Week 7 - Maryland at Virginia

Posted Oct 12, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions - Maryland at Virginia

Maryland (3-2) at Virginia (2-4) Oct. 13, 3:00, RSN

Here's The Deal: The leader of the ACC's Atlantic Division isn't Florida State, nor is it Clemson. It's Maryland. Sure, the current standings aren't likely to last very long, but they are an indication of the work being done by Randy Edsall in College Park. The coach has employed a slew of young players, especially on offense, and gradually transformed them into a more competitive product on the field. The Terrapins surpassed have already surpassed their 2011 win total with last weekend's comeback victory over Wake Forest. Virginia, to the contrary, is mired in a tailspin. The Cavaliers have lost four straight games, highlighted by last Saturday's 42-17 rout at the hands of Duke. They've regressed in all phases of the game, leaving Mike London in a position to balance giving more playing time to his heralded rookies without surrendering in the quest to qualify for a postseason game.

Why Maryland Might Win: Edsall's veteran defense has been stout all year, ranking seventh nationally in both run defense and total defense. Heck, the Terps are the only team this season to hold high-powered West Virginia under 40 points. Maryland is a surly bunch, with punishing hitters at every level. A Virginia offense that cannot protect the ball is going to have a rugged time with the likes of DE Joe Vellano, LB Demetrius Hartsfield and LB Kenny Tate. Maryland is yielding a mere 4.1 yards per play, which is lower than all but seven programs in the country.

Why Virginia Might Win: Moving the ball on Maryland is going to be brutal, so it's a good thing that the Cavs won't have to score too many points to stop the bleeding. The Terps are young and wildly inconsistent on offense, pulling up the ACC rear in both scoring and total yards. Operating as if their own D is on the other side of the ball, they're averaging just 2.2 yards a carry. A battered Virginia defense will delight at the sight of a sputtering attack, turning loose experienced linebackers Steve Greer, Henry Coley and LaRoy Reynolds in an attempt to unnerve rookie QB Perry Hills. Hills is getting there, but still makes a lot of mistakes that Maryland can cash into points.

What To Watch: Out For: The Virginia pass defense has been nothing short of futile this fall, allowing 13 touchdown passes and picking off just one. The secondary got burned for four scoring strikes last week by Duke's backup QB Anthony Boone. Although Hills is still young and raw, the game is beginning to slow down for him. And he is growing up alongside a pair of talented underclassmen, receivers Stefon Diggs and Marcus Leak. The pair is showing a tendency for getting behind defensive backs, turning 31 combined grabs into 595 yards and five scores.

What Will Happen: For Edsall, this is the biggest game of his career so far at Maryland. With a win, especially on the road, his team can seriously start dreaming of a program-elevating bowl game. It won't be easy for such an inexperienced group, but the Terps are learning how to win close contests, and did beat Temple in Philadelphia in Week 2. Plus, Virginia is playing as if it has neither a clue nor much motivation at this stage of the season. Maryland will scrap and claw and defend until it gets out of Charlottesville with a hard-fought nail-biter of a win.

CFN Prediction:: Maryland 23 … Virginia 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Virginia -2.5 O/U: 46.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 2