2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11, Maryland vs. Notre Dame
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Nov. 12 Notre Dame 45 … Maryland 21
CFN Analysis: Notre Dame is able to blow away bad teams without a problem. Wake Forest wasn’t a bad team, needing to fight to get through last week’s game, but dominating Maryland this week. Tommy Rees was as sharp as he’s been all season long, completing 30-of-38 passes for 296 yards and two scores, and Jonas Gray tore off 136 yards and two scores. The Irish offense did whatever it wanted. … Rees spread the ball around well and kept the chains moving without any problems in one of the team’s most complete offensive performances. … No turnovers. The Irish didn’t give the Terps any chances to get into the game. … With the layup against Boston College up next, the team will take a four-game winning streak into the Stanford games. If the offense can be as balanced as it was this week, and if Rees can stay mistake-free, helped by a line that’s keeping him clean, the Irish can beat the Cardinal.
Maryland keeps sinking lower. Notre Dame is a real, live, good team, but the defense is getting worse. The pass defense hasn’t been too bad this year, but Tommy Rees picked the secondary clean and the Irish ground game pounded away doing whatever it wanted against a run defense that allows 233 yards per game. … Danny O’Brien completed 14-of-21 passes for 132 yards, but he threw a pick six that made the blowout truly ugly midway through the third quarter. … C.J. Brown provided a little bit of a spark, running for a 24-yard touchdown and completing 6-of-10 passes, but the game was already out of hand. … With two games left against Wake Forest and NC State, all that matters is figuring out who can play and who to work around next year. Randy Edsall isn’t having any luck with the running game that should be far better, but the bigger problem is a defense that’s failing to make any key stops.
(AP) LANDOVER, Md. -- Notre Dame's no-huddle offense created more than enough feel-good moments for the Fighting Irish and their "hometown" crowd.
Jonas Gray ran for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns, Tommy Rees threw for 296 yards and two scores, and Notre Dame cruised to a 45-21 victory over skidding Maryland on Saturday night.
Rees completed 30 of 38 passes, including 14 of 15 after halftime. The Irish (7-3) amassed 508 yards in offense and ran an astonishing 84 plays.
"We wanted to go with a hurry-up tempo offense," Rees said. "Throughout the game they were getting tired with our tempo."
The Irish have made a habit of playing one "home" game a year at a neutral site. Although this one was held at a stadium only 12 miles from the Maryland campus, both end zones read "NOTRE DAME" and most fans in the crowd of 70,251 at FedEx Field were pulling for the Irish.
They were not disappointed. Notre Dame led 7-0 after four minutes, 24-7 at halftime and 38-7 midway through the third quarter.
Gray led the charge, running for 84 yards and a pair of 1-yard touchdowns in the first half.
"Getting off to a good start is running the football," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "Jonas Gray is what we've all been talking about in a consistent performer. I thought he was capable of this before the season."
Asked if it felt like a road game, Kelly said, "No, it was really loud coming in. It was an enjoyable atmosphere. We really loved being here. I know our players were excited when they got out on the field and heard the crowd and the action that in the stadium."
Maryland (2-8) dropped its sixth straight and also lost starting quarterback Danny O'Brien, who broke a bone in his left arm and is out for the season.
"He's not going to be back ready to play, I know that," coach Randy Edsall said.
The right-hander was replaced by C.J. Brown, who ran 24 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cap a 97-yard drive.
Both teams were dressed for success. Notre Dame wore green jerseys and affixed large shamrocks onto their gold helmets, and Maryland pulled out its garish "Pride" uniforms -- a white, red, black and yellow salute to the state flag. The Terrapins last wore the ensemble in the opener against Miami, a 32-24 win that remains their lone victory over an FBS team this season.
After Gray dictated the action in the first half, Rees went 8 for 8 on an 84-yard drive to open the third quarter. The march, which was kept alive by Gray's 19-yard scamper on a third-and-17, ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Cierre Wood (who finished with 99 yards rushing).
Minutes later, Lo Wood returned an interception 57 yards for a score to make it 38-7.
O'Brien returned for one play after the pick and left after being tackled hard on a 5-yard run. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Brown went 6 for 10 for 87 yards and ran three times for 31 yards.
"C.J. played well when he came in," Edsall said.
A week ago, Notre Dame needed a second-half comeback to beat Wake Forest. In this one, the Irish took control early.
After holding Maryland without a first down on the opening possession, Notre Dame cruised 67 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead. Gray ran four times for 32 yards, including a touchdown that extended his streak of games with a rushing TD to seven -- most by a Notre Dame player since 1998.
Late in the quarter, David Ruffer kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal to cap an 11-play drive and put the Irish up 10-0.
In the second quarter, Notre Dame gave up its first sack in five games and 195 passing attempts. That possession ended in a punt, but the Irish quickly got the ball back and went ahead 17-0 on a 19-yard pass from Rees to Michael Floyd, whose 36th career touchdown tied him for third place on the school's career list behind only Allen Pinkett (53) and Autry Denson (47).
Held to three first downs on its first five possessions, Maryland finally got its offense clicking behind O'Brien, who went 5 for 5 on a 61-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Quintin McCree.
Notre Dame promptly restored the 17-point margin with a 13-play drive that ended with a touchdown run by Gray on a fourth-down play.
The Irish padded the margin soon after halftime. Notre Dame has outscored the opposition 77-13 in the third quarter this year.
Notre Dame (6-3) vs. Maryland (2-7) Nov. 12, 7:30, NBC
Here’s The Deal … Notre Dame and Maryland will meet for just the second time ever, a neutral field contest to be held at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. For the Irish, it’ll be their second consecutive game in ACC country, having travelled last weekend to Winston-Salem for a 24-17 escape of Wake Forest. Although the school has won six of its last seven games, and is inching closer to the Top 25, it hasn’t delivered a head-turning win since the Sept. 17 rout of Michigan State.
In fact, ND won’t have a chance to make a splash again until it visits Stanford in the regular season finale. While the Irish reached their low point in the opener, the first weekend represented Maryland’s 2011 peak. Since knocking off Miami on Labor Day night, the Terrapins have circled the drain for two months, beating only Towson over the last eight weeks. For rookie head coach Randy Edsall, he’ll use the final three weeks of the regular season to take stock of his roster, and attempt to build a bridge to spring ball.
Why Notre Dame Might Win: In Maryland, the Irish are getting an opponent that can’t score, and is having all kinds of problems making stops on defense. Notre Dame will make it hurt on both accounts. The 116th-ranked Terps run D will get a steady diet of Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray, the gifted backs who’ve combined for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. When they’re not eating up big chunks of yardage between the tackles, QB Tommy Rees will be connecting with WR Michael Floyd or TE Tyler Eifert. The hapless Maryland offense will get no breaks from LB Manti Te’o or the rest of an Irish defense that’s giving up only 20 points a game.
Why Maryland Might Win: If the Terps have a chance—any chance—of snapping their five-game skid, they’ll need to dominate turnover margin. The program has been a solid +7 in the category so far this fall, while Notre Dame is tied for last nationally with Fresno State and East Carolina. Although the Maryland defense has given up far too many points and big plays, it has somewhat compensated with drive-ending picks and fumble recoveries. Underrated corners Cameron Chism and Dexter McDougle have both intercepted a team-high three passes, while Star Darin Drakeford has made his mark this fall with three forced fumbles.
What To Watch Out For: The Irish ought to be able to take advantage of Maryland’s disastrous situation at quarterback. Incumbent Danny O’Brien and athletic C.J. Brown have been terrible as passers, throwing 11 combined touchdowns and 13 interception for a team that ranks 114th in the country in passing efficiency. While Notre Dame has been spotty at times in coverage, neither Denard Robinson nor Matt Barkley will be in Landover on this night. Might Edsall be a part of the problem? Other than Dan Orlovsky, he never had success with quarterbacks at Connecticut, and now O’Brien is slumping as a sophomore.
What Will Happen: Motivation aside, Notre Dame won’t have many hurdles to an easy victory on Saturday night. Maryland stopped playing with much fight after moral victories against Georgia Tech and Clemson, losing feebly in its last two games with Boston College and Virginia. Think Duke, with garish uniforms. The Irish will jump out early behind the running game, burying the Terrapins before halftime. Much like the last two games with the service academies, ND will be able to go to its backups at some point in the second half.
CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 37 … Maryland 10
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Notre Dame -20.5 O/U: 56.5
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