99. Marshall’s perfect season in 1999

There are 99 days until MACtion returns. Until then, we count the days

It’s been 19 years since Marshall had its perfect, 13-0 season in 1999. The No. 1 team in the country that season, Florida State, was the only other Division I-A  team to finish with an undefeated season.

But Florida State didn’t win 13 games. Had 1999 happened in 2017, we might be talking about the defending national champions out of the Mid-American Conference. (Note: Of course the College Football Playoff committee wouldn’t let that slide. Don’t be silly. There’d still be a parade in Huntington, W. Va.)

Marshall’s 1999 schedule, results

  1. Win @ Clemson (13-10)
  2. Win vs. Liberty (63-3)
  3. Win vs. Bowling Green (35-16)
  4. Win vs. Temple (34-0)
  5. Win @ Miami-OH (32-14)
  6. Win vs. Toledo (38-13)
  7. Win @ Buffalo (59-3)
  8. Win vs. Northern Illinois (41-9)
  9. Win @ Kent State (28-16)
  10. Win @ Western Michigan (31-17)
  11. Win vs. Ohio (34-3)
  12. Win vs. Western Michigan (34-30) — MAC Championship
  13. Win vs. BYU (21-3) — Motor City Bowl


  • Randy Moss’ second and final year with Marshall came in 1997, two years before this, but this is when Moss’ and Chad Pennington clicked on the field. Of Pennington’s 42 passing touchdowns this year (first-year starter, sophomore), Moss caught 26 of them. Moss scored in all 28 games of his career at Marshall, which made him a Fred Biletnikoff Award winner and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
  • Pennington’s a senior in 1999 and it was his turn to be a Heisman Trophy finalist. That year, Pennington completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,799 yards (9.4 yards per attempt) with 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 171.4.
  • Pennington finished fifth in the Heisman voting. Ron Dayne won it with Joe Hamilton finishing second, followed by Michael Vick, Drew Brees, then Pennington.
  • Pennington led the country with 37 passing touchdown. Tim Lester, over at WMU, was third with 34.
  • Marshall and WMU’s two games against each other in 1999 were the only games where Pennington and Lester faced off during their careers.
  • In the following NFL Draft, Pennington was drafted by the New York Jets (1st round, 17th overall), defensive back Rogers Beckett was picked by San Diego (2, 43), running back Doug Chapman went to Minnesota (3, 88) and wide receiver James Williams went to Seattle (6, 175).

1999 MAC Championship game recap

(via the Mid-American Conference)

“Marshall won its third consecutive MAC title with a thrilling 34-30 triumph over
Western Michigan Dec. 3 in the MAC championship game. Marshall quarterback
Chad Pennington tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to Eric Pinkerton with four
seconds left for the victory. Western Michigan’s Tim Lester had given his team
a 23-0 third-quarter lead before Marshall stormed back. The Bronco’s Robert
Sanford set a championship game record with 163 rushing yards. Lester completed
27-of-41 passes for 282 yards and two TDs while Pennington was successful on
20-of-31 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns. The Broncos’ huge lead came
courtesy of Brad Selent field goals from 31, 32 and 36 yards, a Lester to Corey
Alston 16-yard pass and a one-yard scoring run by Sanford. Marshall’s 27-0 run
included Pennington’s touchdown passes to Nate Poole (38 yards) and James
Williams (16) and touchdown runs of 2 and 24 yards by Doug Chapman. Lester’s
four-yard scoring pass to Jake Moreland with 7:30 left gave WMU the lead at
30-27 until the final seconds.”


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