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Connecticut (1-1) at Maryland (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 12:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Byrd Stadium (54,000) -- College Park, Maryland. Television: ACC Network and ESPN3.com. Home Record: UConn 1-1, Maryland 1-0. Away Record: UConn 0-0, Maryland1-0. Neutral Record: UConn 0-0, Maryland 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 0-0, Maryland 0-0. Series Record: Maryland leads 1-0.
GAME NOTES: For the second straight week the Connecticut Huskies will play a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, this time on the road, when they head to Byrd Stadium to take on the undefeated Maryland Terrapins.
After posting a 37-0 win over Massachusetts in its season opener, Connecticut really struggled to get anything going offensively and subsequently dropped game two of the season in a 10-7 defensive struggle with NC State. UConn didn't even manage to score until the fourth quarter when Lyle McCombs posted a five-yard touchdown run. The failure to score at all in the first half was the first time that has happened to the Huskies since 2010.
Maryland on the other hand went in the opposite direction, posting a 36-27 win on the road over Temple after a 7-point performance, also in a win, against William and Mary in week one. The majority of the scoring came in the second quarter, when the Terps racked up 23 points to take a 26-3 lead into the locker room. At 2-0 Maryland has now matched its win total for the entire 2011 campaign.
It has been quite awhile since these two teams have squared off with the one and only meeting occurring in 1942. That game, which was also in College Park, ended in a 34-0 rout in favor of the Terps.
It was a brutal day for the Connecticut offense in the squad's loss to NC State. Aside from only scoring seven points on the day, the Huskies also only accumulated 239 total yards of offense, the majority of which came through the air (204). The running game was nonexistent with the team managing only 35 yards on 32 carries for a yard-per-attempt average of 1.1. The Huskies also struggled when it came to third downs, converting only 2-of-12 attempts.
Even though he could not consistently pick up yards on the ground, McCombs was still the best offensive player on the field for the Huskies. The running back managed to pick up 60 yards rushing and also caught a pair of passes for 51 yards. Nick Williams was also an effective receiver out of the back field with three receptions for a team-high 59 yards. William had only one rush for a negative gain.
While Chandler Whitmer and the passing game put up more yards, it was still a struggle for the Huskies to move the ball through the air. Whitmer completed 15-of-27 pass attempts, but was intercepted three times by the strong NC State secondary.
For all its offensive struggles, Connecticut can take away some positives from the loss thanks to another strong performance from the defense. UConn allowed only 258 yards in the game and is currently the top rated team in the Big East in terms of points allowed per game (5.0) and total yards allowed (158.5 ypg).
The Huskies got consistent pressure throughout the game and ended up with six sacks as a team and 11 total tackles for loss. Yawin Smallwood is quietly turning into one of the best linebackers in the conference after he posted a career-best 14 tackles in the loss. Trevardo Williams also had a stellar game with 2.5 sacks and three total tackles for loss from the defensive line.
It was quite the one-week turnaround for the Maryland offense in the win over Temple. After managing only seven points and 236 total yards in week one of the season, the Terps lit up the scoreboard much more frequently and racked up nearly 100 more yards (334). Maryland also made plays at crucial moments, going 3-for-3 in the red zone and 7-for-16 on third downs.
Head coach Randy Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley relied heavily on the running game but got some big plays from the passing attack as well. Justus Pickett carried the ball 21 times and picked up 69 yards and a touchdown to lead all ball carriers. As a team, Maryland ran the ball 48 times for 144 yards.
That meant that quarterback Perry Hills performance (11-for-21, 190 yards, 2 TDs was plenty to balance the Terps' attack. Hills also scored a touchdown on the ground.
Although the defense did allow 26 points, the unit largely kept Temple in check on the day, allowing only 230 yards of total offense in the win. The defense also forced a pair of Temple fumbles including one on the Owls' opening drive when Joe Vellano knocked the ball from Matt Brown's hands.
Where the unit really shined was against the run, holding Temple's normally solid rushing offense to just 52 yards on 39 carries. The team stifled Brown all game, limiting the talented back to a mere 31 yards.
Vellano had a solid game overall with four total tackles, including two for loss and a sack. For how well the defense played, no player managed to rack up a huge tackle total, Cole Farrand led the team with six stops.
Maryland may not be as fortunate against UConn when it comes to scoring. So far this season the Husky defense has been stifling and against a Maryland offense that still hasn't shown much consistency, Smallwood and company should wreak havoc and push the Huskies back above .500.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 28, Maryland 14
09/12 10:57:47 ET