MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's Rasheed Marshall has
already run past Michael Vick in the Big East record book. Next up,
Marshall needs 44 rushing yards on Thursday night against
Syracuse to break McNabb's conference mark of 1,561 career yards
for a quarterback.
"When I hear Syracuse, I think Donovan McNabb first," Marshall
said. "I would love to break Donovan's record. It would be a great
accomplishment, but the primary concern is winning the game."
Sole possession of first place in the Big East is at stake when
Syracuse (3-3, 1-0) travels to No. 15 West Virginia (5-1, 1-0).
"These are the ones that count the most," West Virginia coach
Rich Rodriguez said. "Our first goal every year is the Big East
championship, and that hasn't changed since year one. Being the
defending champs, we're probably targeted more, but it should make
us defend it harder."
Marshall will try to send West Virginia to its third straight
win over Syracuse, something that hasn't happened since 1972-74.
Last season, it was Marshall's arm that helped beat the Orange.
He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Chris Henry in the 34-23
Marshall already holds the single-season league rushing record
for quarterbacks with 666 yards in 2002, surpassing the mark Vick
set at Virginia Tech. Marshall has 339 yards this season.
"He's having his best year for us by far," Rodriguez said.
"He's the same guy he was for us four years ago. He knows it's a
humbling profession and you're only one bad game away. He's had
people boo him, at home and on the road. He's handled it all the
Despite his rushing success, Marshall hasn't dominated his
offense like Vick or McNabb did, in part because West Virginia has
had a stable of quality running backs. Marshall has yet to be named
to the all-Big East first team.
In a 31-19 win over Connecticut last week, Marshall got his
first career 100-yard rushing game and became the first WVU player
to have 100 yards rushing and passing in a game since Major Harris
"Donovan was very quick. The Marshall kid is very, very
quick," said Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni. "I think if you put
them in a 40-yard dash, the Marshall kid would win by a step or
two. He really can do a lot of damage running the ball."
A loss for Syracuse, which is 0-3 against ranked opponents this
season, could further cloud Pasqualoni's job security and force the
Orange to win three of their final four games to become bowl
Syracuse ranks last in the league in total offense and passing
yards, and its 20-point scoring average is just one better than
Temple. The Orange are converting just 26 percent of their third
In each of its losses, Syracuse was held to 113 yards or less on
the ground. Leading rusher Walter Reyes was limited to 27 yards on
14 carries in a 19-13 loss at home Oct. 9 to Florida State, a game
the Orange led 10-3 at halftime.
"I've learned over the years that when people criticize you,
you have to sort it out," said Pasqualoni, who is in his 14th
season as Syracuse coach. "There's some criticism that's totally
unwarranted and there's some criticism that has a good point to it.
Nobody likes to hear it, but you've got to be mentally tough enough
in this game that you can keep your focus, move on and try to win a