GREENVILLE, N.C. -Talk about deja vu.
Last year, Marshall University's football team went into its regular season finale against East Carolina with a 5-6 record and in need of a victory over the favored Pirates to finish .500 and become bowl eligible.
The Thundering Herd won that Nov. 26 game in overtime, 34-27, and went on to defeat Florida International, 20-10, in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.
Today, almost exactly one year later, Marshall is again 5-6 and in need of a victory to finish .500 and become bowl eligible. It is again playing East Carolina. The Pirates are again the favorite.
About the only thing different is the location of the game. Last year's contest took place at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington. This year, the Thundering Herd is on the road, at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, where laying in wait is a 7-4 Pirate team whose only losses are to South Carolina, North Carolina, Central Florida and Navy.
The similar scenario is not lost on Marshall coach Doc Holliday.
Who: Marshall (5-6) vs.
East Carolina (7-4)
When: 2 p.m. today
Where: Greenville, N.C.
East Carolina by 7
"It's the same as last year, just in a different place,'' he said. "Last year they came to Huntington and this year we are going down there.''
Holliday has nothing but respect for East Carolina.
"ECU is a good football team,''he said during his weekly press conference. "Their quarterback, Shane Carden, has done a great job and is managing the game well.''
In other words, this is going to be a battle of the quarterbacks with Carden going up against Marshall's Rakeem Cato.
Cato has completed 375 of 544 passes for 3,883 yards and 32 touchdowns compared with 10 interceptions. Carden hasn't thrown as much, but has been successful on 210 of 324 attempts for 2.399 yards, throwing twice as many TD passes to interceptions, 18 to 9.
Although both teams like to throw first, each has a running back it can go to if the situation arises. Marshall's leading rusher is Kevin Grooms, who has 732 yards and eight TDs in 119 carries. East Carolina is led by Vintavious Cooper, who is 22 yards shy of 1,000 yards on 177 carries.
Holliday understands the importance of this game and he is not downplaying its significance.
"The kids understand that if we win, then something good is going to happen for them. I think that helps our preparation.''
Holliday never will forget last year's win over the Pirates.
"Last year's overtime win was so critical for us,'' he said. "It was the game that got us those extra practices and got us into a bowl game. That had to be the best memory I've had playing them and I've played them a bunch of times.''
Marshall brings a 4-3 record in Conference USA into the contest while East Carolina is 6-1 in league play and tied with Central Florida for the lead in the C-USA East Division. Central Florida is heavily favored in its Saturday home against Alabama-Birmingham.