After starting the year out as strong as any team in the country, the Maryland Terrapins fell off a bit starting with a blowout loss to the Florida State Seminoles, giving the Terrapins their first loss of the year. Although they began the season 5-1, they finished losing four of their next six games to finish the year 7-5.
On the other side of the field, the Marshall Thundering Herd have had a relatively successful season with a 9-4 record and five wins in their final six games. The Thundering Herd caught fire at the perfect time, making a bowl game after a slow 4-3 start to the season.
Maryland has been lucky to have a solid leader and senior quarterback with experience in C.J. Brown who has led the team all year. Brown has passed for 2,045 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year while rushing for another 538 yards and 12 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs is possibly the most talented player on offense, but has had a bit of a down year, catching 34 passes for 587 yards and three touchdowns while missing the final five games of the regular season. Brandon Ross leads all running backs with 660 yards and four touchdowns.
Marshall has had one of the best offenses in the nation, ranking in the top-10 in points scored per game while ranking in the top-25 in both passing and rushing yards per game. Junior quarterback Rakeem Cato has been nothing short of stellar this season, passing for 3,579 yards and 36 touchdowns on the year with just a measly nine interceptions. Tommy Shuler leads the team in receiving with 97 catches for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns while Gator Hoskins has 44 catches for 717 and 13 scores. Essray Taliaferro leads the team in rushing with 1,059 yards and nine touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Thundering Herd have been an above average squad this season. Marshall ranks 34th in points allowed per game while also ranking 42nd in yards allowed per game with just about 382 per contest. Maryland has been worse in points allowed, ranking 48th, and better in yards allowed per contest, ranking 32nd, than Marshall.
Marshall and Maryland will face off in the 2013 Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., at 2:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 27. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Maryland 27, Marshall 30
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.