My last post on weeks one through four is here, so I’ll continue with five through eight. This stretch is going to be very telling for the Terrapins. Two games against powerhouse opponents in Florida State and Clemson, but wedged in between those are two winnable games on the road. If Maryland can come out 2-2 during this stretch, you have to consider it a success. Then again, there’s a good chance they could easily go 0-4 here and virtually damn their season.
Week Five: Maryland at Florida State (11-2 last season)
Florida State is similar to West Virginia in that, if there were ever a year Maryland could beat Florida State, it’s 2013. The departure of first round quarterback E.J. Manuel, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer in a kicker, and three first round talented defensive players means that the Seminoles are theoretically in a rebuilding year
Except that not all rebuildings are created equally. Rebuilding at Florida State is like getting a new paint job on a Ferrari; with or without the new coat, it’s still going to smoke your car off the line. “Your car” being a 90′s Honda CRX with a spotty service record. Florida State recruits better than most teams in the nation, and expecting them to be much worse than an eight or nine win team is unreasonable. So will one of those losses come against Maryland?
1.) It’s an away game at Doak Campbell. Maryland has never won there before (though we got close in 2009 with a 29-26 loss.)
2.) It’s against Florida State: the Terps currently hold a 2-21 record against Florida State which is about right for most every team they play. The silver lining? The Terps have beaten them twice in the last nine years? I guess there’s that.
3.) Devonta Freeman. Devonta completely dismantled the Terrapins last year, rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns in College Park. If he’s on the field, the Terrapins are going to have a real tough time stopping him.
In short, Maryland is going to lose in week five.
Week Six: Virginia (4-8 last season) at Maryland
Virginia is probably more than a little pissy about having dropped their homecoming game to the Terrapins last year. A quarterback switch from Phillip Sims to senior Michael Rocco midway through the game wasn’t enough to stave off Stefon Diggs and the Terps.
Speaking of that quarterback controversy, what is UVa without one? This year, it’s between Phillip Sims, the Alabama transfer who was supposed to be Matt Schaub reincarnate, sophomore David Watford, who plays more like a running back, and redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert, the highly touted recruit who received offers from Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson.
It doesn’t speak well for their passing game that Watford is the starter post-spring, but their running game will be fully loaded with Kevin Parks (129 yards last year against Maryland) taking most of the carries. Parks is a fantastic runner in open space, but he does need a mildly competent passing game to go with him. I’m not sure UVa has any clue who to hand the position to, since everyone has been unimpressive.
Their defense has upper classmen at virtually every position, and should be improved from last year’s squad that was essentially a regrouping year. Still, I think Maryland wins this one at home, because UVa doesn’t have much of a QB and their receivers aren’t good enough to completely alter games (though admittedly local WR Darius Jennings has some talent.) Terps win.
Week Seven: Maryland at Wake Forest (5-7 last season)
At this point with Wake Forest, whatever prediction you make involves slinging things against a wall and seeing what sticks. The Deacons were one of the most boring teams in college football last year, regardless of how good their stud receiver Michael Campanaro performed. Seven of their twelve games never got past 14 points scored, and their final three games they gave up 130 total points.
Now to be fair, those two statistics both apply to Maryland (we gave up 131 over the last three games), but the difference is that we started a freaking linebacker at quarterback; Wake Forest had a junior QB who threw 20 touchdowns the year prior. So when we try to gauge Wake, do we go by their recent trend of not being bowl eligible for three of the past four seasons? Or do we suggest that Jim Grobe is going to lead them to a bounce back year and get them to the golden years again?
The former is more likely, in my opinion. Their spring game was a clue into what to expect: they have now switched to a read-option offense, ran about five plays to poor execution, and scored three total points. Their offense is an absolute mess this year, and unless their defense (which should be pretty stout) provides herculean efforts every night, it’s going to be a bad season for Wake.
The Terps take this one, even if it’s on the road.
Week Eight: Clemson (11-2 last season) at Maryland
I’m no psychic, but I’m going to predict that right around week eight the luster of whatever performances Maryland football displayed until this point, will wear off. Clemson is a dangerous machine right now on offense, and that’s really all that matters.
They have two Heisman candidates in Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins, who are capable of dismantling defenses easier than I could take apart Legos as a kid. Even with the loss of Nuke (who has now taken to rubbing poop all over hotel rooms) and Andre Ellington at running back, they’re still going to score a ton of points with the depth of talent they have at every position. They also return every starter from an already good offensive line. Not good things for opponents.
Maryland won’t be able to hang with that, even though they can occasionally give Clemson trouble. At this point, the Terps are highly unlikely to win this game, barring some kind of Rocky vs Ivan Drago performance.