Record: 6-5, 5-2 Conference USA (T2 in league)
Coach: Steve Logan (10th season)
Key players: RB Leonard Henry (1,432 yards, 16 TDs), QB David Garrard (2,441 total yards), LB Pernell Griffin (153 tackles)
Season summary: The Pirates dropped three of their first five contests, against non-conference foes Wake Forest, Syracuse and North Carolina, but rebounded to win four straight C-USA games, including a dramatic 28-26 victory over Cincinnati, to jump to a 5-0 record in league play. A victory over Louisville would have earned a conference crown, but the Pirates squandered a 21-10 lead to drop that game 39-34 before ending the season with a tough 28-21 defeat to Southern Miss.
Record: 10-2, 8-1 MAC (1st in East)
Coach: Bob Pruett (sixth season)
Key players: QB Byron Leftwich (4,132 yards, 38 TDs), WR Darius Watts (1,417 yards, 18 TDs), LB Max Yates (159 tackles, 12 for loss)
Season summary: The Herd failed to win the MAC championship game for the first time in its five-year history, but they still dominated most of the season and earned their fifth consecutive bowl berth. Following a 49-14 drubbing by Florida to begin the season, Leftwich's golden arm paced Marshall to 10 consecutive victories and a perfect league regular season before dropping a back-and-forth thriller at Toledo in the first league title game played outside of Huntington, W.Va.