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The Military Bowl will be playing its third edition at FedEx Field in our nation's capitol, and the hometown team, the Maryland Terrapins will be taking on a team from just up the road, the East Carolina Pirates. This clash should be a very, very interesting one, as these two teams have significantly different styles, and it should make for a great duel for NCAA football betting fans to take in. Check out our Military Bowl picks for Wednesday afternoon.
Military Bowl Matchup: East Carolina Pirates vs. Maryland Terrapins
Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 2:30 ET
Location: FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Military Bowl Line: Maryland -7.5
Pirates Notes: The Pirates are the far more interesting team in this game, as there is no doubt that this team is going to be scoring a ton of points, but will be conceding just as many. We'll start on defenses, where things were just awful this year. Six different teams put at least 49 on the board against ECU, including a season worst 76 points allowed to the Navy Midshipmen, the second most points conceded by an FBS team this season and the most for a team that is playing in a bowl game this year. Allowing 480.4 yards per game ranked dead last in the FBS, and it really goes without saying that this can't be the case again on Wednesday if the Pirates really have any chance of winning the Military Bowl. Regardless of how bad the defense plays on a regular basis, ECU is never out of games because of how strong QB Dominique Davis is. Davis is familiar with the Terps having transferred from Boston College. He had the second most TDs in college football this year with a total of 45, trailing just Auburn's QB Cam Newton. Davis threw for 36 TDs and 3,687 yards, and he was certainly good for a few miracles along the way, such as the Hail Mary against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at the start of the season. Davis has two fantastic receivers to get the ball to. WR Dwayne Harris caught 93 passes for 1,055 yards and ten TDs this year, while WR Lance Lewis had 78 grabs for 979 yards and 13 trips to the end zone. On the ground, RB Jonathan Williams had 846 yards and ten TDs.
Terrapins Notes: Poor Head Coach Ralph Friedgen knows that this is probably the last game of his coaching career, as he has been bought out by the team and will be replaced by Mike Leach once this one is over with. This came as a bit of a shock for a man that figured to be able to stay in College Park for as long as he wanted, especially after getting back on track this year after a terrible year in 2009. The Terrapins didn't end up winning the ACC this year, but to think that this was a team that was really in it the entire way in the Atlantic Division was impressive. Maryland was shoddy at times offensively, though the ACC never really gave it a week off. Averaging 345.0 yards per game is one of the worst marks amongst teams in bowl game this year, but 30.7 points per game was enough to win eight games on the campaign. Over the course of the last five games of the season, the Terps averaged 35.6 points per game in spite of the fact that they only went 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS. The hero of this offense this year was WR Torrey Smith, who caught 65 balls for 1,045 yards and 12 TDs, but he really sparked the team in the finale against the NC State Wolfpack, catching 14 passes, four of which went for TDs. QB Danny O'Brien threw for 2,257 yards and 21 TDs this year against just six picks, and his key is going to be taking care of the football. Maryland knows that its defense is going to be tested in this one, especially by Davis. Allowing anywhere near the team's averages of 352.7 yards and 22.3 points per game would be quite the accomplishment and would probably be enough to beat the Military Bowl odds going away.
The Final Word: This one is just too important for the Terps to lose. East Carolina is probably one of the worst bowl teams this year in the nation, and there was a reason that this squad just wasn't expected to challenge in Conference USA. The Pirates overachieved all season long, but this battle is just too difficult for them to overcome. The Terrapins should get some fantastic offense going, and Smith should really shine with a tremendous afternoon. If that's the case, just a few stops on the Pirates should be enough to seal the deal by a double digit margin.
Military Bowl Free Pick: Maryland -7.5
Military Bowl Prediction: Maryland 44 – East Carolina 28