ACC preview: Terps look to end WVU's streak

ACC preview: Terps look to end WVU's streak
September 19, 2013, 9:15 am
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Gameday preview: Maryland vs. West Virginia


No. 3 Clemson @ North Carolina State, Thurs. 7:30 p.m.
North Carolina @ Georgia Tech, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Marshall @ Virginia Tech, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Wake Forest @ Army, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Pitt @ Duke, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Tulane @ Syracuse, Sat. 12:30 p.m. on CSN
West Virginia vs. Maryland, Sat. 3:30 p.m. @ M&T Bank Stadium
VMI @ Virginia, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Bethune-Cookman @ No. 8 Florida State, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Savannah State @ No. 16 Miami, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Matchup of the week: West Virginia vs. Maryland, Sat. 3:30 p.m. @ M&T Bank Stadium

The historic rivalry will come to a head this Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium where the Terps hope to end their streak of seven straight losses to West Virginia. The Mountaineers' streak is the longest in the series, but the undefeated Terps look primed to end it in the friendly confines of Baltimore.

The Mountaineers have struggled to find any offensive consistency so far this season as they continue to try and replace quarterback Geno Smith. Paul Millard was their initial starter, but after struggling against FCS opponent William & Mary and Oklahoma, head coach Dana Holgorsen made the switch to redshirt freshman Ford Childress. Childress was very impressive in his debut throwing for 359 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia State. Whether he can put up those kinds of numbers against a defense of Maryland's caliber remains to be seen, but the secondary has to be an area of concern for the Terps as they are dealing with several injuries.

Maryland meanwhile is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2001. The team looks completely transformed from last season thanks to a healthy quarterback in C.J. Brown and the continued development of playmaker Stefon Diggs. The Terps have played extremely well to start the season, but West Virginia is by far the toughest team they will have faced to date.

The key battle will be between West Virginia's defense and Maryland's offense. The Terps are averaging 40.7 points per game and have not scored less than 30 so far this season. Though the Mountaineers are usually known for their high-flying offense, that has taken a backseat to their defense through the first three games. Having said that, the Mountaineers are still capable of putting up big numbers and the Terps may need another 30-40 point performance from their offense to walk away with a win.

Player to watch: Logan Thomas, QB, senior, Virginia Tech

After a stellar sophomore season, people saw Logan Thomas as a potential first round draft pick and a dark horse Heisman candidate. Last year, however, Thomas and Virigina Tech sputtered to a 7-6 record due largely in part to the team's ineffectiveness on offense. This year, we were not quite whether we would see the confident, strong-armed, dominant quaterback or the ineffectual, indecisive one from a year ago.

Three games in and things are not looking good.

Thomas is completing only 47% of his passes and has thrown four interceptions to go with his three touchdowns. The Hokies receivers are an inexperienced group and have dropped a lot of catchable balls, but to go 5 of 26 for 59 yards as he did against Alabama is just plain bad.

So far this season we have seen flashes of brilliance with throws right on the money, but we have also seen questionable jump balls that were easily intercepted. This week's game agaisnt Marshall is Virginia Tech's last non-conference game and it is critical for Thomas and the offense to show improvement. The Hokies managed only 15 points against East Carolina, and two of those points came off a safety. The Hokies will need a better offensive effort if they hope to beat teams like Georgia Tech and Miami.

If Thomas cannot put a solid performance together against Marshall, a team that gave up 34 points to Ohio last week, then it may be time to hit the panic button in Blacksburg.

Upset alert: Wake Forest @ Army, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

This one may not look like much of an upset, but any time a team like Army can win against a BCS conference opponent, it is a big time win. It is not something Wake Forest or the ACC wants on its resume this season, but be forewarned: these Black Knights are not the pushover we are used to seeing.

Most people prepped themselves for the beatdown of the century last week as No. 5 Stanford traveled to West Point, but Army acquitted themselves very well. A 34-20 loss to one of the best teams in the country is a very respectable outcome for a team that has not beaten a top five team since 1962.

Wake Forest better take this game seriously because if you look at their schedule, it is hard to see where the wins are going to come from for the Demon Deacons. After losses to Boston College and Louisiana Monroe, if Wake Forest were to lose this game they could very well lose out.

The Demon Deacons may have initially circled this game as a win, but Army showed they are a much better team than many anticipated. They will bring the nation's seventh ranked rushing offense against a team ranked 46th in stopping the run. The good news is that Army likely has no answer for wide receiver Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest's senior playmaker. if Army is able to keep it close, Wake Forest will rely more and more on him to pull away.

Two teams headed in opposite directions helps turn what should have been a laugher into a pretty compelling matchup.

On CSN: Tulane @ Syracuse, Sat. 12:30 p.m.

After a rough start, Syracuse finally managed its first win last week with a 54-0 romp at the expense of Wagner. Now, sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt looks poised to take over the offense with a 265 yards, three touchdown performance. After stalling under Drew Allen to start the game, Hunt reignited the offense just as he had at the tail-end of the previous week's loss to Northwestern. The Orange seem to have completely recovered from their poor start and look poised to take back the season that had already seemed lost.

The Orange will host Tulane Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Catch all the action on CSN.