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Marshall football: 2 reasons Thundering Herd are for real after upset win over Notre Dame

Marshall Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

In perhaps the biggest upset of Week 2, Marshall football defeated the then-No. 8 Notre Dame on the road 26-21. The upset barely put the Thundering Herd in the college football rankings, but it was enough to take the Fighting Irish out of the Top 25.

With a perfect 2-0 record to start the season, plus the huge win over Notre Dame, Marshall is now getting more attention in the college football world. Was Saturday just a one-time thing or can the Thundering Herd really compete being the Sun Belt Conference?

The team does not have a tough schedule, so maybe there is a chance for a big season for Marshall.

With that being said, here are two reasons why the Thundering Herd are for real after the upset win over Notre Dame.

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2. Marshall football features Power 5 talent on the roster

Although most would think Marshall football is unfamiliar against big schools, this is far from reality. For the 2022 season, the team added 24 players via the transfer portal. Some of those players came from Power 5 schools, such as Florida State.

“We’ve got three guys from Florida State, they all played Notre Dame last year,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said, via ESPN. “The team wasn’t as caught up in the gold helmets as it was, ‘Hey, this is an opportunity to play a good team, and we’ve got to play really well.’ Where college football is now, the intimidation factor probably goes out the window.”

One of those players is Henry Colombi. The former Texas Tech quarterback finished the game completing 16 of his 21 pass attempts for 145 yards and a score.

Huff also said those players did not feel wanted in their previous schools. Luckily for the Thundering Herd, it seems Marshall football became the preferred destination. Should they keep adding more Power 5-level talent, Huff and Marshall can return to the spotlight in the near future.

1. Khalan Laborn is the real deal

As much former Power 5 players Marshall has, one in particular was the X-factor of the game versus the Fighting Irish.

That player was transfer Khalan Laborn. The running back was dismissed by the Florida State Seminoles’ program in 2020 for violating team rules. Against Notre Dame this year, he had perhaps one of the biggest games of his life. He had game-bests 31 carries for 163 rushing yards, plus a touchdown on a four-yard run.

Laborn alone had more yards on the ground than the entire Notre Dame offense had in the game. Also, he was the only Marshall player with more than seven carries. His 5.3 yards per attempt was extremely important as he constantly put the Thundering Herd in manageable downs or gave them the first down.

As Marshall faced one of the top programs in the country, Laborn’s presence was essential. Not only he showed he can be dominant, but he did it against a defense that in 2021 ranked 14th in points per game, 28th in opponents yards per play, and 10th in opponents third down conversion percentage.

Despite just two games in the season, Laborn already has 43 carries for 265 yards. As a sixth-year player, he already had the experience, but he proved that it can be translated to the field. If fans are questioning if the Thundering Herd are the real deal after the win over the Fighting Irish, Laborn’s performance should make them a contender for bigger things.