TEMPE, Ariz. — Ahead of Thursday night’s showdown between Oregon and Arizona State, the sibling rivalry between Cameron Marshall, a senior running back at ASU, and Byron Marshall, a freshman running back at Oregon, has been a hot topic.
Cameron, though, doesn’t get what all the fuss is about.
“I wouldn’t call it much of a rivalry,” Cameron said this week. “Because I won everything.”
Ribbing aside, the brothers are eager to clash as college rivals for the first and possibly only time, the latest in a long line of competition between the siblings from San Jose, Calif.
Growing up, Cameron and Byron never competed against each other in organized football. But in just about everything else, they were keeping track of wins and losses.
“We just competed in everything, whether it was eating, playing video games, racing down the street, pickup basketball games, pickup football games, and just games we’d make up at home,” said Byron from Eugene, Ore. “Everything we did we’d keep score. We just had a lot of fun with a lot of things, trying to beat each other. This is another thing to add to the list.”
Both Marshalls starred at Valley Christian High School in football and track. Cameron drew recruiting interest from a number of schools, including Oregon, but picked ASU, where he began making a name for himself immediately, particularly after hurdling a USC defender his sophomore season.
Byron, too, garnered plentiful scholarship offers, including most of the Pac-12 and ASU. He could have followed in his brother’s footsteps, but picked the Ducks instead.
“I just fell in love with Oregon when I came to visit,” Byron said. “I also just wanted to make a name for my own self and go to a spot that best fit me.”
Cameron says he would have loved to see his brother in maroon and gold, but is no less a proud big brother.
“I’m real close to my little brother,” Cameron said. “I love him to death. It’s always fun doing everything with him.”
While Cameron is closing in on ASU’s career rushing touchdowns record — he’s nine away from Woody Green’s 43 — Byron’s college career is just beginning. Cameron has 262 yards and five touchdowns on a team-high 62 carries. Byron has 258 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries and racked up 125 yards against Tennessee Tech last month.
Both Marshalls are physical backs who can drag defenders along with them before going to the ground. Asked to compare themselves to the other, both offered nearly identical answers.
Cameron, at 5-feet-11 and 215 pounds, is the better downhill power back, both said. Byron, at 5-10 and 201 pounds, is the shiftier speed back.
Thursday’s game might seem like it would make for a house divided, but the brothers insist their parents, Greg and Tammie, are staying neutral.
“They want both of us to do well,” Cameron said. “I know my mom’s probably going to just be cheering the whole time. My dad’s going to be sitting there quiet, just studying and paying attention.”
Added Byron: “My pops, he’s not as torn as my mom, he’s just looking for a good game. I wouldn’t say he’s picked sides, but he just wants a good game. That’s what he told us.”
The brothers, however, have been teasing each other a bit. Cameron turned 21 last Sunday, so the brothers got on the phone and Byron couldn’t help but give Cameron grief about the looming showdown.
“He has a big mouth, so he’s always talking,” Cameron said, laughing. “I’ll beat him up and he’ll come back talking still, so it’s great. I love competing against him.”
Informed of Cameron’s dismissal of their rivalry, Byron burst into laughter before offering a rebuttal: “Cameron likes to talk a big game, but don’t let him fool you. I’m not a chump. I don’t let him get me at everything. He gets me at some stuff, but he knows that statement’s a little farfetched. I get him sometimes, and he gets me. It just depends on the day.”
Thursday might just be the biggest day yet in the sibling rivalry. The No. 3 Ducks (in the BCS Standings) are looking to stay undefeated with hopes of playing in the BCS Championship Game. The Sun Devils are trying to pull off a monumental upset in what has already been a surprising season under first-year coach Todd Graham.
Cameron and Byron both insist the game is first and foremost about their respective teams, but there’s no getting around the fact that some big bragging rights are at stake. Especially with Arizona State the underdog, Cameron says Byron would not hear the end of a Sun Devils victory.
“Never,” Cameron said. “It would be one more thing that I’ll have bested him at. The list is long.”
Byron said much the same of an Oregon win: “No, no, no. If we win this one, I’m never going to let him live it down.”
Bragging rights or not, the Marshalls will go right back to rooting for each other after Thursday’s game. While some brothers might keep their distance ahead of such a big game, Cameron and Byron said they’ll almost certainly chat sometime before kickoff Thursday at Sun Devil Stadium.
“I’m going to talk to him, mess with him,” Byron said. “And after the game it’s all good. We’re just family again.”
Until a possible rematch in the Pac-12 Championship Game in December.