Herd gets Terps in Military Bowl
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maryland, Marshall's opponent in the Dec. 27 Military Bowl, will remain in its own geographically small state, just a hop, skip and a 28-mile jump away in Annapolis at the home of the Naval Academy.
The Thundering Herd doesn't want a repeat of what happened when Maryland had a similar arrangement early in the season, playing West Virginia at nearby Baltimore.
Ugly doesn't begin to describe it, as the Terrapins rolled 37-0.
Still, Marshall and coach Doc Holliday are looking forward to tackling the Terps in their own back yard.
"I have great respect for the ACC and great respect for Maryland,'' Holliday said. "[Terrapins coach] Randy [Edsall] has done a tremendous job there. I think our football team as a whole is excited to be able to play a team the caliber of Maryland.''
Edsall likes the fact that his team and its fans will stay close to home.
"We get a chance to play in our state capital,'' Edsall said Sunday night after the matchup was confirmed. "We hope we can get all our fans and people from this area to come out and support us and be part of the great game-day atmosphere that's going to take place in Annapolis.''
Maryland and Marshall will play each other for the first time when the game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 27, with ESPN televising.
Since that win over West Virginia, the Terps have endured a rocky season. Immediately after their blanking of the Mountaineers, they were pile-driven 63-0 by Florida State in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
At one point, the Terps were 5-4 and 1-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, facing a trip to Virginia Tech. But they won that game 27-24 in overtime and, after losing to Boston College 29-26 on a last-play field goal, drubbed North Carolina State 41-21.
That makes them 7-5 overall, 3-5 in the ACC - enough to get them a bowl bid, but not too high up the 14-team league's pecking order. After it was certain Duke wouldn't knock off Florida State in the ACC title game Saturday, Maryland was heading to its back yard as the "ACC No. 8."
This will be the Terrapins' last football game as an ACC team. The school is entering the Big Ten next season.
Maryland and Marshall have two common opponents this season, Florida International and Virginia Tech. Against FIU, the Terps took a 40-10 halftime lead before settling for a 43-10 victory in their season opener on Aug. 31 and beat Virginia Tech 27-24 in overtime on Nov. 16.
Marshall split against the two teams, losing to Virginia Tech 29-21 in overtime on Sept. 21 and defeating FIU 48-10 on Nov. 23.
The Military Bowl, sponsored by global security giant Northrop Grumman and benefiting the USO, is in its sixth year of existence. It remains a Washington-based bowl, with team hotels downtown, but the game itself has moved 28 miles to the east from RFK Stadium to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Maryland played in the 2010 Military Bowl, beating East Carolina 51-20 in the Terps' final game under coach Ralph Friedgen.
Terps running back Brandon Ross is the team's leading rusher by yardage with 660, but quarterback C.J. Brown has 538 yards rushing to go with his 2,045 passing yards. His rushing touchdowns (12) are exceeding his passing TDs (11).
Brown had 432 total yards in Maryland's regular-season finale against North Carolina State, including 138 on the ground, winning him a share of Back of the Week honors by the ACC. Defensively, Matt Robinson was named the ACC's Linebacker of the Week for his 17 tackles.
Caleb Rowe has played in seven games, including two Brown missed. He has 989 passing yards and five TDs, but is completing just 48.9 percent of his 131 throws.
The Terrapins have five receivers with at least 29 receptions and 400 yards - Levern Jacobs, (40 catches for 540 yards), Stefon Diggs (34-587), Deon Long (32-489), Nigel King (31-428) and Amba Etta-Tawo (29-449).
Marshall received its invitation on Saturday. The Thundering Herd went 9-4 and won the Conference USA East Division title before falling to Rice Saturday in the league championship game.
"Maryland has built plenty of momentum and finished this season strong, while Marshall features a high-powered offense,'' Military Bowl President & Executive Director Steve Beck said. "We're excited about this game being one of our best ever.''
The Herd is led by quarterback Rakeem Cato, who ranks second in Conference USA in passing (275.3 yards per game) and has thrown 36 touchdown passes.
For the Herd, the Military Bowl represents a homecoming for several Maryland/D.C.-area natives: defensive back Derrick Thomas (Greenbelt), linebacker Stefan Houston (Clarksburg, Md.), wide receiver Devon Smith (White Plains), running back Essray Taliaferro (Washington) and defensive end Alex Bazzie (Silver Spring). Reserve defensive lineman Joe Massaquoi hails from nearby Alexandria, Va.
Marshall, enjoying its highest win total since 2002, is playing in its 11th bowl overall, and its sixth different bowl game, beginning with the 1948 Tangerine Bowl. This is MU's third postseason appearance in five years.
Tickets through Marshall University are $77 for lower-level seats. The school gets the first $100,000 of those sales, with the rest of the ticket money going into the Conference USA pool, which the six schools in bowl competition will share.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Aug. 31 Florida Int'l. W 43-10
Sept. 7 Old Dominion W 47-10
Sept. 14 at Connecticut W 32-21
Sept. 21 x-West Virginia W 37-0
Oct. 5 at Florida State L 0-63
Oct. 12 Virginia W 27-26
Oct. 19 at Wake Forest L 10-34
Oct. 26 Clemson L 27-40
Nov. 9 Syracuse L 3-20
Nov. 16 at Virginia Tech W 27-24*
Nov. 23 Boston College L 26-29
Nov. 30 at NC State W 41-21