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Military Bowl: Maryland and Marshall face off in a duel of underrated quarterbacks

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

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Maryland's C.J. Brown (USA Today Sports)

Military Bowl
Marshall vs. Maryland
Annapolis, Md.
Dec. 27, 2013

The Military Bowl should be like a home game for Maryland (7-5), as the Terps will play just 30 miles from its campus in College Park. The Terps, who are playing in its first bowl game in the Randy Edsall era, had an up and down season that was undeniably an improvement over the 4-8 and 2-10 records in the previous two years under Edsall. After getting off to a 4-0 start and even cracking the Top 25, the Terps were demolished 63-0 by Florida State and also were handily beaten by Wake Forest, Clemson and Syracuse.

Injuries again plagued Maryland. Star receiver Stefon Diggs went down with a broken leg and starting quarterback C.J. Brown missed several games before returning in Week 9. Using both his arm and his legs, Brown was instrumental in the Terps’ path to bowl eligibility, turning in impressive performances in late-season wins over Virginia Tech and NC State.

The Maryland defense will certainly be tested going up against the Marshall offense that is ranked seventh nationally in scoring (43 points per game) and 12th in total offense (502.3 yards per game). The Thundering Herd (9-4) features one of the best quarterback-receiver connections that no one seems to know about. Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler were high school teammates who torched Conference USA defenses all year.

Cato threw for 3,579 yards and 36 touchdowns (third in the country) on the season. Shuler hauled in 97 receptions for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns. With 44 catches and 13 touchdowns, tight end Gator Hoskins has also been a favorite target of Cato, especially in the red zone. Marshall also boasts a 1,000-yard rusher in senior Essray Taliaferro.

Cato and company led Marshall on a five-game winning streak in the second half of the season that came to a halt in a 41-24 loss to Rice in the Conference USA title game. The Herd averaged 53.8 points per game during that winning streak.

MASCOT FIGHT

I’d bet my life savings on a fight between a thundering herd and a terrapin (a turtle) and I suggest you do the same if the opportunity ever presents itself. Bet the bank on the herd.

PREDICTIONS

Graham: Maryland 41, Marshall 35. This is a tough game to pick, but I think Rice exposed Marshall a bit in the Conference USA title game. Maryland has been hit and miss this year, but finished the season strong. I think they pull out a nail biter.

Nick: Maryland 27, Marshall 21. Maryland has gotten hit by the injury virus again, but it’s not to their quarterbacks. For fun, maybe the Terrapins have a linebacker take a few snaps under center, but Virginia Tech is the barometer here. Marshall lost to the Hokies. Maryland beat them.

Sam: Maryland 34, Marshall 28. Marshall really struggled to stop the run against Rice, so I expect Maryland's C.J. Brown to have a big day. Rakeem Cato will keep things close, but Maryland will pull out a close one.

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