- Phil Steele, ESPN Staff Writer
One of my favorite times of the year is upon us, as bowl games give the opportunity for 35 teams to head into the offseason on a positive note. It is also the one time of year when you get unique factors of several teams playing with interim coaches while also seeing some teams unmotivated to be in certain bowls.
After going 101-34 in the regular season (73-61-1 versus the spread), here are my picks for the second set of bowl games that kick off on Friday and run through Monday. Keep checking back on ESPN Insider all bowl season, as I'll be giving my picks for every game.
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Marshall Thundering Herd versus Maryland Terrapins
Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
I labeled the Thundering Herd as my most improved team in the country this year as they went from five wins to nine and earned a Conference USA East Division title. Quarterback Rakeem Cato, who has thrown a touchdown pass in 30 consecutive games, leads a potent offense, while the defense has improved considerably. Marshall has allowed 20 fewer points per game than what it did a year ago.
On the other side, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall came into the season on the hot seat, but he managed seven wins despite losing the team's two most dynamic players on offense to season-ending injuries. The Herd have an opportunity here to grab their first double-digit-win season since 2002, and I cannot back down now from my preseason most improved prediction.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dAndrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna