Week 11 - Maryland at Clemson

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview - Maryland at Clemson

Maryland (4-5) at Clemson (8-1) Nov. 10, 3:30, ESPNU

Here's The Deal: Just keep winning. Clemson has a simple directive as it pertains to their postseason destiny.

The Tigers need one more slip-up from Florida State in order to move into the ACC Atlantic pole position, but they're running out of chances. If the ‘Noles don't lose one of the next two games to Virginia Tech or Maryland, Clemson will be out of the divisional hunt. But an at-large BCS bowl berth will be very much in play if it can sweep its remaining games, all of which will be staged in Death Valley.

The feel-good story in College Park has taken a turn for the worse. Maryland, which briefly led the Atlantic, has dropped three in a row, weighed down by an onslaught of injuries on offense. Second-year head coach Randy Edsall has actually done a remarkable job of keeping the Terps afloat, but the program is beginning to take in too much water, and that dream of the postseason is dissipating at a rapid pace.

Why Maryland Might Win: This is the best defense that Clemson has faced since the Florida State game on Sept. 22.

The Maryland D has persevered all year, despite being on the field longer than it should. Physical at the point of attack and experienced, the unit ranks 11th nationally, and is second in the ACC to only the Seminoles. The underrated Terrapins form a brick wall in the front seven, challenging an average Clemson O-line with ends Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis and linebackers Cole Farrand and Darin Drakeford. The Tigers are going to move the ball, but they'll have to fight for everything they get on Saturday afternoon.

Why Clemson Might Win: Few teams possess the pop to run with Clemson. Maryland sure isn't one of them.

The Tigers are averaging almost 43 points a game, fueled by one of the most balanced and quick-hitting attacks in America. Sure, the Terps might hold them below their norm, but how many points will it take to outscore Maryland? No one has had worse luck at quarterback than the Terrapins, which ranks 119th nationally in total offense. An attack led by former fourth-stringer Shawn Petty will have no chance against the firepower of a system spearheaded by QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington and the receiving tandem of DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.

What To Watch Out For: Clemson is finally seeing some life from its pass rush, thanks in large part to the play of DE Vic Beasley. A situational player, with freakish athletic ability, he leads the Tigers with five sacks. Think Bruce Irvin, who starred at West Virginia and is now with the Seattle Seahawks. Petty is going to face enough hurdles on the road this weekend. If Beasley is allowed to run free, the quarterback might complete more passes to Clemson defenders than his own teammates.

What Will Happen: The days of Maryland putting a scare into bigger programs are over in 2012. The program has endured too many body blows to remain a serious threat.

Clemson will continue to cruise, though it will have to guard against complacency this week. Ellington is banged up, which might create a few extra touches for backup RB Roderick McDowell. Whatever the strategy is on offense, the Tigers know that they'll have sewn win No. 9 once they reach 20 points. They'll build an early lead, manage the Maryland offense and empty the bench in the final quarter.

CFN Prediction: Clemson 48 … Maryland 10
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Clemson -31.5 O/U: 55
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 2.5