The Marshall Thundering Herd (9-4) bring their high-octane offense to Annapolis, Maryland to take on the Maryland Terrapins (7-5).
After finishing first in the Conference USA East, Marshall will be looking for its first 10-win season since 2002, while Maryland looks to improve to 6-1 against the spread in its most recent bowl games.
Point spread: Thundering Herd opened as three-point favorites on the Military Bowl spread; the total was 63. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 45.6-28.9 Thundering Herd
Why Marshall can cover the Military Bowl spread
The Thundering Herd own one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, led by junior quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato threw for 3,579 yards this year and finished third in the NCAA with 36 touchdown passes. Marshall went over the total in their last seven games, thanks to the seventh-ranked scoring offense (43 points per game).
Maryland will have a tough time matching up with speedster receiver Tommy Shuler, who led Marshall with 1,097 receiving yards, and tight end Gator Hoskins, who caught 13 touchdowns. Marshall’s offense is averaging 502 yards per game and will have no problem with the Terrapins in extending their current 7-2 against-the-spread run in bowl games.
Why Maryland can cover the Military Bowl spread
Maryland is led by a dynamic quarterback of their own, senior signal-caller CJ Brown. Brown led through the air with 2,045 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also added 12 scores with his feet, which are good enough for fourth in the country amongst quarterbacks. While Marshall boasts impressive offensive statistics, it came against inferior competition.
The Thundering Herd played the 113th ranked strength-of-schedule and were 1-4 against teams who are playing in bowls this year. Maryland can use Brown’s running ability along with running back Brandon Ross to control the tempo and keep the ball out of Cato’s hands.
In the end, Marshall’s offense is just too strong. Maryland will move the ball on the Thundering Herd’s 56th-ranked rush defense in between the 20’s, but will struggle to put points on the board. Maryland only scored 21 touchdowns on 43 red-zone attempts this year, and field goals won’t cut it against Marshall.
Compare that to Marshall, who scored 48 touchdowns on 61 red-zone trips, and ranked sixth in the nation with a 92 percent conversion rate inside the 20. The Military Bowl betting experience has been over the total with favorites winning the five straight years and, in another high-scoring contest, Marshall will outscore Maryland and cover the 2.5 points.
- All five prior bowls played OVER total
- Favorites won all five prior meetings SU
- Maryland is 5-1 ATS past six bowl games
- Marshall is 7-2 ATS past nine bowl games
- Marshall played seven straight OVERs to end the season
- OVER was 6-2 past 8 Maryland games this season