3 seasons, the results are all the same, WVU wins, Marshall loses (48-23, 27-3, and 24-7 last season). In order to reverse the trend, Marshall will have to find a way to slow down Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, and Tavon Austin. Or as Mountaineer fans call them, ”the smurfs” (all three are under 5’9″ and run like smurfs being chased by Gargamel). According to Marshall Defensive coach Chris Rippon, 78 percent of the Mountaineers yardage against Coastal Carolina a week ago came from Devine, Sanders, and Austin. Stopping the “smurfs” is easier said than done, but I’d suspect to see Marshall double team any of the three in the slot and have 1 player key on Devine at all times.
In order to extend it’s Coal Bowl winning streak to 4, WVU needs to do one thing; watch Marshall’s game film from the Ohio State game and use whatever defense the Buckeyes used. Seriously, the Herd were only able to muster 7 points against the Buckeyes in last Thursday’s massacre in Columbus. Granted, Marshall was playing the second ranked team in the nation but still, head coach Doc Holliday would have liked to see a few more points from his offense. Lord knows the Herd have some play-makers on the offensive side of the ball (AJ Graham, Lee Smith, and Aaron Dobson to name a few) it’s just that the Buckeyes stingy D wouldn’t allow them to shine.
Like last week, and every week to come, I’ll throw out my prediction for this game. This week, I’m going with a much more modest score, WVU 21 MU 10. The line is WVU by 13 but I honestly think this will be a little closer than the suggested line. Understanding that the two teams were on the opposite end of a butt whooping last week (Marshall got one from Ohio State 45-7 and WVU gave one to Coastal Carolina 31-0), I just think that WVU played a lower level of competition than MU which made them look a lot better when in actuality they were not. If you’ve become lifeless on Friday night’s like yours truly and don’t have any major plans, I’d suggest you tune into ESPN at 7pm and check out “The Friends of Coal Bowl” because it could get interesting.
About the Author
Written by Jason Lee
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, I've been a sports fan probably since I was about 9 years old! A 2002 graduate of Mount Union College (Alliance, OH), I've had the opportunity to cover some great high school football on the radio in both Ohio (working with WHBC in Canton) and in West Virginia (I currently work with Bristol Broadcasting in Charleston). I also keep an on-line journal/blogs on my own website.