Bowl Breakdown: Emerald

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t1_henderson.jpg's Stewart Mandel analyzes the matchup.

Oregon State beat the teams it was supposed to while losing handily to the likes of Cincinnati (34-3), UCLA (40-14) and USC (24-3). Yvenson Bernard (1,037 yards, 12 TDs) is one of the best runners in the Pac-10, but he missed two games with a knee injury. He's expected back. Somewhat-erratic, young QB Lyle Moevao has gone 3-0 since taking over for injured Sean Canfield.

LB Derrick Dogett (85 tackles, four interceptions) leads an aggressive Beavers defense that ranks 12th nationally in yards allowed (313 per game). Other standouts include defensive end Dorian Smith (six sacks) and linebacker Joey LaRocque (10 tackles for loss). Oregon State's most valuable weapon may be four-year kicker Alexis Serna, though he struggled as a punter.

A roller-coaster season took an upswing when former third-string QB Chris Turner led the Terps to a 34-24 win at Rutgers on Sept. 29. He started the rest of the way, throwing for 337 yards in an upset of Boston College. Running backs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball are both capable performers but struggled at times behind a banged-up line. Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is a big-play threat.

Maryland's defense was not exactly dominant but also had few truly bad games. The undisputed star of the unit is linebacker Erin Henderson (122 tackles), though Dave Philstin (121 tackles) was nearly as productive. The front four failed to generate much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as the Terps finished with just 23 sacks.

How do you handicap a game featuring two exceedingly schizophrenic teams? When Maryland's offense is clicking, as it was late in the season, the Terps -- who will be aided by the return of injured guard Andrew Crummey -- have more big-play capability than the Beavers. If Turner plays well and the defense can hold down Bernard, Maryland will pull out a close one.

The pick: Maryland 27, Oregon State 23