Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bowling Style Pregame: Maryland vs. Nevada, the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl

The final game for Maryland is today on the blue turf in Boise, Idaho. After some fun with visiting a medical center, playing in the snow, and actual bowling against their competition (losing 213-196), now it is time to go to the field for the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl. After a 7-5 season, the Maryland Terrapins will line up against another 7-5 squad, the Nevada Wolfpack from the WAC. Gametime is set for 4:30 ET on Boise State's blue field.

It will be the last time an ACC team plays in the Humanitarian Bowl for a while, as the conference announced that they will withdraw from it after this season. It is easy to see why, ticket sales from the ACC team are very low due to its distance from the east coast and current economy. A couple weeks ago, it was reported that ticket sales from both combined teams were 24 total. No doubt many Boise residents will be at the game, but it is doubtful that there will be a ton of fans.

Even though this bowl has very little glamour around it, it still is important that Maryland win this game. It does not matter that there is no recruiting base in Boise or that it is a WAC opponent, the fact is a loss would embarrass the program and the team. Ralph Friedgen wants to be sure this season ends on a good note. Maryland has lost three of their last four games, has only won games in double digits twice, and is 1-4 away from College Park.

Scouting the Competition: Nevada Wolfpack

The Wolfpack nearly spared the BCS committee some pain when they took Boise State to the brink in late November, nearly coming back in their game from 21 down, ending the game with a loss by 7. They ended their season 7-5, including wins against Fresno State and Louisiana Tech, both bowl-bound teams. They have won three of their last four games including their only game in the state that Boise is in, a 49-14 win over University of Idaho. They run the "pistol offense" according to Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post, which has a shotgun formation and relies on a running back starting his run from behind the quarterback, which the defense does not know the direction.

On offense, they are led by WAC Offensive Player of the Year Colin Kaepernick. He is a big sophomore quarterback at 6'6'' and a dangerous scrambler, running the ball 152 times at an average 7.3 yards a rush. He is accurate with his arm, completing just under 55% of his passes with 19 passing touchdowns with just five interceptions, plus 16 rushing touchdowns. His biggest target is Marko Mitchell (pictured), a 6'4'' receiver expected to be taken in the middle of the upcoming NFL Draft, with 18.1 yards a catch and 9 scores off 56 catches. Vai Taua is the tailback, rushing the ball 213 times with 6.7 yards a carry.

On the defensive side, Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch have combined for 19.5 sacks from the defensive line. Joshua Mauga, their middle linebacker, is a powerful one that will play on the next level, leading a rushing defense that is third best in the nation at yards allowed.

Things to Look Out For:
--Chris Cosh is gone after accepting a position at Kansas State, and will not coach in the bowl game. Maryland's defensive coordinator position is currently not filled, but Al Seamonson is the interim right now.
--It is reported that Jordan Steffy will be the backup to Chris Turner for this game. If he is healthy, it would not be a surprise if he played a series.
--Maryland lost their last bowl game in the western part of the country, losing in last year's Emerald Bowl to Oregon State 21-14.
--The weather report has the temperature in the mid-40s and a cloudy day. It has been snowing in previous days in Boise, but the field should be clear of participation.

Maryland has been known to play to their competition's level, and this game has trap written all over it. It is a very similar situation to Middle Tennessee State. However, in their last game, I believe Maryland will put enough together for the win on the blue field. Turner will have a big day in the air, completing his last touchdown to Darrius Hayward-Bey in a Maryland uniform.

Maryland 24, Nevada 20

(Photo credit: Maryland athletics (Terps players), AP (Mitchell))

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