Let's go bowling: All 35 breakdowns

Why to watch: Marshall has one of the country's most prolific offenses, averaging 43.1 points per game. The Thundering Herd led FBS teams in passing with 365.1 yards per game and scored more than 40 points in six consecutive games until losing at Rice 41-24 in the Conference USA championship game Dec. 7. Maryland isn't a bad offense, either, if quarterback C.J. Brown is healthy and running the ball well.

Who to watch: Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, a junior from Miami, completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 3,579 yards with 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He ranked third among FBS quarterbacks in passing touchdowns and 10th in passing yards. He was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year and threw 21 touchdowns in the past five games.

Motivating factor for Marshall: After going 5-7 last season, the Thundering Herd have a chance to double their win total with a victory over the Terrapins. Marshall hasn't had a 10-win season since going 11-2 in back-to-back seasons in 2001 and '02.

Motivating factor for Maryland: The Terrapins can't seem to catch a break under coach Randy Edsall, who guided them to a 7-5 record after going 6-18 in his first two seasons. Maryland lost top receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long in mid-October, but recovered to win two of its past three games, including a 27-24 overtime win at Virginia Tech on Nov. 16. A bowl victory would be icing on the cake.

Pick: Marshall 34, Maryland 24


Minnesota
Syracuse

Texas Bowl

Syracuse vs. Minnesota, Dec. 27 (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET)

Why to watch: You might want to check out the Gophers, one of the best feel-good stories of the college football season. Minnesota is playing in the Texas Bowl for the second consecutive season, even after it was picked to finish last in the Big Ten's Legends Division in the preseason. Worse, coach Jerry Kill took a leave of absence because of epileptic seizures, only to return and coach from the press box late in the season.

Who to watch: Gophers tailback David Cobb, a junior from Killeen, Texas, ran for 1,111 yards with seven touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He didn't become Minnesota's workhorse back until the seventh game, but finished with five 100-yard performances in the last six contests to become its first 1,000-yard runner since 2006. He ran for a career-high 188 yards with one touchdown in a 42-39 win at Indiana on Nov. 2.

Motivating factor for Syracuse: The Orange needs a victory to finish with a winning record in its first season in the ACC and first campaign under coach Scott Shafer. Syracuse lost two of its last three games and had to beat Boston College 34-31 on Nov. 30 to become bowl-eligible.

Motivating factor for Minnesota: The Gophers can cap off what has already been a memorable season. They won four of their last six games after Kill took a leave of absence, beating Nebraska and Penn State and winning four straight Big Ten games for the first time since 1973. A victory would give them only their second nine-win campaign in the past 108 seasons.

Pick: Minnesota 28, Syracuse 24


Washington
BYU

Fight Hunger Bowl

BYU vs. Washington, Dec. 27 (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET)

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...