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Tough to see how Marshall could be favored

SOME MUSINGS before hitting the road to the nation's capital, Maryland's capital and, I surely hope, a crab house or two:

n Marshall is a 21/2-point favorite over Maryland in the Military Bowl? Really?

That's what the oddsmakers say. Keep in mind they don't care how the game turns out, only that they get the same action on both sides. So it's the betting public (where legal) who ultimately determines these lines.

I don't bet on humans and even it I did, I wouldn't wager on games I have a duty to cover. But I've watched the Herd plays seven road games and, trust me, I'd favor Maryland by a touchdown, maybe eight points. Remember, the Terrapins are a legitmate home team at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Now, let's be fair about the Thundering Herd's road record — 3-4 is better than you could expect in the previous decade, even the tail end of MU's time in the Mid-American Conference.

The Herd's first three losses were by a total of five points (counting the triple-overtime Virginia Tech game as a "zero"). I know, I know, the Herd should be better than Ohio and Middle Tennessee State, but you don't always win the close ones.

The problem for me is the Herd's last game, 41-24 loss at Rice. That was an egg-laying, and it wasn't as close as the score indicated. On the other hand, the Terrapins have won two out their last three and the loss came on a last-play field goal.

This 9-4 season has been a breath of fresh air for the Herd, and should be considered as much by its fans. But getting to the 10th win is a genuinely uphill battle.

n Basketball official Duke Edsall, brother of Maryland coach Randy Edsall, is a frequent visitor to Cam Henderson Center, known well enough to be called by name by fans (even in a nice way). He has officiated eight MU games in three years, most recently the one against Alice Lloyd.

Throughout Randy's years at Connecticut and the three seasons at Maryland, Duke has given us an update or two about his brother's career, and tells of games he has been able to catch in person.

I wouldn't mind hearing a story or two of Randy following his brother, but that isn't going to be the case, I'm afraid. In a week where Florida State took pains to make its coach available, the UM folks big-timed me on a request for an interview there.

Hazards of the biz, I reckon.

n Last Friday, as MU's ticket office closed for the week and I asked for a figure on how many Military Bowl tickets were sold through the school. It's important, because Marshall gets the first $100,000 in those sales and a cut of the rest.

Didn't get a number. Just sayin'.

n Many Herd fans aren't going because the game is played in an open-air stadium in the not-so-tropical climate of Annapolis. I understand.

(The forecast does call for sunny skies with that 42-degree weather, though. Warmer than that game at Rice, until the sun sets at 4:50 p.m.)

But today, I'm pointing the finger at that $77 price tag, $75 at the gate. Unless you get some ducats in your stocking, that has to make some of you say, "Whoa!"

That's at least $20 too high, and I think I'm being kind. As some Herd fans know, a non-chairback seat at Joan C. Edwards Stadium goes for $35. I do consider that a reasonable price, and I am hoping MU officials will hold the line on that for another year or three.

MU's allotment at the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl two years ago featured lower-level seats for $55. But the bowl was selling upper-deck seats for $35, and here's the dirty secret: The upstairs seats on the baseball first-base line had better views in Tropicana Field's football configuration.

Similarly, the Military Bowl features cheaper seats, $50 for the upper level and $20 for standing room. School officials don't want to hear this, but I would consider this route after Christmas shopping hammered my wallet.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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