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Maryland-Virginia Preview

Done with the somewhat boring Maryland Madness? Don't forget, there's going to be a rainy, drizzling football game tomorrow. Here's what to expect for homecoming:

Virginia Offense vs. Maryland Defense: As with the entire rest of the game, it really depends on which team shows up...for both teams. Will it be the UVA offense that lit up Indiana for 47 points, or the UVA offense that was 103rd in scoring offense after three weeks? Will it be the Maryland defense that somewhat successfully reigned in Clemson and strangled Rutgers until the final two possessions, or the Maryland defense that got scored on five straight possessions to open the game against Wake Forest? Depending on who shows up, we may have two very different scenarios.

Sadly, I'm not a fortune-teller, so I can't really help you out there. What I can help you out with is who exactly UVA has. Obviously, Jameel Sewell heads the UVA attack at QB, and he's been looking better and better each week. I'm sure you remember Sewell, the up and down QB who started as a freshman to solid results; he has the talent to be successful, but he's very inconsistent. Unfortunately, when he's on, he's really on, and he's on right now. His main targets are Vic Hall, who also starts at cornerback and played some QB last year, and Kris Burd, who is leading the team in receptions and yards, though he only has one touchdown.

Heading up RB is usually Mikell Simpson, whom you probably know pretty well. He got hurt last week, though, and is questionable for the game today. His status very well could be a deciding factor Saturday. If he's not good to go, Torry Mack will take his place as backup RB, but Rashawn Jackson, a running FB, will likely receive the majority of the carries. If it's rainy, they might have to rely on the running backs, and the lack of Simpson would really hurt.

The Cavs' OL has only one senior, Will Barker at RT, and the inexperience shows: they're one of the five - only five - teams to allow more sacks than Maryland. Let that sink in a bit. The defensive line has to show up tomorrow and make an impact against one of the few OLs that won't have a big advantage.

Maryland Offense vs. Virginia Defense: Ok, so it's not the biggest of sample sizes, but Virginia has completely dominated their last two opponents defensively. They're allowing just five points a game over the last two weeks, and that's against legitimate opponents in good conditions. They didn't hold Western Kentucky to 3 in the driving rain; they beat UNC in sunny conditions in Chapel Hill. The same can be said of the Indiana game, when they held the Hoosiers to just 7. I really don't know what changed, but something radical happened in just a few weeks. 

Again, even though I'm not psychic, I can tell you what they bring. UVA has a 3-4 defense again, which has had mixed results in the past. If they blitz a decent amount, as 3-4s normally do, a possibly Bruce Campbell-less Maryland might have a lot of trouble picking up speedy linebackers.

Speaking of linebackers, they're led by redshirt freshman inside linebacker Steve Greer, who is tops on the team in tackles. He's still not close to Alex Wujciak, but he does have a very respectable 37 tackles. Perhaps the most striking thing about Virginia has been their pass defense. While they have played two very run-heavy teams, they've looked solid against UNC and Indiana, both of whom are normal, passing teams. It also helps to have two very good corners in Ras-I Dowling, who was preseason All-ACC, and whom most QBs try to avoid, and Chris Cook, who has two INTs.

This is a pretty solid defense. They're probably not as good as #1 in the nation, like they've played, but they're very solid and could be tough to score against.

Prediction: Virginia 21, Maryland 17. Virginia's hot, but not as good as they've been playing. A motivated Torrey Smith alone will give Maryland 14 points, and UVA's offense isn't good enough to put up as much as Wake Forest did. Still, not much is going right for Maryland, and I don't expect that to change against a streaking UVA.