Stop me if you've heard this before: Maryland is one win away from clinching bowl eligibility. The Terps will get their fourth shot at a bowl bid on Saturday in Blacksburg against a Virginia Tech team that upended then No. 11 Miami on the road last week.
The Terps have yet to win a game that fell on the back half of their schedule under Randy Edsall, going 0-15 dating back to the 2011 season. It'll be hard to reverse that trend on Saturday, as the Hokies are favored by more than two touchdowns.
To get an idea of what things look like from the other sideline, Terrapin Sports Report caught up with Jason Stamm of Hokies Haven to get his perspective on Saturday's match-up, along with his final score prediction.
Coming off losses to Duke and BC, the Hokies beat Miami in their house last week - not exactly a model of consistency. Which Virginia Tech team should fans expect to see on Saturday?
It all depends on how the Hokies take care of the ball. It's pretty simple; when the offense doesn't turn the ball over, they usually win. When they do, the chances are slim. They had a pair of fumbles at Miami, but were luck enough to recover them. Miami, not so much. Based on what we saw last week, they're finally just showing what the offense was designed to look like from the beginning. Josh Stanford has become a legit threat at wide receiver, while Trey Edmunds is also finally getting going at running back.
That was a gigantic win in Miami for the Hokies. It's always hard to predict when a letdown game can happen -- even coming off that sort of high -- but do you think Virginia Tech is susceptible to that sort of thing?
Virginia Tech is notoriously known for playing down to its competition, hence the games against Boston College and Duke. I'd like to think that with so much on the line, there won't be a letdown, but it can definitely happen. If Duke loses one of its next three and the Hokies win out, they win the coastal division. The focus seems to be there after Miami, but I thought it was there before the two losses, too.
This will be the first trip to Blacksburg for the majority of the Maryland roster. Can you give us a sense of how difficult it is to come away with a win in Lane Stadium?
Lane Stadium is one of the loudest stadiums you'll go to. And Virginia Tech knows how to set the tone when "Enter Sandman" comes on when they take the field. Everyone in the stadium is bobbing up and down and yelling. The first time I went there, covering the visiting team, it gave me goose bumps. It still does on occasion, when I really take in the atmosphere - definitely one of the best in college football.
Virginia Tech probably has the best defense in the ACC. Meanwhile, Maryland is ravaged by injuries and ineffectiveness on offense. Is there any hope for C.J. Brown and the Terps? How do you score on the Hokies?
The weakness right now is the Hokies' secondary. That's where Miami burned them, with a pair of touchdown passes that each went over 80 yards. Seniors Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller are out, with ankle and groin injuries. Freshman Chuck Clark, a backup who's gotten a lot of time at safety this season, is probable with an ankle injury that's hobbled him the past few weeks. There's still plenty of depth in the group, but this is by far the most susceptible area, aside from kicker, where Virginia Tech is breaking in a new one (Eric Kristenson) after senior Cody Journell was dismissed this week.
What about the Virginia Tech pass rush? Maryland is down to its third string left tackle and the entire offense line was a sieve against Syracuse. How well do the Hokies get after the quarterback?
Oh man, there's been a few games, especially Pittsburgh, where the Hokies were absolutely suffocating. They had eight sacks that game and probably should have had eight more. Dadi Nicolas is the guy to watch here. He'll line up as a defensive end, but also move to WHIP linebacker. Very versatile, athletic player. Derrick Hopkins inside might be the best defensive tackle in the ACC. Relentless pass rusher, who's a load. He'll also line up at fullback on goal line sets.
On the other side of the ball, Logan Thomas clearly presents a lot of problems for an opposing defense. He is coming off a great performance in Miami. Can you tell Maryland fans some things they might not know about the senior?
The Virginia Tech offense goes as far as Thomas takes it. He's by far the x-factor. If he doesn't struggle and turn the ball over, Tech usually wins. Not sure if there's anything fans don't already know about him, but right now, he's looking like a third if not second round pick in next spring's NFL Draft.
Who should be the Terps' primary concern on offense, besides Thomas?
The past two games, it's been wide receiver Joshua Stanford. He's been a decent receiver, but had 171 yards receiving at Boston College. He showed that wasn't a fluke against Miami, when he had 107 yards, but most impressively, avoided about five tackles on a 32-yard touchdown catch that was a top play on ESPN. He's really coming into his own and has shown he's very dangerous offensive threat.
Finally, what is your score prediction and breakdown for tomorrow?
On senior day, with so much still at stake, plus Maryland beat up, I'd expect the Hokies to come out strong. But again, they've been known to have some letdowns. I expect the Terps to hang with them in the first half, but ultimately, as hot as the offense has been, as long as they hold on to the football, the Hokies should win pretty big. I'm taking Virginia Tech 31-13.
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