Marshall's dream of an unbeaten season and a berth in one of the playoff-affiliated bowls came to an excruciating -- but high-scoring -- end Friday with an overtime loss to Western Kentucky.
Western Kentucky (7-5) led throughout, and Marshall's first lead didn't come until it scored on its possession in overtime. But the Hilltoppers answered with a TD, then went for two and got it to win, 67-66, over the Thundering Herd, who were ranked 24th in this week's College Football Playoff selection committee top 25.
Marshall's loss is good news for Boise State, which was 23rd in the CFB Playoff rankings. The Broncos now are the clear frontrunner for the "automatic bid" to an affiliated bowl that goes to the best team from outside the Power Five conferences. The Broncos (9-2) have a tough game Saturday against Utah State (8-3).
Marshall (11-1) trailed by 21 early in the third quarter and faced 14-point deficits six other times.
The teams combined to throw 15 TD passes, a FBS record for one game. Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty was 34-of-50 for 491 yards, eight TDs and two interceptions. Marshall's Rakeem Cato was 29-of-46 for 217 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions, including one at the goal line in the fourth quarter. Cato now has thrown a TD pass in 44 consecutive games, which extends his FBS-record streak.
Doughty has become a potential third-day selection in the 2015 draft, thanks to 44 TD passes and 4,344 yards; he had 14 career TD passes before this season. It was his third 400-yard day of the season, and twice he has thrown for at least 569 yards. In addition, Friday was the fifth time this season he had thrown at least four TD passes and the second time he had thrown at least six.
Western Kentucky finished with 738 total yards, Marshall with 708. That's 1,446 total yards; the single-game FBS record is 1,640, set in 2001 by Nevada (791) and San Jose State (849).
Marshall already had clinched the East Division title in Conference USA and plays host to the league title game next Saturday; the opponent will be Louisiana Tech or Rice, but given what was potentially lost Friday, you wonder if the Herd can regroup in time to win the league title.