West Virginia 37 ... at Maryland 31

Posted Sep 17, 2011

Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - West Virginia at Maryland

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - West Virginia at Maryland

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Sept. 17 West Virginia 37 … at Maryland 31
CFN Analysis: If West Virginia could ever put together a full sixty minutes, it would be deadly. The offense worked well with Geno Smith bombing away for 388 yards and a touchdown, and Tavon Austin was terrific with 11 catches for 122 yards, but things started to fizzle in the second half after getting up 34-10. The offense needed to be able to run the ball, and it didn't, and when Maryland started to make it a game again, Smith and the passing game couldn't turn it back on. The Mountaineers won't do anything against LSU's run defense, and if Smith isn't flawless, they'll have big problems. However, they'll keep pressing the ball and they'll fearlessly push the ball down the field. Consistency, though, will be the key to the upset bid.

The Terp passing game works. For the second game in a row, Danny O'Brien was terrific on the short to midrange passes, and he did what he could to bring the team back in the second half, but he had to press. The running game was terrific, averaging 5.4 yards per carry with D.J. Adams and Davin Meggett each effective, but the defense couldn't handle the West Virginia passing game early and Maryland had to abandon the ground game, for the most part, in the comeback effort. There were too many mistakes and too many breakdowns in the secondary, and while there won't be any concerns next week against Temple's passing game, the Terps have to be able to be tighter.

(AP) COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Geno Smith threw for a career-high 388 yards, and No. 18 West Virginia withstood a furious comeback by Maryland to pull out a 37-31 victory Saturday.

After the Mountaineers (3-0) let a 24-point lead dwindle to 34-31 with 10:29 remaining, Smith directed a 14-play, 65-yard drive that produced a field goal with 4:42 left.

The Terrapins (1-1) then moved to the West Virginia 35 before Eain Smith intercepted a Danny O'Brien pass with 1:13 remaining to saddle coach Randy Edsall with his first defeat at Maryland.

Both teams used the no-huddle offense with uncanny efficiency. West Virginia finished with 480 yards and Maryland amassed 477.

Smith had 232 yards passing in the first half to help the Mountaineers take a 17-point lead. The junior then threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey on West Virginia's first possession of the third quarter to make it 34-10.

The Terrapins scored three straight touchdowns to cut the gap to 34-31, thrilling the sellout crowd of 53,627. But Maryland couldn't complete the comeback.

Smith went 36 for 49 with a touchdown, a suitable encore to a 371-yard, four TD performance against Norfolk State last week. The Mountaineers trailed 12-10 at halftime in that one, but against the Terrapins, their best half was the first.

It was the first road game for West Virginia under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen, who successfully stamped his name on a rivalry that began in 1919. The Mountaineers have won the last six.

Tavon Austin had 11 catches for 122 yards for West Virginia and Terence Garvin returned his first career interception 37 yards for a score. Austin and Garvin both played high school ball in Baltimore.

O'Brien completed 34 of 52 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown, but he threw three interceptions. Davin Meggett rushed for 113 yards and a score, but the Terrapins came up short in their effort to build on their 32-24 win over Miami in the opener.

Down 34-10, Maryland failed on a fourth-down try from the West Virginia 7. The Terps then used a touchdown run by Meggett and two by D.J. Adams to get within a field goal.

Stopping Smith, however, proved too daunting a task.

The Mountaineers got to the Maryland 37 on their first possession before Andrew Buie lost a fumble. The Terrapins then kicked a field goal at the end of a 77-yard drive fueled by a pair of 15-yard penalties.

West Virginia responded by moving 88 yards. After Smith completed six straight passes for 63 yards, Vernard Roberts ran it in from the 9.

Just over a minute later, the Mountaineers made it 14-3 on Garvin's interception return. West Virginia added a field goal after Smith scrambled out of the pocket and connected with Austin for a 47-yard gain.

O'Brien's second interception followed, this one at the West Virginia 39 by Darwin Cook. Smith lost a fumble on third down, but Maryland couldn't convert the miscue into points.

After taking over on downs, the Mountaineers zipped downfield to take a 24-3 lead. A 36-yard completion from Smith to Ivan McCartney set up a 10-yard touchdown by Buie.

Kevin Dorsey made an excellent grab in the end zone of an 18-yard pass from O'Brien to cut the gap to 24-10.

West Virginia (2-0) at Maryland (1-0) Sept. 17, 12:00, ESPNU

Here's The Deal … A nice regional rivalry might generate some national interest for a change on Saturday. The 48th meeting between the two schools promises to generate a few more interesting storylines than usual. Both programs are unbeaten, led by gifted young quarterbacks and breaking in first-year head coaches. The debut of Randy Edsall at Maryland went swimmingly with a win over Miami in front of a nationally-televised audience and a sellout crowd. The Terrapins, idle since Labor Day, are eager to get back in action and prove that the victory was unrelated to the Hurricanes' slew of suspensions.

Two games in, West Virginia is still a mystery. Yeah, it won both games, but also trailed Norfolk State at halftime a week ago. While the Mountaineers regrouped to score the game's final 45 points, head coach Dana Holgorsen recognizes that his team is a work in progress. The winner this weekend is going to leave Byrd Stadium with a much clearer outlook on the rest of its season.

Why West Virginia Might Win: The hope around Morgantown is that the second half of last week's game was the start of something big on offense. Sure, it came against an FCS visitor, but the Mountaineers were confident, crisp and potent. QB Geno Smith went 20-of-34 for 371 yards and four touchdown passes, showing an improved grasp of Holgorsen's system. He's getting the ball out quickly and spreading it around to playmakers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney. West Virginia has also begun to unleash Wake Forest transfer Devon Brown, who caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in his first start at wide receiver.

Why Maryland Might Win: While West Virginia has Smith, Maryland will counter with Danny O'Brien. One of the game's better underclassmen at quarterback, he started fast in the Miami win, throwing for 348 yards in poor weather. Unlike the Mountaineers, the Terps have faith in a ground game paced by senior Davin Meggett. With West Virginia averaging only 2.4 yards a carry, Maryland will confidently shift more resources to pass defense with impunity. Look for the athletic linebackers, Kenny Tate, Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford to stay put in order to create more traffic for Smith's field of vision.

What To Watch Out For: Maryland's biggest challenge of the weekend will be to contain the West Virginia pass rush. The Terps' concerns about pass protection will be complicated by the presence of an active line that's led by tenacious DE Bruce Miller. Someone—or two—will need to get a consistent hat on No. 11, or else he's capable of taking over the game from his side of the ball. More than any other player, O'Brien is the one player who needs to be healthy and well-supported for Maryland to achieve its goals in 2011.

What Will Happen: West Virginia just isn't quite there yet under Holgorsen, and turning the corner is less likely to happen in College Park than it would in Morgantown. It's going to happen anyway. Maryland gained a heavy dose of confidence with its win over Miami, which will have a carry-over effect in Game Two, but the Mountaineers will generate too much defensive pressure and will be too explosive offensively. It'll take a half, and then the Mountaineer O will kick in.

CFN Prediction: West Virginia 37 ... Maryland 26
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