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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
Virginia (2-3) at Maryland (2-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 17th, 4:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Byrd Stadium (48,055) -- College Park, Maryland. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Virginia 1-2, Maryland 2-2. Away Record: Virginia 1-1, Maryland 0-2. Neutral Record: Virginia 0-0, Maryland 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia 1-0, Maryland 1-1. Series Record: Maryland leads, 41-30-2.
GAME NOTES: The suddenly surging Virginia Cavaliers are back on the road this weekend, as they are set to tangle with the Maryland Terrapins in an Atlantic Coast Conference clash at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
Virginia opened its season with three straight losses to William & Mary, TCU and Southern Miss. But the Cavaliers have rebounded in the past couple of weeks to post consecutive victories at North Carolina (16-3) and at home last weekend against Indiana (47-7). A win this weekend would even the Cavs' record at 3-3 with home games on tap in three of the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, Maryland is coming off a 42-32 loss at Wake Forest. The Terrapins have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball, and their 2-4 record is a reflection of that. However, they are celebrating Homecoming this week, and their last home game was a three-point win over Clemson two weeks ago.
Maryland holds a 41-30-2 edge in the all-time series, although UVA has won the last two meetings.
The Cavaliers' offense had been waiting for a breakout game. And last week against Indiana, they finally got it as they racked up 536 total yards and put 47 points on the board. In fact, it marked the first time in five years the Cavs eclipsed 500 total yards. The offensive outburst takes on more significance when you consider that Virginia entered the game ranked 117th in the nation in total offense. Mikell Simpson carried 15 times for 83 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in the win, while Jameel Sewell completed 20- of-30 passes for 308 yards and a score. Converted defensive back Vic Hall finished with six catches for 85 yards, including his first career touchdown reception. Hall spent his first three seasons at corner, then switched to quarterback to start the season, before finally settling at the receiver position.
Virginia junior cornerback Ras-I Dowling had a huge day in the blowout win over Indiana. Dowling set up a pair of touchdowns for the Cavs with an interception and a forced fumble. He also led the team with nine tackles (seven solo) and notched a sack. It was tough to find many faults on the defensive side of the ball last week. The Cavaliers were pitching a shutout until the Hoosiers finally got on the board midway through the fourth quarter, which was set up by a long kick return that got the Indiana into Virginia territory. IU quarterback Ben Chappell attempted 33 passes but managed just 190 yards against a stout Cavaliers' secondary. The Hoosiers didn't convert a third down until the third quarter, as they finished with just 272 total yards. UVA currently ranks fourth in the ACC in both total defense (295.8 ypg) and scoring defense (20.6 ppg).
In terms of field position, the Maryland offense has gotten a major boost from return man Torrey Smith. Last season, Smith set the ACC single-season record for kick return yards (1,089). Against Wake Forest last week, Smith returned his first kick 85 yards to the Demon Deacons' 15, and he went on to pile up 267 all-purpose yards. He enters this contest leading the nation in all- purpose yards (236.7 ypg) and is coming off a career-high 10 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Adrian Cannon caught two touchdown passes on the day, but the Terps simply weren't able to match Wake in what turned out to be a shootout. Chris Turner completed 24-of-44 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw an interception and was sacked four times. Maryland wasn't able to get much going on the ground, averaging just 2.1 ypc as a team.
Wake Forest merely became the latest team to exploit a porous Maryland defense. The Terps rank 102nd in the nation in total defense (406.3 ypg) and 114th in scoring defense (36 ppg). They had no answer for the Demon Deacons, who kept the chains moving by converting 9-of-15 third downs and went on to amass 516 yards of total offense. Wake quarterback Riley Skinner had ample time to operate in the pocket, as he threw for 360 yards and four TDs. Alex Wujciak (11 tackles) and Anthony Wiseman (seven tackles) led Maryland's defensive stance. Wujciak is the nation's active leader in career tackles-per- game (10.3), and he currently heads the ACC in tackles so far this season. Unfortunately for the Terps, Wujciak has been somewhat of a one-man wrecking crew.
The Cavaliers hope their offensive success carries over from last week. Playing against a leaky defense such as Maryland's, they should be able to move the ball once again. But the Terps won't be a pushover playing at Byrd Stadium, and this one could come down to a few key plays on special teams -- cue return man Smith.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maryland 27, Virginia 19
10/14 10:41:46 ET