Why It Matters: Maryland stands at 2-2, with six legitimately winnable games still remaning on their schedule. They need momentum, though, and they need to get some (relatively) easy early wins. Saturday's game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons is one of those (relatively) easy wins, and would give the Terrapins some juice heading into games against Virginia, N.C. State, Boston College, and Georgia Tech.
When + Where: 3:30 kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Byrd Stadium, College Park, Md.
Series Record: 42-17-1 Maryland, but only 2-4 in the last six
Odds: Maryland opens as 4-point faves. How about that?
At a Glance
Last Time Out: The Deacs hosted Duke last Saturday, looking for an easy win to get to 4-1 on the year. Instead, they were upset by the upstart Blue Devils, falling 34-27. Maryland, of course, had a bye week, giving them extra time to prepare. Given that WF isn't a very complicated team, that gives the Terrapins a big upper hand; expect to see some new wrinkles from Brian Stewart and Mike Locksley.
Season So Far: The Deacons aren't far away from having a very impressive record, but their performances have been fairly unconvincing. They did upset UNC (only by a point, though), but were seriously troubled by FCS Liberty and winless Army before pulling out close wins. And their losses were bad: getting mollywopped 52-0 by Florida State before losing to Duke (without their starting quarterback) at home. Their record flatters them a bit, though a bowl game is still very possible with those three early wins.
Notable Stats: Wake Forest is the only team in the ACC to rank in the bottom three in the conference in total offense, scoring offense, total defense, and scoring defense. I'm not a football genius, but that seems like a poor gameplan. ... On the flip side of that, Wake is arguably the most fundamentally-sound team in the ACC; they're the least-penalized and have the third-fewest turnovers in the conference. ... Tanner Price's QB rating: 121.24. That's the lowest in the conference, a full 12 points behind Perry Hills. ... Oh, and their special teams is probably the worst in the conference, too: 9th in punt returns, 11th in kickoff returns, 11th in punting, a conference-worst 2-4 on field goals, 9th in punt coverage, and 12th in kickoff coverage. That's...not impressive.
Of Interest: Perhaps Wake's biggest offensive weapon, wide receiver Michael Campanaro, left the Duke game with a broken hand. His official status is uncertain for Saturday, but he's already tweeted that he'll be out for several weeks. Campanaro was leading the ACC in receptions prior to Saturday, and was a go-to target for Tanner Price.
Know the Name: Deandre Martin. (And Josh Harris.) Wake has two running backs in the ACC's top 10 rushers, with Harris getting healthy and the freshman Martin impressing when he gets a look. If their passing game is indeed a bit neutered, they'll need to rely on their ground game. That's usually not a good idea against Maryland.
Probably Wrong Conclusions After a Fleeting Look: I don't know if this is just blind optimism, but I feel strangely comfortable and confident about this game. Maryland will take steps back this year - every young team does - and it's impossible to know when those errors will come. But I'd be quite surprised to see it come on Saturday: Wake Forest doesn't have a significantly better team that will challenge Maryland's weaknesses, while the Terrapins are coming off a bye, will play at home, and most of these guys will be playing in their first ACC game (so hopefully they'll be fired up). To be honest, Maryland kind of looks like the better team based on both teams' last few weeks, and they have all the circumstantial bonuses.