If the Knights have a Big Ten vibe, then it's fortunate the Thundering Herd lined up against a Big Ten team this year at Purdue, Bazzie said. The Boilermakers featured a beefy offensive line and devotion to the ground game. Facing Tulsa's running back trio helped as well.
While UCF's offensive style isn't common in C-USA, it's not a style that's a total mystery to Marshall's defense. Coach Doc Holliday said the team practices against pro-set looks throughout the year.
"This isn't the first week since camp they've seen ... power football," he said. "They've seen that throughout the year, because at some point you've got to be able to stop it. This is one of those weeks where you have to line up and buckle your chinstrap and get physical, because that's the type of game it's going to be."
So preparing for UCF's offensive style isn't about the defense flipping the switch on its mindset, linebacker Billy Mitchell said.
"It's more getting ready physically for a great game that we're looking forward to," Mitchell said. "Ever since high school, I've loved the physical game."
The rest of Marshall's defense digs it, too, Bazzie said. The Herd has had its issues against the run this year, allowing more than 227 yards on the ground per game. Yet the Herd's spirits are high following its 59-24 win over Southern Mississippi, which featured the defense's best performance of the season, giving up 331 yards, snatching three turnovers and notching three sacks.
The defense hopes that momentum carries over into this Saturday. Bazzie said defensive coordinator Chris Rippon has pounded it in their brains that they must match UCF's physicality.
"Coach Rip is an old-school coach," Bazzie said. "He loves that type of game. That's his type of game and he brought that upon us. We like the physical ground game. I feel like, with them running the ball and us putting so much emphasis on stopping the run, that's going to be something we're going to be excited about."
In the end, O'Leary said, it doesn't matter what offense a team runs. It all comes down to whether the offensive line can block for it and the defense can tackle it. A win over UCF would be the Herd's first in eight tries and catapult the Herd among the leaders of C-USA's East Division. Sure tackling is essential when facing the Knights, Okoroha said.
"That's what (O'Leary) likes," Okoroha said. "That's what he believes in. That's what he thinks works and, so far, it's been working for him. It's going to be a physical game, because that's what they like to do. They try to pound the ball and we just have to meet them there."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.