Conference-USA school Marshall has accepted a bid to the Military Bowl, and could very well face Maryland later this month in Annapolis. The school announced the news on their official website.
The news is less than ideal for some Maryland fans, who were hoping the team would face East Carolina or Middle Tennessee State if the Terps got selected to play in the game (as expected). The Thundering Herd won the East Division over those two schools, and were expected to defeat Rice in the Conference-USA Championship Game, resulting in either the Pirates or the Blue Raiders -- two easier opponents -- playing in the Military Bowl.
As we all know, upsets happen, and Rice strolled to a 41-24 victory Saturday, cementing their spot in the Liberty Bowl and forcing the Thundering Herd to travel to Annapolis. Let's take a brief look at the team, in case Maryland ends up playing them on December 27.
This would be the first-ever matchup between the two schools, but they did play two common opponents this year. The Thundering Herd lost to Virginia Tech 29-21 in triple overtime (while the Terps defeated the Hokies in overtime themselves), and easily defeated FIU 48-10 (while Maryland won 43-10).
Statistics don't really favor the Terrapins in this one, but Marshall played a much easier schedule in Conference-USA. The Thundering Herd went 9-4 this season, with an average regular season margin of victory of 44.6-21.7. Marshall has an extremely balanced offense led by quarterback Rakeem Cato, who threw 36 touchdowns against nine interceptions this season, and running back Essray Taliaferro, who ran for over 1,000 yards this season.
The Thundering Herd led the conference in scoring offense and total offense, and were second in both passing offense and rushing offense. Defensively, they ranked third in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed.
On the advanced statistical side, Marshall is favored again. The Thundering Herd rank 42nd in F/+, with Maryland at 64th. Marshall has the advantage in offensive F/+ (ranked 24th to Maryland's 75th) and defensive F/+ (64th to 70th), but the Terps have a decided advantage in special teams F/+ (14th compared to 98th).
If this is the bowl matchup (and all signs point to it being the case), it would certainly be a tough one for Maryland -- and a tougher one than they faced in their last Military Bowl appearance, against East Carolina.