Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Friday, 2:30 pm ET, ESPN
Suggested slogan: It's the Military Bowl and we wanted firepower, so here's Marshall.
How Marshall got here: You probably didn't hear much about the Thundering Herd this year, but it was one of the better non-AQ teams this year. The offense led the team, which scored 40 or more points in eight of its 13 games. The only losses the Herd had were to bowl teams, and it was the sixth-highest scoring team in the country (I-A competition only). The team is a prolific passing one with Rakeem Cato throwing for almost 3,600 yards and 36 TDs, but it also had a 1,000-yard rusher in Essray Taliaferro. It even had a 1,000-yard receiver in Tommy Shuler. The team is a danger to anyone, including itself -- it had four turnovers in a three-point loss to Ohio. It's exciting, though.
How Maryland got here: I'm tempted to say "it's a 7-5 ACC team and that's all you need to know", but let's go just a little bit further. The team's best player is wideout Stefon Diggs, and the team was 5-2 with him playing at least some of a game. He broke his leg in October against Wake Forest and went out for the year, however, and he still ended up the team's leading receiver. It's too bad, because it doesn't have a lockdown defense to throw at Marshall's uptempo attack. This is a team that did beat Virginia Tech, but it lost by 24 to Wake and 17 to Syracuse. It's a 7-5 ACC team; that might really be all you need to know.
College football fans care because: This is a chance to see Marshall's light speed offense, one of only ten squads nationally to run over 1,000 plays already. Of the ten in the 1,000-play club, it's one of five to average over six yards per play as well.
SEC fans care because: Marshall's head coach is a former assistant at Florida? That's about all I got on this one.
Watch this game if...: You still think rooting against Randy Edsall is funny, and also if you like to see a fast offense like Marshall's.
Bottom line: Maryland is thoroughly average, and it's not at full strength. Marshall is an exciting team that took Virginia Tech, a better team than UMD is, to three overtimes before falling. It was the CUSA runner up after falling in that league's title game, but conference realignment has left it looking more like the Sun Belt than what you think CUSA should be. There's no reason why the Terrapins can't win this one, but there's a reason why they're not favored.
Brandon's pick: Marshall 35, Maryland 14
Line: Marshall by 2.5