The Panthers also lost at home to Football Championship Subdivision team Bethune-Cookman University, 34-13.
This season will be the third consecutive season that starting redshirt senior linebacker Markeith Russell will finish with more losses than wins. While it would be easy for the Panthers to adopt a spoiler role - beating Marshall would hurt the Thundering Herd's chances of winning the East and beating FAU would keep the Owls out of a bowl - he said that's not the mentality they want to take.
"From the beginning of the season, even from the spring and from when the coaching staff first arrived, all our goals have been internal," Russell said. "It's never been about 'them.' It's always been about us and even with the season not going as we planned or as we hoped it to be, we know there are better days to come.
"We're just looking to go out there, accept another challenge and go blow for blow. Our focus is not to knock anyone off their game. Our focus is to win the next challenge."
There are some bright spots on the horizon. The Panthers' top two runners, Lamarq Caldwell and Silas Spearman, are a sophomore and freshman, respectively. Marshall's coaches have pointed out the talent of tight end Jonnu Smith, a freshman who leads FIU with 31 catches and 298 yards. Top wideout T.J. Lowder is a redshirt sophomore.
The key, Russell said, is for those young players to continue developing, even in the face of a disappointing season.
"We see the week as the studying and Saturdays as test day," said Russell, the team's leading tackler with 82. "Each test day, we want to come out with a better result - DBs, defensive linemen and guys on the offensive side grading out higher and higher.
"The final score doesn't say that, and a lot of people aren't going to report that, because at the end of the day, it's all about the 'W.' But as far as our internal and individual goals, it's about getting better every day and that's why we do believe brighter days are ahead of us."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.