HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Snapping a two-game skid? Sure, that was nice. Putting together the best overall performance of the year in a 59-24 thumping of Southern Mississippi? Of course it felt good.
The Marshall football team had every right to be sky high this week as it prepared for Saturday's Conference USA showdown with Central Florida. But that, the players said, wouldn't help them win the game.
They couldn't forget the pain of the season's first half - the struggles, the close losses, the mistakes and the 2-4 record.
"We've just been telling everyone you have to still stay on edge," sixth-year guard John Bruhin said. "Last week, we were a little bit edgy coming off that loss to Tulsa. We feel like we could have beaten them. We just came to practice every day with a chip on our shoulder and that's what we have to do this week, come to work with kind of a bitter taste in our mouth, and not let this victory get us too hot."
The Thundering Herd (3-4, 2-1) has plenty of reasons to stay bitter as the Knights (5-2, 3-0) visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium for an 8 p.m. matchup (CBS Sports Network). Paramount among those reasons is that Marshall hasn't beaten UCF in seven straight tries, including last season's soggy 16-6 loss in Orlando.
The Herd fought both the Knights and the elements in 2011. Seven inches of rain that October day turned Bright House Networks Stadium into a swamp.
That, and a UCF defense that was ranked No. 1 in C-USA last season, held Marshall's offense to 130 total yards and no offensive touchdowns in a 16-6 UCF win.
"With them doing what they did to us last year, we feel like there's something we have to prove," defensive end Alex Bazzie said.
"We feel like, with everything being so tense right now and with them being undefeated in the conference, we have to prove to them we have talent as well, that we're not just a pushover."