By Zach Walker
Marshall Thundering Herd vs Maryland Terrapins
Friday – December 27 – 1:30 PM
Navy Memorial Stadium – Annapolis
How did these teams get here?
Maryland started out strong (4-0) then ran into the machine of Florida State, who blew the Terps’ doors off, and they struggled to recover, finishing the stretch, 3-4 and a final record of 7-5. Marshall started off 2-2, with two wins at home and two road losses, one in triple overtime at Virginia Tech, but they would finish on a terror, losing only one more game and toppling East Carolina on their way to the C-USA championship to face the Rice Owls, who beat the Herd 41-24.
How can they win?
Maryland: For Maryland, hopefully their faithful can make the short journey to Annapolis and make it a sort of a home crowd atmosphere. The Terps’ quarterback C.J. Brown had some injury problems mid-season, but played the last four games and helped salvage the Terps’ season. When Brown is 100 percent, he is a major threat to run the ball and even ran for more touchdowns this season than threw them (12 rush/11 pass). The Terrapins receiving options are very well-rounded, with no receiver having more than 600 yards but five receivers having more 400 yards and all five receivers floating around the 30 catch range. On defense, linebacker Marcus Whitfield had nine sacks on the season and will need to get after Marshall’s Rakeem Cato.
Marshall: All about the points and Marshall scores a lot of them. The Herd has the seventh best ranked scoring offense in the country, and scored at least 45 points in eight games, and 50+ points in five games. Rakeem Cato had a monster season; he threw 3579 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. He isn’t the dual-threat that Brown is, but if the look isn’t right, Cato could take the easy yards. Cato’s eyes are likely to find his star receiver, the 5’7″ Tommy Shuler, who was three catches from a 100 catch season, and finished with 1097 yards and nine touchdowns, and he didn’t top the team in touchdown catches, that was the tight end Gator Hoskins, who had 44 catches, 717 yards, and 13 scores. Offensively, Marshall is a tornado because it doesn’t drop off if they hand the ball off. Essray Taliaferro had a great season in his first season as a full timer, rushing for 1059 yards on 202 attempts and nine rushing touchdowns.
Prediction: Marshall’s offense is an unbelievable force, and Maryland can attempt to pace but won’t able to keep up with. Maryland 31 – Marshall 48