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East Carolina vs. Maryland
Betting Line: Maryland -7 o/u 68
Expectations were light for the Maryland Terrapins entering this year, but
they finished with an 8-4 record with wins over Navy and North Carolina State.
HC Ralph Friedgen has lost OC James Franklin to Vanderbilt where he will be HC.
Freshman QB Danny O'Brien breathed life into the offense this year. On the
season he has passed for 2,257 yards and 21 TDs. His last game of the season was
clearly the best as he scorched NC State for 4 TDs. The Terps are 38th in the
country in Points Against at 22.3 PPG. The secondary can be shaky at times and
it will be put to the test in this game.
East Carolina finished the season 6-6 in their first year without wunderkind HC Skip Holtz. New HC Ruffin McNeill did an excellent job. This team boasts the 7th best passing offense in the country and ranks 12th in Points For at 38.2 PPG. Junior QB Dominique Davis passed for 3,699 yards and 36 TDs this year. He burned UAB for 5 TDs in a 54-42 win. Defense is clearly a problem. They allowed Virginia Tech to get 49, UNC scored 42 and Navy got 76. If they want to win here they will have do so by scoring nearly every time they touch the ball. That isn't an easy task.
Handicapping Bowl games is never easy. There's a big gap of time between the
last game of the season and the Bowl game. In that time, many things can happen.
Players can get in trouble and get suspended for example. Or, coaches can be
fired. Even good ones. Such is the case here. After overachieving this year and
making the most of the talent he had, Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen was
given his walking papers. Not only did he end up with an 8-4 record and a bowl
game, but he was also named ACC coach of the year!
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When something like this happens, it opens up the door to a laundry list of potential problems. For starters, many assistants have already flown the coop, including their offensive coordinator, leaving the play calling duties up to the wide receiver coach. The other problem is the motivation of the players. The Seniors likely want to send off coach Friedgen with a big win. But the younger kids on the team may not be as motivated.
We had this game circled as a key release prior to the firing of Friedgen. The firing left us with the task of deciding whether or not this would still be a play. We decided to go ahead and still play the game. We're hoping the team rallies behind their fallen coach. The players are the same. The assistant coaches who need to step up to the plate should all be capable.
We like the game because it qualifies as a play under everything we look for statistically. Maryland is simply a much better football team. They can move the ball just as easily as East Carolina can. The biggest difference is defensively. Maryland has one and East Carolina doesn't. There are going to be plenty of points scored here. One defense is going to come up with a big stop or two and that will be the difference. That team will likely be Maryland. Also note turnover margin here. Maryland +13 and East Carolina -5.
This game comes up as one of the largest gaps of all the bowls when using our score prediction model. We have Maryland winning this one 52-29, which would be an automatic play for us during the regular season. All of the other numbers we look at support the play as well. There is a mix of -7 and -7.5 out there currently. Mostly -7.5. Make sure you get -7 or better. If you have to lay a little extra juice to get the -7, go ahead. That hook may come into play here.
3* Key Release Maryland -7