HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - For a large chunk of the Marshall University football roster, some of the toughest decisions entering the Thundering Herd's game Saturday at Florida Atlantic University didn't come on the field.
They came in deciding which family members made each player's ticket list.
Thirty-four of the Herd come from Florida, and 18 of those players are from the Dade-Broward-Palm Beach County area that includes Boca Raton, the site of FAU's campus. For some of them, it'll be the first time their families have seen them in person in a college football uniform.
"It's like our homecoming," said junior receiver and Miami Central High graduate Tommy Shuler.
Yet while the opportunity is there for those Sunshine State players to hang out with their families, that will take a back seat to the 5 p.m. game with the Owls, broadcast on Fox College Sports. By focusing on the business of winning, the Herd (3-2, 1-0 Conference USA) will experience the pleasure of going 2-0 in C-USA for the first time since 2008.
"It's got to be a business trip," Shuler said. "Your family can see you after the season or at a big bowl game. We're going down there to see family and make sure they're OK, but we're really going down there to handle business. Business comes first."
The Herd took care of business last week with a convincing 34-10 win in its conference opener versus the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The Roadrunners entered the game ranked second in C-USA in total offense and were held to 177 yards and two touchdowns below their season averages.
The Owls (2-4, 1-3 C-USA) are another first-year Conference USA program, but Marshall players aren't dismissing them. They saw what FAU was able to do in its inaugural conference win last week over the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where the Owls scored 20 second-quarter points and never trailed again.