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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
Thursday, November 6th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: ACC foes will collide in Blacksburg on Thursday night, as the Virginia Tech Hokies host the 23rd-ranked Maryland Terrapins.
Maryland has won five of its last six games to climb into first place in the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Terps treated the Homecoming crowd to a thrilling 27-24 victory over NC State two weeks ago. They were idle last weekend and figure to enter this tilt both rested and confident.
As for Virginia Tech, its has lost its last two outings to fall to fourth place in the league's Coastal Division. Like Maryland, Tech hasn't played in nearly two weeks, and its last outing resulted in a 30-20 setback to Florida State on the road. There is some reason for confidence, however, as the Hokies have won their last four home games when unranked and hosting a ranked team.
Maryland owns a 15-13 series lead over Virginia Tech, but the Hokies have won the last three meetings.
Placekicker Obi Egekeze lifted Maryland to victory over NC State on a late field goal in the most recent outing. "Everyone said we're going to need you, and I was prepared to go out there and do what I needed to do," said Egekeze, who was quick to credit his snapper and holder. The field goal, a 20-yard chip shot, capped an impressive 15-play, 89-yard drive orchestrated by the Terps. Da'Rel Scott was the offensive star of the game for Maryland, as he ran the ball 23 times for 163 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, Scott was forced out of that tilt with a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will be ready to play this weekend. Chris Turner, the club's starting quarterback, completed 9-of-20 passes for 126 yards and one score. The offense only held possession of the ball for 24 minutes but still managed to do enough to win.
Overall this season, Maryland is scoring 23.4 ppg to go along with 366.6 total ypg. The Terps are averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt and 12.3 yards per pass completion, proof that they are capable of moving the ball via both means of attack. Scott has rushed for 718 yards and five touchdowns, and he will be missed if he can't play. As for Turner, he has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,428 yards and eight touchdowns against six interceptions. Darrius Heyward-Bey leads the receivers with 25 catches for 404 yards and four scores.
The weather conditions were quite nasty in the game between Maryland and NC State. "The rain factored a lot into the game," said Terps' defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre. "I have never played in anything like that in my life. Being cold is one thing, but when it's cold and raining out that's another." Maryland allowed a touchdown to NC State in each of the first three quarters, but the Terps managed to shut out the Wolfpack in the final frame, key to the victory. The overall defensive performance wasn't spectacular by any means, but it is fair to call the effort solid.
Opponents are scoring only 19.2 ppg against Maryland, which is giving up 365.6 total ypg. The Terps have been slightly better against the run than the pass, as they are surrendering 137.2 ypg on the ground on an average of 3.7 ypc. Alex Wujciak continues to lead Maryland with 80 total tackles. Moise Fokou has made 6.5 TFLs, including four sacks.
Virginia Tech has some health issues at the quarterback position, as both Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon are suffering from ankle injuries suffered against Florida State. The signal callers are listed as questionable, and their status will be monitored closely all week. Asked when the last time he had two quarterbacks knocked out of the same game, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said, "I don't think ever. I can't remember."
Regardless who has been under center this season, Tech has struggled to move the ball consistently, as the team is averaging a lowly 280.0 total ypg. Fortunately, the team has managed to score a respectable 23.9 ppg thanks to strong defense and solid special teams play. The passing game accounts for only 120.0 ypg with three touchdown passes in eight outings. The ground attack has mustered 14 touchdowns, but an average of 3.7 yards per carry is far from impressive. Darren Evans leads the club with 519 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while Taylor is second with 442 yards.
Against Florida State in the most recent contest, Tech only managed 243 yards of total offense. The ground attack was bottled up, as it managed only 2.4 yards per carry. Evans carried the ball 15 times for 77 yards, but the rest of his teammates struggled to find running lanes. Glennon saw significant time under center and threw the ball fairly well, but he was sacked four times. Clearly, this offense lacks explosiveness.
Opponents are scoring 21.1 ppg against Virginia Tech, which is limiting foes to 304.2 total ypg. The Hokies have given up their fair share of big plays through the air, but they have just as many interceptions (nine) as passing touchdowns allowed. As for the play against the run, Tech is permitting 3.4 yards per carry. Keep an eye on Orion Martin, as he has made 10.5 TFLs thus far, including 5.5 sacks. As for Victor Harris, he has four interceptions to his credit.
It seems awfully strange that Florida State was able to score 30 points against Virginia Tech considering that the Hokies surrendered only 248 total yards in the clash. FSU was able to cash in on some good field position. Overall, the Hokies put forth a mediocre defensive effort. "I thought we battled," said Beamer. "That's what I started out asking them was to play hard."
The crowd will play a huge role in this contest, as the home team always seems to get a boost when playing on a night other than Saturday. Expect Virginia Tech to feed off the Blacksburg faithful and score a much-needed victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 23, Maryland 20
11/05 10:26:36 ET