When the members of the University of Massachusetts football program walked off the field in Statesboro, Ga., Saturday night, they did not know if they would get a chance to play another game. That answer came Monday, and while it won't be for another 19 days, it will be happening.
UMass announced late Monday afternoon that it would be playing at Marshall on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff for the game is set for 2:30 p.m. Broadcast coverage will be announced at a later date.
"Spoke with them back when we announced we were going to play this fall," UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford wrote in a text message to The Berkshire Eagle. "They had Nov. 7 open. Stayed in touch since then."
The Minutemen played their first game of 2020 this past Saturday, and came home from Georgia Southern on the short end of a 41-0 score.
"With so much uncertainty this season, we're just trying to give our fan base as many opportunities as possible to see the Thundering Herd," Marshall director of athletics Mike Hamrick said in a statement. "We're happy to welcome UMass to Huntington next month."
Marshall originally had nine games scheduled, with bye weeks slated for Sept. 12, Sept. 26 and Nov. 7. Marshall did fill the Sept. 12 date with East Carolina, but that game was postponed because of COVID-19 issues on the East Carolina campus.
UMass won't be playing this week, but could slot a game into the Oct. 31 position on the calendar.
"Only possibility for a game on 10/31 would be if it were a home game," Bamford wrote in the text, but later added that "No home games are planned at the moment."
The UMass AD did write that while the Marshall game is officially on the schedule, he may not be done.
"Could announce more games this week for later" in November, Bamford wrote.
Marshall is 4-0, and is nationally ranked. Coach Doc Holliday's team is 22nd in this week's Associated Press writers' poll and ranked 25th in the Amway-USA Today Coaches Poll. It is the first time Marshall has been in the Coaches Top 25 since 2014.
The history between UMass and Marshall is a very thin one. The football programs have only played once, with the Thundering Herd winning 49-20.
That game was played in Huntington back on Sept. 8, 2001. UMass was still in what was then called Division I-AA, while current Conference USA member Marshall was a member of the Mid-American Conference back then.
It was Mark Whipple's fourth year in his first tenure at UMass, and the Minutemen were 3-8 that year. It was the only year in Whipple's six-year tenure that the Minutemen had a losing record.
UMass came back from a 21-7 deficit in the first quarter and made it interesting in the second quarter. It was 28-20 at halftime, but the Thundering Herd outscored UMass 21-0 in the third quarter to make it a rout.
Byron Leftwich, the seventh player chosen in the 2001 NFL Draft, was 21 for 30 for 331 yards and five touchdowns. UMass quarterback Matt Guice was 12 for 36 for 139 yards and one TD. Kevin Quinlan carried the ball 16 times for 96 yards for UMass.
Wide receiver Neal Brown caught three passes for 20 yards. That is the same Neal Brown who now works some 204 miles to the Northeast of Joan C. Edwards Stadium as the head coach at West Virginia University.
And there is one other connection between Marshall and UMass. Jeff O'Malley, Marshall's associate director of athletics and chief of staff, left UMass 19 years ago for a job at Marshall. He was UMass' associate athletic director for compliance under former AD Bob Marcum, and went to Marshall when Marcum took the athletic director's job there.