HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Herd will play seven home games during the 2016 regular football season.
It is the first time since the Herd's return to major college football that Joan C. Edwards Stadium has been the site of seven regular-season home games. The last time that occurred was 1996, when the Herd played seven as part of a 15-0 NCAA Division I-AA national championship season.
The Thundering Herd will host Louisville on Sept. 24. The game is the back end of a home-and-home with the Cardinals after Marshall defeated Louisville 17-13 in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2011.
The following Saturday (Oct. 1) Marshall will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers in Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, in the front end of a home-and-home deal that will see the Panthers return to Huntington in four years.
"Our players are excited for this season and I know that our fans and community will be as well," said Marshall coach Doc Holliday. "I've said many times that the support we get from everyone in this area is second to none and that's a big boost for our program."
Marshall will begin the season with three straight home games after Morgan State (Sept. 3) and Akron (Sept. 10) head to Huntington. The Zips went 8-5 in 2015, finishing with five straight wins and a victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
After the Louisville and Pittsburgh contests, Marshall will begin its Conference USA slate with a trip to North Texas (Oct. 8) before returning home for games against Florida Atlantic (Oct. 15) and Charlotte (Oct. 22).
Road dates at 2015 C-USA West division champion Southern Miss (Oct. 29) and Old Dominion (Nov. 5) follow and another road game at FIU (Nov. 19) is sandwiched between home dates with Middle Tennessee (Nov. 12) and reigning league champion Western Kentucky (Nov. 26).
"This schedule is outstanding," Marshall Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said. "Louisville is a team that you could see in the preseason Top 25 and is one of seven home games this season, which should be a treat for our student-athletes, coaches and fans."
"We will have a bye in Week 1 this season and, unfortunately, that became necessary so that we could complete the home-and-home agreement with Pittsburgh, but that's a small price to pay to get a power conference team to come to Huntington."
The Herd's three FBS non-league games are against opponents who appeared in 2015 bowls.
The schedule is tentative, with the possibility that Conference USA telecast partners could move selected games to Thursdays or Fridays. Currently, all 12 Marshall games are slated for Saturdays.
The league's 12th annual championship game, pitting the champions of the East and West Divisions, is scheduled Saturday, Dec. 3.
The 2016 Marshall football schedule (tentative; TV, times TBA):
Sept. 3 Open date
Sept. 10 MORGAN STATE
Sept. 17 AKRON
Sept. 24 LOUISVILLE
Oct. 1 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 8 at North Texas*
Oct. 15 FLORIDA ATLANTIC*
Oct. 22 CHARLOTTE*
Oct. 29 at Southern Miss*
Nov. 5 at Old Dominion*
Nov. 12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE*
Nov. 19 at FIU*
Nov. 26 WESTERN KENTUCKY*
*Conference USA game*