>East Carolina vs. Maryland
This game makes for an interesting case as Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen will no longer be the coach of the Terps after the game. After winning ACC Coach of the Year in 2010, the Maryland Athletic Department decided to buy out Friedgen.
Maryland (8-4) is back in a bowl game for the first time since beating Nevada 42-35 in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. Maryland’s return to the postseason came after the Terps dropped their last seven games of 2009 and finished 2-10.
The Pirates are centered around a passing game that is among the best in the nation, averaging 319.3 yards with 37 touchdowns.
Dominique Davis shattered team records with 36 TD passes, 3,699 yards and 358 completions — 99 more than the previous mark. The junior, in his first season at East Carolina, connected on 64.9 percent of his throws and had 14 interceptions.
Davis threw 18 TDs and four picks while posting a 145.2 rating over the last five games.
Receivers Dwayne Harris and Lance Lewis are Davis’ top targets. Harris has a Conference USA-high 93 receptions along with 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lewis’ 78 catches are third in the league, and he has a team-best 13 TD receptions and 979 yards.
While East Carolina’s offensive power is clear, the defense has had major problems. The unit is the worst in the country, allowing averages of 43.4 points and 478.8 yards — 220.8 rushing. The Pirates have given up 54.8 points per game over the last five contests.
Terps freshman Danny O’Brien is coming off a stellar performance in the season finale, going 33 of 47 for 417 yards and throwing four touchdowns to Torrey Smith. O’Brien has thrown for 2,257 yards, 21 scoring passes and six interceptions.
Torrey Smith is tied for the ACC lead with 12 TD catches and has 1,045 receiving yards.
Prediction: East Carolina 49, Maryland 40