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Marshall football: Herd eager to end Texas drought

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Whenever the Marshall football team prepares to play a team in Texas, the players know the question that's coming. They've heard it before. It's not their favorite, but it's one they must endure.

Why can't the Thundering Herd win in that state?

"I don't hate it," defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said about the question with a forgiving smile, "but it gets tiring."

The Herd is winless in eight tries in Texas. It doesn't subscribe to curses or hexes in attempting to explain the slump, but the players are determined to snap the streak.

Their next chance comes Saturday at Rice. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. and the Herd's Conference USA opener will be broadcast on CSS and WCHS.

Marshall's Lone Star State losing streak began in 2004, when the Herd lost the Fort Worth Bowl, 32-14, to Cincinnati. Since then, Marshall's dropped games to UTEP in 2005 and 2009, Southern Methodist in 2006 and 2010, Houston in 2007 and 2011 and Rice in 2008.

Sometimes the Herd has been close, like its 35-28 loss to Houston in 2007.

Sometimes it hasn't been so close, like last season's 63-28 loss to Houston or the 31-3 loss to UTEP in 2005.

Sixth-year guard John Bruhin can't pinpoint why Marshall's fortunes have gone so sour in Texas. It's just that they have.

"I can't really put my finger on it," he said. "Just going down there is a long trip. There maybe the lag time over it, but that's no excuse."

Texas is the Herd's longest regular-season trip. It's Conference USA's westernmost state and it's so wide that crossing it takes hours. Look at a map of the United States, and you'd see that El Paso is farther west than Denver and in the Mountain Time Zone, while the rest of the state is in the Central Time Zone.

But senior wide receiver Aaron Dobson refuses to even use that distance as an explanation for Marshall's Texas woes.

"It is kind of different with the time zones, that everything's earlier," he said. "But that's definitely not enough to say that's why we're losing."

The team knows the streak is a fact, but it's not one the players harp on when they begin gearing up for a Texas trip. Dobson said the coaches might mention it - mostly to say location is no reason for a losing streak - but the players don't make a focus of their preparation.

"We don't really even discuss that," Dobson said. "It's brought to our attention, and we see it in the papers, but we don't look at it in that way."

The best way to keep from getting psyched out by Marshall's oh-fer in Texas is to pay it no mind, Taylor said. He doesn't consider the team snake-bitten. So there's no need to switch hotels, eat different breakfasts or for players to put their socks on in a different order. And it's not like Marshall has no success over Texas teams. The Herd's never lost to a Lone Star State team at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Looking forward to Saturday's game and not back to past stumbles should keep the players' minds clear, Taylor said.

"We just have to come out and play every week," he said. "The wins and losses of last year, they're not where we're going. What's in the past is a point of reference. It's not a destination.

"Some guys might want a little change, but every day is a new day," Taylor said. "You have to come to play, whether it rains, shines or snows. You have to make your own destiny and we want to change the streak this Saturday."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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