The Penguins take on the 20th-ranked team in Division I-A in a televised game tonight.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- It's been seven years since Youngstown State University played on James F. Edwards Field in Marshall University Stadium.
The last time the Penguins played here was in 1994, and their opposition wasn't the Thundering Herd, but Boise State University in the NCAA I-AA national championship game.
YSU won that game 28-13. In their last three games played on this field, the Penguins are 2-1.
Tonight, the 8-2 Penguins, ranked No. 6 in the latest I-AA national poll, will take on Marshall, 9-1 and ranked No. 20 in the Division I-A national poll, at 7 p.m.
On TV: The game will be televised by WFMJ Channel 21, with WFMJ Sports Director Dana Balash handling the play-by-play and former WFMJ sports director Pat Saunders doing the color analysis. Mike Ackelson, WFMJ sports reporter, will be on the sidelines.
The series is currently at 4-4-1. The Penguins won the last meeting here in 1993 in the I-AA title game 17-5.
The last three times these two teams have met have been for national championships, and the Penguins have won two of the three meetings.
But The Herd has moved up to Division I-A and has continued their winning ways.
Offensive team: This season, Marshall is ranked No. 2 in the country in passing offense and No. 3 in the country in total offense. It is also ranked No. 8 in scoring offense.
Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich needs just 240 yards to break former Marshall standout Chad Pennington's Mid-American Conference season record for total offense of 3,799 yards.
He is also seven touchdowns shy of breaking Pennington's record of 40 touchdowns either by passing or rushing and is just 40 pass completions short of the MAC record set by Bowling Green's Brian McClure of 298.
Eye playoff spot: The Penguins, who arrived Friday and practiced at the stadium, are in a battle for a playoff berth.
A victory tonight would almost assure the Penguins of a spot in the I-AA playoffs, which begin Dec. 1.
The 16-team field will be announced Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on a special ESPN show.
YSU has scheduled a press conference Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the DeBartolo Stadium Club at Stambaugh Stadium to view the show. It is open to the public and the entire coaching staff and team will be present.