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2010 Military Bowl - Maryland vs. E. Carolina
Maryland WR Torry Smith & ECU QB Dominique Davis
Maryland WR Torry Smith & ECU QB Dominique Davis
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 28, 2010


2010-2011 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2010 Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman - Maryland vs. East Carolina

2010 Military Bowl

Maryland
(8-4) vs. East Carolina (6-6)

 
Wednesday, December 29th, 2:30, ESPN  

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Pick ATS: Maryland  Confidence Score: 135
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 32 out of 35
SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Richard Cirminiello

Formerly known as the EagleBank Bowl, the inaugural Military Bowl is the reward for two schools that few expected to bowl this December.

If preseason predictions were your only barometer, you’d have figured the seasons of Maryland and East Carolina would already be over. The Terrapins were coming off a two-win implosion and their talent level didn’t appear to stack up with the rest of the ACC. The Pirates, though back-to-back Conference USA champs, had been completely gutted by graduation and lost architect Skip Holtz to South Florida. Yet, somehow both programs found the right formula to exceed expectations and become bowl-eligible.

Statistics In Yards
UM   EC
4,109 Total
Offense
5,346
4,237 Total
Defense
5,746
30.7 Scoring
Offense
38.2
22.3 Scoring
Defense
43.4
1,499 Rushing
Offense
1,526
1,586 Rushing
Defense
2,650
2,610 Passing
Offense
3,820
2,651 Passing
Defense
3,096
1.08 Turnover Margin -0.42
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
UM   EC
3.5 QBs 4.5
4 RBs 3
4 WRs 3
3.5 O Line 3
3 D Line 2
3.5 LBs 2
3.5 DBs 1.5
4 STs 3
2 Coach 3
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
Maryland was the bigger surprise of the two participants. The team was dragging its feet into this season with a new quarterback, and a roster littered with more holes than a whiffle ball. However, the Terrapins made a statement right out of the gate, beating Navy in the opener with a handful of goal line stops, and went on to contend for the ACC Atlantic right through November, capping the regular season by denying NC State the crown with a 38-31 victory.

Almost as important as the eight wins for Maryland was the development of a quarterback for the future. Finally. Redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien didn’t begin the season as the starter, but he was entrenched by mid-year, giving the program the passing threat it’s been seeking for years. He brought a fresh energy to the team and a brighter outlook for the future, finishing with 21 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. In the win over the Wolfpack, he was nearly perfect, going 33-of-47 for 417 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks.

However, even with all the success, and even with the bounceback year, ACC Coach of the Year, Ralph Friedgen, was canned, and the program is now in limbo. It might seem like there are big things to come, but getting a bowl win to cap off the big season would be enough for now.

East Carolina began the season with a replacement for Holtz, Ruffin McNeill, who had no head coaching experience, new starters everywhere, and a completely new system of offense. It also began the year with a miraculous Hail Mary to beat Tulsa, 51-49, a precursor of what was to come. Easily one of the more entertaining teams in the country, the Pirates combined a pass-happy offense with a toothless defense to play two overtime games and a slew of wild shootouts. ECU didn’t play a game season in which at least one team scored 33 points.

If the Pirates are going to avoid a losing campaign after starting so well, they’ll need to reverse a disturbing second half trend. Their 5-2 start was balanced out by a miserable 1-4 finish that saw the defense completely fall apart. Over those final five games, McNeill’s defense allowed a staggering 55 points a game, putting way too much pressure on the offensive players. This situation won’t be solved overnight, but progress will have to be made prior to kickoff.

Weather-permitting in the nation’s capital, points should come in droves in the first Military Bowl. They always do when East Carolina is in the building. The key for Maryland will be to take advantage of an opponent that’s struggling on defense, but has taken great pride over the years in knocking off teams from the ACC.

Players to Watch: While O’Brien to WR Torrey Smith will remain a staple in this offense, Maryland would love to improve its running game, a sector that sputtered all season. A date with East Carolina and the nation’s 116th-ranked run defense could provide an immediate boost. It’s not as if the Terps don’t have talent in the form of Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. They do. It’s just that nagging injuries and poor blocking have been major impediments to success. Scott, in particular, is capable of putting an exclamation on his career, especially if a cold, stiff wind forces the offensive staff to play it a little conservative.

Even in its wildest dreams, East Carolina could not have imagined what it was getting when QB Dominique Davis opted to transfer from Boston College to Greenville. He looked like a marginal passer at the time, but he meshed well with the Air Raid attack and ended up being one of Conference USA’s most pleasant surprises. Making the most of a very good receiving corps, he’s sixth nationally in total offense, throwing for 36 touchdowns and just under 3,700 yards. Don’t count on East Carolina running the ball successfully, which makes Davis that much more important.

When Davis drops back to throw, he’ll likely be looking for No. 17 and No. 88, Dwayne Harris and Lance Lewis, respectively. The pair has combined for 23 touchdown catches and more than 2,000 receiving yards, showing an ability to find the soft spots in defenses and pick up yards after the catch. While they’ll enjoy an advantage over an average collection of Maryland cornerbacks, the same cannot be said about the safeties. Harris and Lewis ought to keep their heads on a swivel for Antwine Perez and Kenny Tate, in particular, big thumpers who can separate them from the ball.

Maryland’s defensive success this season can be traced to the linebackers, who’ve fulfilled expectations in 2010. Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, and Demetrius Hartsfield form one of the nation’s more underrated units, blending excellent size with the instincts to make plays all over the field. Wujciak has a team-high 112 tackles and Moten leads the way with four picks, providing a spark on that side of the ball. Add in slashing tackles Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and the Terps will be too strong up the middle for East Carolina to navigate running lanes on the interior.

East Carolina will win if ... it can hold up for all four quarters.

The Pirates’ biggest problem, besides the obvious defensive woes, has been an inability to make halftime adjustments and compete for all 60 minutes. Throughout the year, opponents ran circles around them over the final two quarters, an indication of a serious lack of depth. Maryland is a little bigger, stronger, and faster, so it’ll be imperative for East Carolina to maintain its stamina and get support from off the bench. It’ll also help to grab an early lead and force the Terrapins out of their comfort zone. The Pirates have nearly been doubled up in the third quarter of games, making a little first half cushion that much more important.

Maryland will win if ... it controls the line of scrimmage and runs the ball well.

The Terrapins have the edge up front, an advantage it has to exploit against a smaller East Carolina front wall. Yes, they’ve run the ball poorly this season, averaging only 125 yards a game, but that should change in Washington. The Pirates are yielding more than five yards a carry, struggling to get much backfield pressure or prevent backs from reaching the second level. Especially in wintry weather, it’s incumbent upon Scott and Meggett to get out of their blocks quickly and into the East Carolina secondary as much as possible. Worn out and forced to defend the run, the Pirates will be ripe on play-action passes, allowing O’Brien to spot Smith and the other outside guys streaking behind the secondary.

What will happen: Unless that East Carolina defense has done a complete 180 since November, it’s in no position to defeat a quality team out of the ACC.

The Pirates can stick with the Terrapins for two, maybe three quarters behind the playmaking of Davis and his talented receivers, but playing in a cold weather city greatly diminishes their chances of throwing the ball effectively. However, at some point they’ll need to make a stop on defense and force a punt, which doesn’t happen quite nearly enough around Greenville. After halftime, they’ll begin to buckle, falling prey to a bigger line and the north-south running of the Maryland backs. Scott and Meggett will see plenty of running room, putting O’Brien in fortuitous third-and-short situations. The Terps will pull away as the game winds down, milking the clock and wearing out an overmatched Pirate D.

CFN Prediction: Maryland 35 … East Carolina 24 ... Line: Maryland -7
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Pick ATS: Maryland  Confidence Score: 135
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 32 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Maryland  Pick Confidence - 13
- If nothing else, the stands should be packed and there should be plenty of excitement for a game with two good geographic tie-ins. Maryland had a phenomenal bounced back year after a disastrous 2009, but can the offense keep up the pace with an East Carolina offense that's one of the most explosive in the nation? Yup ... the Pirates have the worst defense in college football. This will be a sneaky-fun shootout.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Maryland   Pick Confidence - 20
- East Carolina might have the worst defense in the postseason … ever. This is a great spot for Maryland QB Danny O’Brien to wrap up a terrific first year with a big day through the air.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Maryland  Pick Confidence - 19
- Former ACC quarterback Dominique Davis (Boston College) faces a familiar foe. Lots of passes will fly and plenty of points will be scored. Perfect for a Military Bowl.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Maryland  Pick Confidence - 16
- Does East Carolina even dress a defense?

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Maryland  Pick Confidence - 8
- Maryland was one of the surprises this season, and they get rewarded with a pseudo home game.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Maryland  Pick Confidence - 21
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Maryland   Pick Confidence - 25
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Maryland  Pick Confidence - 25
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - East Carolina  Pick Confidence -  2
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - East Carolina   Pick Confidence -  10