Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)2:30 p.m. today, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000 FieldTurf Revolution), Annapolis, Md.TV: ESPNCrew: Mike Patrick play-by-play, Ed Cunningham color, Jeannine Edwards sidelinesLine: Marshall by 21/2Series: First meetingTickets: Available, $20-$75Weather: Sunny, 43 at kickoff
On the spotRakeem Cato, Marshall quarterback: Led by Marcus Whitfield and Andre Monroe, the Terrapins have sacked opposing quarterbacks 36 times. If the Virginia Tech game is any indicator, you cannot expect the Herd offensive line to keep that pass rush away the whole game, or even for an entire drive. Cato's Houdini act will be tested to the max.Tyler Williams and Marshall punting unit: Speaking of Virginia Tech, Maryland's special-teamers surely watched MU's blocked punt in Blacksburg. After the Herd suffered another one at Middle Tennessee in late October, the punt unit regrouped and has been protecting better since. But consider this - surely, Maryland's punt rush is better than those of Southern Miss, Florida International and Rice, right? As for Williams, he returned to his 45-yard-plus form over the last three games. Can he keep that up?
Stats 'n' such
In the stat rankings: Cato is fourth nationally in passing TDs (36) and points responsible for (252), while Gator Hoskins is seventh in receiving TDs (13). Team-wise , the Herd ranks fifth nationally in first downs (340) and third-down percentage (.523), seventh in scoring offense (43.0) and red-zone offense (.918) and 12th in total offense (502.3). The Herd is 120th in blocked kicks allowed (six) and 108th in fumbles lost (13).
For Maryland, William Likely is 13th in kickoff returns (27.0) and 17th in punt returns (12.8). As a team, the Terrapins are sixth in tackles for loss (8.0), 10th in sacks (3.0) and 17th in fewest penalty yards per game (36.0), but are 110th in third-down conversions (.331), 111th in red-zone defense (.896), 117th in fourth-down percentage (.267) and 123rd in fumbles lost (18).Milestones: Cato's next touchdown will give him 89, tying him for second with Byron Leftwich on MU's career list. In single-season rankings, Cato already owns the mark for completions (408) and could nab the record for attempts (he has 584, Tony Petersen had 622), TD passes (Cato 37, Chad Pennington 39) and completion percentage (Cato is at .6952, Stan Hill was .6963 in 2003). ... Hoskins needs one TD to give him 27, breaking a tie for third place with Mike Barber. It also would give him 14 for the season, breaking a tie for fifth with James Williams and Brian Dowler. ... Tommy Shuler's next reception gives him 222 in his career, putting him alone in fourth, and he needs 41 yards to reach Aaron Dobson for ninth in that category. For single-season marks, Shuler has 97 catches, chasing Troy Brown (101), Mike Barber (106) and Shuler last year (110). A 100-yard day would lift him from 13th to eighth in receiving yards, maching Dowler's 1,197.
Over-unders21/2 Sacks of Cato: The Herd has allowed 25 sacks, so its offensive line hasn't been impenetrable.133 Marshall rushing yards: That's what the Thundering Herd gained against Virginia Tech, a game that seems to be a benchmark for today's performance.17:39 How far into the game Marshall scores its first touchdown: That's how long the Herd took to get on the board Dec. 7 at Rice, and that was as much of a problem as the Owls' success on offense.Completely useless triviaIn Maryland bowl history, two games have accounted for 19 different records - a 51-20 dusting of East Carolina in the 2010 Military Bowl and the 41-7 thumping of West Virginia in the 2004 Gator Bowl. All you need to sum those up: The Terps gained 522 total yards vs. ECU and 478 vs. WVU, and those are the two highest totals in 24 bowls played by Maryland.
NextIt's on to off-season conditioning - and for Maryland, on to the Big Ten.