Maryland-Marshall Military Bowl matchup a long time coming

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Military Bowl president Steve Beck and other bowl officials had their eye on a matchup between Maryland and Marshall long before this season began.

They had their eye on the matchup long before C.J. Brown dove for the end zone to beat Virginia Tech and long before injuries devastated nearly every unit of the team and long before Maryland got off to a 4-0 start, its best mark in a decade.

Beck had been thinking about Maryland-Marshall for close to six months, he said in a conference call with the media on Sunday, shortly after it was made official that his ideal matchup in the Military Bowl would come to be.

Because of the calculations about the probability of fan bases traveling— the closer the bowl, the more likely fans are to travel — being able to nab Maryland was key in the eyes of bowl officials, especially considering the program’s impending move to the Big Ten.

“This is Maryland’s last shot,” Beck said. “We are contracted over the next six years, so we will not have another shot at them. It really worked out great.”

But though the conventional wisdom is that Navy-Marines Corps Memorial Stadium will be awash in red and black on Dec. 27, Beck says to not underestimate the power of Marshall green.

“Marshall is a little over six hours away,” Beck said. “They travel very, very well. On game day, you’re going to see a lot of Marshall fans there as well.”

For as long as bowl officials had their eyes on Maryland-Marshall, though, it came down to the last possible week for the matchup to become a set-in-stone possibility. Brown’s game-winner against Virginia Tech did not yet lock in the Military Bowl.

Because of the ACC’s “one-win” rule in bowl selection, where a team must finish within one conference win of another in order to be selected for a bowl, Maryland season-ending win over N.C. State was key.

With Syracuse finishing 4-4 in the conference, Maryland’s victory in its final regular season game pushed it to 3-5, within one game of Syracuse and, thus, available to the Military Bowl during the selection process.

And though it won’t be a long trip for the Terrapins, coach Randy Edsall vowed Sunday that the entire bowl experience would still be presented to his players.

“This is a reward for them and the hard work they’ve put forth last winter, the spring, summer and during the season,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great experience for them, but as I told the players; they’ll be plenty of time for them to enjoy themselves before we practice and practice hard and with a purpose. We’re working to try to get win number eight.”

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