Fearless Picks - Maryland

Week three - and most predictors have on their game faces for the Terps.

Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 24-9
Taking a defensive posture, it should be pointed out that while some people tend to focus on Kevin's continued spinelessness when it comes to picking games, everyone simply skips over Matt Keller's fraudulent claim of a pick championship from the prior season, merely due to Kevin choosing Rutgers over West Virginia for this prognosticator while he was in Disney with his family, a trip originally scheduled to coincide with the Central Florida game, but hurricaned out. [Editor's Note: Kevin and his family went to Florida for the UCF game, and had a great time at Disney. Hmmmmm.]

So keeping with the defensive train of thought, it will be the West Virginia defense that does the trick this week. The Mountaineers enter the game surrendering a paltry seven points per game, and scoring 25 as the offense continues to gain experience. The Maryland offense averages 23.5 points and 385 yards per game. Did I mention that the WVU defense leads the nation in yards allowed per game?

Andy Easton Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 21-20
If this game were being played in Morgantown, WVU would win by a touchdown but with the game at College Park, this one is a toss up. The Mountaineers have not won in Byrd Staidum since 1997, and under Coach Friedgen the Terrapins have outscored WVU 66-27 at home. If the Blue and Gold can avoid turnovers and can recover a Maryland fumble or two, the Mountaineers should come out on top.
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 17-10
It's Maryland week. No jokes, no anecdotes, all business in this prediction.

The Mountaineer defense is good...really good. Are they number one in the nation? That's not for me to say. What they are is very deep. Being very deep in a close game helps because the players can stay fresh. The Maryland offense hasn't quite gotten its act together, and you can bet that they haven't seen a defense as good as the Blue and Gold's. Not a good set of ingredients for a coming out party if you ask me.

If the Mountaineer offense can hold onto the ball in the red zone, they won't need to score a whole lot of points to win. I think the defense will hold Maryland to 10-14 points, and set the Mountaineer offense up for 3-7 points. That means the offense will only have to score 7-10 points on their own, and I have all the confidence in the world that they can do that.

Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 17-13
This game has the makings of another defensive battle, much like last year's. It's probably not wise to predict this young WVU squad can win in a place many more veteran groups couldn't, but I think the matchups fall in WVU's favor...barely.
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 20-17
First I would like to start a public inquisition into Matt Keller's allegiances.

In week one Keller picked against the Mountaineers against a Syracuse team that has a middle school offense at best. Then, in week two, Keller went with WVU over Wofford, but he picked the contest against the 1-AA squad to be a close game. Let's find out what has happened. My feeling is that some of that Pitt oil has rubbed off on Keller during his time in the 'Burgh.

Anyway, as hard as I try, I cannot be like Keller. I am confident that the men in gold and blue will get it done this week and move to 3-0 on the season. That prediction comes a little easier knowing that Maryland has done little to improve it team that finished 5-6 in 2004.

The Terps' quarterback has been efficient, but he is not the type of guy that can beat a team on his own, and the same can be said for the rest of the Terrapin squad. This will be a close one and could possibly include some early Mountaineer mistakes. In the end, though, a Pat McAfee field goal will be the difference. Sorry Keller, your loss will have to wait another week.

Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 17-10
Maryland is always a tough opponent and this year will be no different. Byrd Stadium can be a hostile environment, although for most of the several games I've attended there, WVU brings as many fans as the home team, if not more. There's nothing quite like a visit to Byrd Stadium to make you appreciate the facilities we have in Morgantown, not to mention how much Maryland's band always helps you fully appreciate The Pride. But I digress. Last year's overtime win in Morgantown dissolved whatever hex Friedgren had put on RRod. The defense will put on a show that has the Mountaineer Faithful dancing in their seats and shuts up the pro-ACC TV commentators. Thunder, Lightning, and Whitnarik add the finishing touches that will slam the Fridge door shut.
Chuck McGill Last Week: W Season 2-0 Pick: WVU 20-17
Mark Schlabach: Maryland. West Virginia is awful. Did you watch that Syracuse game? I've seen better Pee Wee football games."

It's Matt Keller is disguise!

Tsk, tsk, Mr. Schlabach. I'm not ready to declare to Mountaineers the best defensive team in the country, because Syracuse and Wofford really didn't present much of a challenge to Addae, Lorello and Co. But awful? Seriously?

WVU hasn't won at Maryland since I was in high school, which unfortunately for me, is a long time ago. But something just feels different this time. This team has all the intangibles to win a physical road game against an always talented and prepared team. Will they do it?

Maryland hasn't been overwhelming in either of its first two contests, one of which was a home loss. This isn't impossible. WVU nearly came away with a victory four years ago had Avon Cobourne not stumbled in the open field. This Mountaineer team is a lot better. The defense plays physical, is full of superb tacklers and plays as a cohesive unit. The offense - while lacking a true deep threat - has plenty of playmakers, including two rapidly maturing signal callers. Special teams looks good, the coaching has been worthy of heaping praise and there are no significant injuries to this point.

Can the Gold and Blue keep it going?

I guess Mr. Schlabach, myself and the rest of the country will know a little bit more about West Virginia by 4 p.m. Saturday. Methinks Schlabach will be the most surprised.

Matt Keller Last Week: W Season 1-1 Pick: UM 24-20
Maryland outplayed West Virginia in the last five years for a myriad of reasons. One ignored aspect is that the Terrapins simply had better talent. With E.J. Henderson and fleet-footed athletes at most positions, UM had a speed and skill advantage in its four touchdown routs.

West Virginia has turned that talent edge, and now possesses better ability and more power and speed, especially defensively. Whether that translates to a second consecutive win in the 43-game series will depend upon WVU getting the match-ups it wants.

Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen has excelled in gaining that edge in the past. He'll need all the NFL experience and coaching cockiness he possesses to do so this time. And Maryland's scheme -- crossing patterns, tough running and quick pitches to tight ends in the flat -- is the antitheses of what the Mountaineers defend well against, namely teams like Miami who run very little misdirection and are too impatient to nickel and dime it down the field.

Friedgen has never been that sort. Couple that with the Byrd Stadium advantage and WVU's tendency to be psychologically taken out of this game should it get down 10-plus points, and the Terps again top the Mountaineers.

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