Week 13 - Maryland at North Carolina

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Maryland at North Carolina

Maryland (4-7) at North Carolina (7-4) Nov. 24, 3:00, RSN

Here’s The Deal: Maryland and North Carolina will close out the season at Kenan Memorial Stadium, both looking to get a head start on 2013.

The Tar Heels were a poor-man’s Ohio State this fall, flashing potential and growth despite being ineligible for the postseason and breaking in a new head coach. Larry Fedora and his staff have done well to keep the players motivated throughout 2012, going 6-2 over the last eight games. Heck, Carolina can’t play for the ACC championship, but will cop a share of the Coastal Division with a victory on Saturday.

The Terrapins ran out of steam, and frankly healthy bodies, weeks ago. Head coach Randy Edsall and his assistants did about all they could this season, but after three fallen quarterbacks forced a linebacker behind center, all of the hustle, perseverance and duct tape couldn’t keep this team in one piece. Losers of five straight, Maryland’s biggest headlines of late came from the recent courtship to become a member of the Big Ten.

Why Maryland Might Win: There’s still enough talent on defense for the Terps to make a stand.

The offense has been gutted, but the D has been relatively unscathed this season. Yeah, losing star LB Demetrius Hartsfield was a blow, but a load of veteran talent remains in College Park. The seniors, DE Joe Vellano, DE A.J. Francis, LB Kenneth Tate, LB Drain Drakeford and S Eric Franklin, will be looking to make a statement in the final game of their college career, both to younger teammates and to pro scouts.

Why North Carolina Might Win: Maryland can be feisty on defense, but it might need to hold Carolina below 13 points to deliver the upset.

The Terrapins are operating on fumes offensively, with former LB Shawn Petty essentially running a one-dimensional attack. Maryland has no pop through the air, and is averaging only 18 points a game. The Tar Heels should be able to hit that number in the first half, especially if the Terps are careless with the ball. Carolina boasts the best offense in the ACC this side of Death Valley, balancing out the attack with the running of Giovani Bernard and the passing of Bryn Renner. Rookie Quinshad Davis looks like he’ll be the next playmaking receiver in Chapel Hill, catching 29 passes over the last three games.

What To Watch Out For: Maryland, which now starts a couple of freshmen up front, is getting whipped at the line of scrimmage. That trend is going to continue against the talented front seven of Carolina. The Heels are littered with next-level defenders, such as DT Sylvester Williams, DE Kareem Martin and LB Kevin Reddick, each of whom will revel in one final opportunity to impress NFL personnel people. While Petty won’t drop back to throw often, he will absorb contact shortly after taking off on designed runs.

What Will Happen: North Carolina is determined to finish what it started this season by wrapping up a share of the Coastal Division. The team will be home in December, but Fedora will have a rallying cry to take into next spring. Saturday will be all about focus. If the Heels possess it, they’ll have few problems outscoring a Maryland team that hasn’t been competitive in weeks. Renner and Bernard will stake Carolina to a comfortable lead that the Terrapins will never be able to bring below double-digits.

CFN Prediction: North Carolina 38 … Maryland 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) North Carolina -24.5 O/U: 54
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2