Not that anyone at Maryland would admit to one game being any bigger than another. The Terrapin coaches and players are all strict adherents to the "one-game-at-a-time" mantra.
But suddenly Temple's visit to College Park on Saturday looms as the kind of game that will define the Terrapins (1-1), at least for the early part of this season.
"It's no bigger than any other game other than the fact I'm anxious to play and I wish it was Saturday right now," said quarterback Danny O'Brien on Tuesday at the team's weekly press conference.
O'Brien, the 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year, threw a career-high three interceptions last week in the 37-31 loss to 18th-ranked West Virginia.
One pick was returned for a touchdown and another, with 1:13 to play deep in WVU territory, sealed the first loss of the Randy Edsall Era at Maryland.
O'Brien still threw for 289 yards and rallied the Terrapins from 24 points down to within 34-31 in the fourth quarter, though Maryland came up short. Edsall thought O'Brien was perhaps trying to do too much.
"I think Danny's a victim of his own circumstance sometimes where he has so much confidence in his own ability that there are going to be times when he will try and throw a ball into a very small window," said Edsall. "When maybe, like I told him, sometimes an incomplete pass is the best thing that can happen."
O'Brien has been so good so fast for the Terrapins that there's not a lot of reference material to how he'll bounce back from a sub-par effort when the Owls come calling Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
His lone poor game last year was in a loss to Miami when O'Brien was 9-of-28 passing, for just 134 yards. The Terps lost that game in the last seconds, too, but O'Brien threw for 289 yards and two scores in a 42-23 rout at Virginia the following week.
Maryland's fast-paced offense relies on O'Brien -- he threw 52 times against WVU -- and they need their sophomore signal-caller back on top of his game. If not, Temple will grind out yardage on the ground against the smallish Maryland defense and keep the ball away from the Terps.
Maryland hasn't had to play that way this season. Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton's offense had 88 plays against Miami and 87 against West Virginia. Tempo will be a key versus Temple, as the Terps hope to stay above .500.
--The Terrapins are one of a handful of teams that hasn't allowed a sack this season. Maryland returned three starters up front from a year ago, and newcomers LT Max Garcia and RG Josh Cary have played well, though Edsall wants to see more push in the running game.
--RB Davin Meggett, who had 113 yards on 19 carries against WVU, has never missed a game in his career. He is the son of former New York Giants return specialist and running back, David Meggett.
--TE Matt Furstenburg's career-high seven receptions against the Mountaineers were the most by a Terps tight end since 2008 when Joey Haynos had eight grabs against WVU. Furstenburg's stock is up, a more important target with some attrition among the wide receivers.
--DT Joe Vellano has recovered two fumbles this season and his 1.0 average per game is tied for the national lead in the FBS.
--The Terps are 11th in FBS in turnover margin (+1.5 per game) and second in the ACC.
SERIES HISTORY: Maryland leads the all-time series 6-0 (last meeting, 2005, 38-7 win at Temple). This is the first of a new four-game contract between the two teams to meet through 2014.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Terrapin offense is 15th in the nation, racking up 318.5 yards per game through the air on the strength of QB Danny O'Brien's arm. Temple is 14th in the country in passing efficiency defense (92.8) and the Owls are eighth nationally with 4.0 sacks per game. The Terps haven't let O'Brien get sacked this year, so something is bound to give. With two senior receivers still suspended, O'Brien's top targets are WR Kevin Dorsey and TE Matt Furstenburg. The running game got a boost last week, too, with the return of sophomore TB D.J. Adams, a short-yardage specialist who scored two touchdowns to help resolve some red zone issues. His presence also keeps Davin Meggett, the Terps' leading rusher, fresher for four quarters.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Mountaineers had their way with Maryland in building up a 34-10 lead but then the Terps turned things around. Coach Randy Edsall said his defensive backs often had "poor technique" but improved as the game went on. The coach also thought some of his defenders were freelancing too much instead of sticking with their assignments. This means "you," Kenny Tate. Temple has another massive front line and the smallish Terps will have to have great technique and make plays to keep the Owls from just pounding the ball on the ground with tailback Bernard Pierce.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he wants to prove to people that he's not having a sophomore slump or anything like that. He's always intense and he always prepares. He's eager to prove people wrong. He wants to excel more than anybody I've ever met. He's our guy." -- Junior RT R.J. Dill on QB Danny O'Brien.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Temple at Maryland, Sept. 24 -- Temple is coming off a narrow 14-10 loss to Penn State but the bottom line is the Owls haven't beaten a BCS team this season in their 2-1 start (with wins over Villanova and Akron). Maryland's feel-good season could take a nasty turn if the Terps fall at home and go below .500. It's the Terps' fast-paced, no huddle offense, aerial attack against Temple's more traditional ground-bound style. The team with the strongest will and strongest offensive line should prevail.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Maryland, with a lot of youngsters in the front seven, must stand up to Temple's powerful running game. The Owls will lull you to sleep and go to the air so Maryland has to be wary there, too. There's a chance Maryland might have too much speed and skill on offense if QB Danny O'Brien and the unit can get back on top of their game. They had too many penalties and turnovers last week. A repeat would spell trouble.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Danny O'Brien -- The sophomore has said he can't wait for Saturday to get the three-interception game against WVU out of his memory banks. Temple has done a good job rushing the passer but if they have to blitz to create pressure, look for O'Brien to have a big day.
RT R.J. Dill -- The 6-7, 300-pound Dill may draw the assignment on Temple DE Adrian Robinson, who gave Penn State fits last week. This match-up could dictate much of how the game is played. If QB Danny O'Brien has time, he could shred the Owls. If not, advantage Temple.
MLB Demetrius Hartsfield -- Hartsfield's 8.0 tackles per game is fourth on the team behind hybrid DB/LB Kenny Tate and two safeties. The Owls are likely to come right up the gut at Hartsfield so he needs to have a big day, and get those safeties off the top of the tackle charts.
WR/PR Tony Logan -- The shifty Logan hasn't broken a punt return yet this season but he did have a 22-yard gain on a nifty pass play designed to get him into space against WVU. He can make the kind of big play to break open a tight game.
--DE Alvin Thomas played well in practice, earned a spot on the kickoff unit, and has now moved to second on the depth chart behind David Mackall, with his solid play in practice. Thomas is a junior transfer from Albright College.
--WRs Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree are still suspended indefinitely for their participation in an altercation outside a 7-11 store last Wednesday. "I have a plan in my mind," said coach Randy Edsall of their eventual return. "I hope that their actions and how they handle themselves in this time period will allow me to go forth with the plan."