East Carolina vs Maryland
Most signs point to a pretty easy time for Maryland. The Terrapins (8-4) are in an upbeat mood after bouncing back from a 2-10 record in 2009. They're going against an East Carolina (6-6) team that lost its footing late in the season, falling in four of its last five to barely achieve bowl eligibility.
Maryland also should benefit from something of a home-field advantage at RFK Stadium in Washington. And veteran Ralph Friedgen, the ACC coach of the year in his 10th season at Maryland, is going against rookie head coach Ruffin McNeil. Friedgen is 4-2 bowl games at Maryland, whereas East Carolina has lost four of its past five bowls.
A key to the Terrapins' surprising turnaround was the emergence of freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien, who won the job in the fourth week of the season and went 6-3 as a starter. He threw for 2,257 yards, 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. His passing accuracy helped the Terrapins tie for seventh in the nation in turnover margin with plus-13, and O'Brien was chosen ACC rookie of the year.
Maryland has a couple of big-play threats in wide receiver Torrey Smith and punt returner Tony Logan. In the season-ending win over N.C. State, Smith caught 14 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, he has 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns. Logan led the ACC with 18.8 yards per punt return and took two back for touchdowns.
Terrapins running backs Dave Meggett and Da'Rel Scott share the ball-carrying duties, each with more than 100 rushes and 500 yards. Meggett is averaging 5.5 yards a carry. Senior Travis Baltz has made 13 of 16 field goal attempts and averaged 42 yards per punt.
Maryland's offense has been so effective that coordinator James Franklin has been tapped for the Vanderbilt head-coaching job.
Maryland's defense has given up some yardage, but forced numerous key turnovers and held opponents to 22.3 points per game. The leader is Alex Wujciak, a three-time all-ACC linebacker who averaged 9.3 tackles per game in the regular season.
What the Pirates have going for them is one of the most prolific passing attacks in the nation. They rank seventh in passing offense (319.3 yards per game) and 12th in scoring (38.2 points per game). Junior Dominique Davis has thrown for 3,699 yards, fourth-best in the nation. He has a .649 completion percentage, 36 touchdowns, just 14 interceptions and nine rushing touchdowns. His favorite receivers are Dwayne Harris (1,055 yards, 10 TDs) and Lance Lewis (979 yards, 13 TDs). Also the primary kick returner, Harris is averaging 171.0 all-purpose yards. Jon Williams has rushed for 882 yards, 10 touchdowns and a 5.5-yard average.
The Pirates managed a .500 record despite a porous defense that ranks 118th in the nation, allowing 43.4 points a game, including 76 by Navy. ECU went 1-3 outside Conference USA, knocking off the ACC's N.C. State 33-27 in overtime.
This is the fifth consecutive bowl game for East Carolina and its first game against Maryland.
Terrapins are 8-4 ATS (against the spread) The spread is Maryland -7.5 as of this posting and the Over / Under is at 67.5.
This should be a high scoring affair guys, Over should hit ! Right now I'm leaning Maryland -7.5 but will wait to see if there is any late line movement. The line opened at 7.5 and has not moved.
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