Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/19/11

If you aren't looking (and probably most of our readers are not), Marshall could actually represent the East Division in the Conference USA Championship Game.

Now the 5-6 Thundering Herd still need some help and a win over East Carolina, and a very unlikely loss by Southern Miss against 2-9 Memphis to pull of the feat, but the slim hope is alive.

The reason Marshall is in this position is because No. 22 Southern Miss was shocked by UAB Thursday night. The Blazers scored 10 fourth-quarter points to pull out a 34-31 victory.

Marshall almost blew the opportunity, but rallied for a 23-22 victory against Memphis...arguably one of the worst FBS programs.

Don't get too caught up in Marshall's record or a close victory against a struggling program. This happens with young teams.

Second-year coach Doc Holliday is building something special in Huntington, and he's doing it by out-recruiting a lot of his competition. Holliday earned a reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters at West Virginia, North Carolina State and Florida.

Now he's doing the same at Marshall.

The Herd are 5-6 because Holliday is committed to playing his young players who are loaded with talent, but also are inconsistent at times. They are also one game under .500 because of a schedule stacked with programs all expected to reach bowl games.

Marshall opened the season at West Virginia (7-3), vs. Southern Miss (9-2), at Ohio (8-3), vs. Virginia Tech (10-1), at Louisville (5-5) and at Central Florida (4-6). It would have been easy to have predicted a 1-5 or even 0-6 start.

But Marshall upset Southern Miss and Louisville to get to 2-4. That doesn't mean Holliday and the Herd aren't kicking themselves for losing at UCF 16-6. A win there would have the Herd bowl eligible and in the driver's seat to play in the conference championship.

Now, Marshall may not look forward to a rematch with Houston. The Cougars smoked the Herd 63-28 on Oct. 22.

The odds are not in Marshall's favor, but it's interesting to see how the Herd are showing some real positive signs.

Remember, Marshall is a program that grew used to winning Division I-AA championships and Mid-American Conference titles. However, the move to Conference USA has not been as smooth as the Herd had hoped, but it still fun watching the program get closer to being a tough non-AQ program again.

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