MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD (9-4)
vs. MARYLAND TERRAPINS (7-5)
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium – Annapolis, MD
Kickoff: Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET
Line: Marshall -2.5, Total: 62
Maryland attempts to win its second Military Bowl in four years when it takes on Marshall on Friday afternoon.
The Thundering Herd put together quite a successful season in 2013 and made it to the Conference USA championship game when they were upset by Rice, 41-24. The Herd dominated their past five regular-season games en route to the championship game though, defeating their conference opponents by an average of 34.0 PPG while going 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS). Marshall has played in only four bowl games since 2002, but has been very successful in them, going 3-1 both SU and ATS. In 2011, they played in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl against FIU and won 20-10 while covering the 4-point spread as the favorite. After a miserable 4-8 campaign in 2012, the Terrapins did surprisingly well with seven victories. They won their first four games, but struggled in the ACC with a 3-5 record against conference opponents. Maryland did win two big road games late in the season though, a 27-24 OT victory over Virginia Tech, and a 41-21 victory at NC State. The Terrapins played in four bowl games from 2006-2010 and were just as successful as Marshall in those games, going 3-1 both SU and ATS, including winning the 2010 Military Bowl 51-20 over East Carolina. Although Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is 7-16 ATS (30%) after a game where his current team committed 1 or less turnovers, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall is 2-10 ATS after a game where his current team forced 1 or less turnovers. This game will mark the first time these two programs are meeting, and will likely be more of a home game for the Terrapins with an Annapolis, MD venue.
Which team will prevail in Friday's Military Bowl? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013-14 bowl season. The four experts finished the regular season a collective 51.1% ATS (120-115-7) on college football Best Bets, led by StatFox Dave's stellar 57% ATS (35-25-2) mark. This included a 64% ATS (23-13-2) record in his final 11 weeks. StatFox Gary was 2-1 ATS in the final week to finish 53% ATS (21-19-1) in the regular season. Gary was 56% ATS (20-16-1) in college football Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Brian also finished strong with a 3-1 ATS mark on Best Bets in Championship Week, giving him his fourth straight winning season of college football Best Bets at 52% ATS (33-30-1). StatFox Scott is looking to repeat a huge 2012-13 bowl season, when he posted a 71% ATS mark in Best Bets (5-2-1).
Marshall's offense was outstanding all season with 43.0 PPG (7th in FBS), thanks to a healthy mix of passing (291 YPG) and running (211 YPG). Third-year starting QB Rakeem Cato ranks 10th in the nation with 3,579 passing yards (7.9 YPA) and is tied for third in the nation with 36 touchdowns passes to go along with only nine interceptions. Cato has thrown for at least 235 yards in six straight games, tossing 24 TD and only four interceptions in this span. Cato has also added 279 yards rushing yards (3.0 YPC) and six touchdowns to the ground game this season. Junior WR Tommy Shuler has been the go-to receiver this season with 97 catches for 1,097 yards and 9 TD. He scored a touchdown in each of five games between Oct. 24 and Nov. 23, where he scored seven of those touchdowns. The top red-zone threat for Cato was TE Gator Hoskins (44 receptions, 717 yards) who had 13 touchdowns catches on the year, including nine on the road. Senior HB Essray Taliaferro led the team with 1,059 rushing yards (5.2 YPC) and nine touchdowns. He was complemented by lightning-in-a-bottle sophomore HB Steward Butler, who ran for 762 yards on just 86 carries (8.9 YPC) and eight touchdowns. The Herd had a very underrated defense this season, allowing just 23.2 PPG (33rd in nation) and holding opposing passers to a mere 51.2% completion rate and 209 passing YPG.
Maryland was held to 10 points or less three times in a five-game stretch, but in three games since, has averaged 31.3 PPG on 343 total YPG. This includes 41 points and 432 total yards in a season-ending, 20-point rout at NC State. Senior QB C.J. Brown (2,045 pass yards, 11 TD, 6 INT) had 259 passing yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in that win over the Wolfpack. He contributes heavily to the ground game as well with 538 rushing yards (4.4 YPC) and 12 touchdowns on the season, including 138 yards (9.2 YPC) and three touchdowns in the finale versus NC State, giving him five total TD on the day. Brown was not the team’s leading rusher though, as HB Brandon Ross ran for 660 yards (4.5 YPC) and four touchdowns on the year. The receiving group for the Terrapins was decimated by the season-ending injury losses of two of their top receivers; WR Stefon Diggs (587 rec. yards, 3 TD) who broke his fibula midseason and WR Deon Long (489 rec. yards, 1 TD) who also had a break to his fibula and tibia. WR Levern Jacobs (540 rec. yards, 2 TD) has become the No. 1 ball catcher in their absence and has 27 catches over his past four games played. Senior LB Marcus Whitfield (50 tackles, 9 sacks) has aided the Maryland defense in allowing 24.8 PPG to their opponents on the season. Although the Terps allow a high completion percentage (62%), they hold opposing rushing attacks to 152 YPG on 3.8 YPC.