HUNTINGTON-For Marshall, it's feast or famine when it concerns the Lone Star State.
The Thundering Herd (1-2) makes its second road trip of the season when MU meets Rice (1-2) for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff today.
Marshall has yet to win a football game in eight previous games in Texas, including a 35-10 defeat at Rice Stadium in 2008. On the flip side, the Thundering Herd is a perfect 8-0 at home against schools from Texas.
Marshall's main focus defensively is containing Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue, who has rushed for 206 yards. His 50 carries ranks third among FBS signal-callers.
"He's not afraid at all to just pull it down and run with it," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "He likes to keep the ball in his hands."
Last year in a 24-20 loss at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, McHargue rotated each offensive series with Turner Petersen before suffering an injury late in the second half and finished with 33 yards on the ground while completing 10-of-16 passes for 150 yards.
"He created issues for us a year ago with the different options and types of plays he runs," Holliday said. "We will have to do an extremely good job on defense to contain him."
Rice, which finished 4-8 last season, owns the lone Conference USA victory against a BCS program this year in 14 games. Two weeks ago in Lawrence, Kansas, placekicker Chris Boswell made a 45-yard field goal as time expired and the Owls defeated Kansas, 25-24 - marking the program's first win against a Big 12 Conference school.
"Rice is big," Holliday said. "They play a lot of two tight ends in there, but they'll flex them out and be lined up in a wing tight end set. They do a lot of things out of 12 personnel, which creates issues because of the four wides and they'll also put them in the backfield.
"They're very versatile in what they do offensively by different triple, speed and read options. They manufacture a lot of yards because of what their quarterback can do with his feet."
Marshall faced a similar style in last week's 27-24 loss at home to Ohio University. Bobcat quarterback Tyler Tettleton carried the ball seven times for 35 yards, and threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-35 passing.
"Tettleton was more likely to throw the ball and make plays on the perimeter," Holliday said. "McHargue does a good job at running the football."
Against Ohio, the Thundering Herd made a much better showing on defense in the second half and allowed just 144 yards after intermission.
Marshall's bugaboo boiled down to two turnovers committed in the final five minutes, including an interception thrown by quarterback Rakeem Cato in the final minute. The sophomore broke Byron Leftwich's school record for completions after finishing 44-of-65 for 432 yards with three touchdowns.
His 65 pass attempts eclipsed the previous stadium record by one.
"You hate to see what happened to him Saturday night, but in the long run he will learn from it," Holliday said. "From everything I've read and heard from people, he handled himself very well after the loss in the interviews. Unfortunately, that is part of the maturing process.
"It probably happened to Byron (Leftwich) and probably to Chad (Pennington). Hopefully, it won't happen to Cato anymore. It's part of it and I feel he handled himself very well."