Week 4 - Maryland at West Virginia

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Maryland at West Virginia

Maryland (2-1) at West Virginia (2-0) Sept. 22, 12:00, FX

Here's The Deal: Long-time interstate rivals Maryland and West Virginia are set to renew acquaintances for the 49th time. The Mountaineers haven't faced an opponent of substance yet, routing Marshall and James Madison, yet have risen to No. 8 in the most recent AP poll. This is a crucial week, though, for the program and second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen. For West Virginia, this is its final tune-up before Big 12 play begins with a visit from Baylor. The Terrapins suffered their first loss of 2012, a tough three-pointer to Connecticut, but have still played above forecasts by getting to 2-1. Randy Edsall's youthful roster will struggle to manufacture the six games needed to become bowl-eligible. However, if Maryland can mature as the season progresses, and set the table for 2013, the current campaign might be dubbed a success regardless of the final mark. Of course, Edsall isn't exactly on solid footing, and would benefit from an upset or two along the way.

Why Maryland Might Win: Few teams will actually stop the Mountaineers offense this fall. The Terps, though, are constructed to slow it down. Maryland ranks No. 8 nationally in total defense, allowing less than four yards a play. It's been tough at the point of attack, a trend that'll continue against a West Virginia O-line in transition. Having faced two poor defenses, the ‘eers could get a shock to the system when locking horns with DT Joe Vellano and linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford. Opponents are completing less than 50% of their passes on the Terps, the by-product of good coverage and adequate pressure up front.

Why West Virginia Might Win: With Geno Smith in the cockpit, the Mountaineers passing game is soaring. And it won't take another five-touchdown performance to outgun the mealy Maryland offense. The Terps are helmed by true freshman QB Perry Hills, who's surrounded by more youth, and is still in the embryonic stages of his development. Hills & Co. will find it impossible to keep pace with a point-a-minute attack that can really spread the field with wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Maryland is 119th nationally in total offense, or nearly polar opposite of where West Virginia currently stands.

What To Watch Out For: The play of the West Virginia defense may not be a huge factor this weekend, but it will be a week from now. The Mountaineers know they have to improve in order to compete in a new league that's flush with quality quarterbacks and receivers. LB Isaiah Bruce is one defender in blue and gold, who has stepped up in the first two games, especially as starter Jewone Snow rehabs an injury. The redshirt freshman has led the team in tackles in both games, even scoring a touchdown in the opener. His education goes into overdrive once Baylor visits in a week.

What Will Happen: West Virginia wants to send a message to the Big 12. Maryland will suffer the harshest consequences. The Terps D is good, but not nearly talented enough to slow down Smith and his artillery of offensive weapons. The Mountaineers will pounce on their visitors in the first few drives, jumping out to a comfortable lead that Hills won't be able to narrow. In fact, the young quarterback will make things worse by turning the ball over and taking sacks in a frenetic attempt to play catch-up.

CFN Prediction: West Virginia 44 … Maryland 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) West Virginia -27; O/U: 61.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 2.5