East Carolina, Marshall Carry C-USA Bowl Banner
By Dan Harralson
The 2013-14 bowl schedule is out and six Conference USA teams are going bowling. Let's take a look at the C-USA bowl games.
New Orleans Bowl: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Second-year head coach Curtis Johnson has the Green Wave bowling for the first time since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl. Nick Montana has lived up to the hype and Tulane has a date with in-state foe Louisiana-Lafayette. Lafayette will be making its third consecutive New Orleans Bowl appearance and also is going for three straight bowl wins inside the Superdome.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl: East Carolina vs. Ohio
Ohio head coach Frank Solich may be remembered for the worst national championship game loss of the BCS era, losing to Miami as the Nebraska head coach (2001). Solich will face another good bowl opponent in East Carolina and Ohio will have to slow down the Pirates' up-tempo offense. The Pirates are averaging 460 yards of offense per game and are doing it at a quick pace, only controlling the ball for 29 minutes. If Ohio can eat clock and run the ball successfully, the Bobcats could make ECU play their style of ball.
Military Bowl: Marshall vs. Maryland
This is an intriguing matchup: Marshall has the offense and Maryland has the defense. Rakeem Cato will look to end the season on a high note after losing the C-USA championship game to Rice. Maryland began the 2013 season 4-0, but finished with only three wins in its last eight games. Time off will let the Terrapins time work on their pass and rush defense. Maryland is giving up 151.2 yards per game on the ground and 215.8 through the air; the Thundering Herd average 544.2 offensive yards per contest.
Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs. Navy
Middle Tennessee State concluded the regular season with a five-game winning streak, but will have to show a run defense if the Blue Raiders have a chance in the Armed Forces Bowl. Navy continues to run the triple option and is averaging 320.1 yards per game on the ground, while the Blue Raiders are allowing 185.8 rushing yards per game. That is nearly double the yardage and could reflect the outcome on the scoreboard.
Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas vs. UNLV
Former Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney has turned North Texas into a bowl team after going 5-7 and 4-8 during his first two seasons in Denton. Four of North Texas' five losses came by one score, with Georgia providing the exception. Losses to Ohio, Tulane and UTSA were all to bowl teams; UTSA won seven games, but cannot play in a bowl due to NCAA rules regulating the Roadrunners' transition to FBS,
Liberty Bowl: Rice vs. Mississippi State
Mississippi State had to win the Egg Bowl to make a bowl game. Dan Mullen broke out the gold helmets against Ole Miss and the Bulldogs took the Magnolia State bragging rights, 17-10. Rice has been a steady C-USA contender all season and defeated Marshall for the conference championship. The matchup will showcase the C-USA champion against the SEC's lowest-tier bowl team, which makes for a good matchup. With Mississippi State facing Rice, the Bulldogs will have played the SEC champion (Auburn), MAC champion (Bowling Green) and C-USA champion (Rice).