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West Virginia-Maryland! It's the Week 3 Preview!

It's the biggest game of the year so far for the Terps. Let's take a look ahead to Saturday's game.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland and West Virginia kick off Saturday, and are coming into this game at different points. West Virginia just blew out Towson 54-0 last week. Maryland struggled to beat South Florida 24-17. This game was a laugher last year, with Maryland demolishing WVU at M&T Bank Stadium, 37-0. Do you think the Mountaineers remember that game? I'll bet they do and they are looking to put a beat-down on the Terps this week. Let's do this!

The Quarterbacks:

Comparing West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen-led high-flying, up tempo, no-huddle offense to Maryland's anemic passing offense is kind of like comparing a Ferrari and a Pinto. WVU quarterback Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards against Alabama in Week 1 in what was pretty much a de facto road game. That is the 2nd-most passing yards that a Nick Saban-coached 'Bama team has EVER given up. So we know that Clint can throw the rock even against a very good pass rush. He is 64/85 for 713 yards and 3 TDS (and no INTs) with a completion percentage of 75.3% this season -- he's really good. Let's look at Maryland's quarterback, C.J. Brown. C.J.'s throwing ability does not exactly inspire confidence in Maryland fans. This season, C.J. is 28/52 for 312 yards with a 53.8% completion percentage. He also has 3 TD passes but has 2 picks. While Brown has dazzled at times with his legs, he had three turnovers last week, including a fumble. He will need to throw the ball better in order for Maryland to win this week and so far, we just haven't seen that from him. So in our first match-up, the battle of the quarterbacks, West Virginia holds the edge.

Advantage: West Virginia

The Running Game:

After dominating in Week 1 against James Madison, Maryland ran the ball 40 times and couldn't even average three yards per carry. Fumbling the ball seven times and losing four of them didn't help. Maryland cannot afford to give West Virginia short fields time after time and expect to win this game. I expect Wes Brown to get the bulk of the carries this week and Brandon Ross to back him up as the #2 back. Both running backs average at least five yards per carry. In many cases against spread attacks the best defense can be a good offense. The best way to beat this West Virginia team is to control the tempo of the game and keep their offense on the sideline by running the ball effectively and limiting their number of possessions. Since West Virginia runs a pass-heavy offense, it makes sense that they wouldn't have as prominent a ground game as Maryland but Rushel Shell still has over 100 yards rushing for the Mountaineers this season. He's 5'10'' but at 215 pounds he is tough to bring down. Both teams have decent run games coming into this game. Neither is dominant but Maryland is a little deeper at running back with a nice 1-2 punch in Wes Brown and Ross. C.J. Brown's ability to run the ball in spots doesn't hurt either. The edge goes to the Terps.

Advantage: Maryland

Wide Receivers:

West Virginia has three receivers with over 100 yards receiving. All three have more yards than Stefon Diggs, who leads the Terps with 103 yards. That may very well be due to WVU's no-huddle, spread offense but it tells us that WVU has some talented wide-outs. Despite the statistics that we have seen so far this season, I am confident that Diggs and Deon Long are as good a wide receiver tandem as any in the Big Ten and are as good as any on Maryland's schedule. Long had 6 catches for 98 yards in the game last year. I expect for him to perform well again this year. I think that Diggs and Long are going to get the ball quickly and they are going to get the chance to make plays against West Virginia's 3-3-5 defense. You don't throw for 365 yards against Alabama without some good wide-outs. I think that West Virginia might throw for a little over 300 yards on Saturday. I'd take Diggs and Long against Kevin White, Wendell Smallwood and Jordan Thompson but I expect that WVU will have an impressive game through the air. The question is will it be enough? I don't think either team has a decisive edge going into this game.

Advantage: Tie

Defenses:

Maryland has been great on defense this season. They have been balanced and they were great against a future star in South Florida running back Marlon Mack. The Terrapin defense held time and time again after turnovers. Through two games they have been the most consistent part of the team. They are going up against a high-flying offense led by Clint Trickett and created by offensive mastermind/evil genius Dana Holgorsen.

It is not easy to prepare for this kind of hurry-up, no huddle offense in just a week. Maryland will face a team with great speed and great timing. If they can put up yards and points on Alabama's defense, they can score on Maryland too. Maryland has solid linebackers and a solid secondary and they will have to be able to get a good pass rush with four guys. If they have to send extra guys to blitz, Trickett has the skills to make Maryland pay. Jeremiah Johnson and Will Likely will have to keep guys in front of them in order for Maryland to have a chance. Maryland's pass rush will also play a huge role in this game. If they can throw off WVU's timing, it will make a huge difference in the game.

West Virginia pitched a shut-out against Towson last week but Maryland is a much better team than the Tigers and they'll be playing on the road this week. Alabama had two running backs gain over 100 yards on the ground against the Mountaineers in Week 1. That should be encouraging for the Terps because it means they may be able to run the ball effectively against WVU. The unfortunate thing is that those running backs are T.J. Yeldon (an All-American) and Derrick Henry (a possible future All-American). Maryland doesn't have those running backs and they don't have 'Bama's offensive line.

WVU's switch back to the 3-3-5 means they may not be as comfortable in this scheme as they were last season. West Virginia held 'Bama to 33 points so we know that they can play defense but this isn't the 'Bama of old and they had a completely new quarterback for the first time in years. West Virginia's biggest challenge on Saturday will be to contain Diggs and Long in the open field. While Trickett can make Maryland pay for sending the blitz, C.J. Brown hasn't shown that. If West Virginia gets after the quarterback and Brown isn't making throws, it's going to be a long and frustrating day for Maryland fans. Maryland ranks 17th in the nation right now in points against, allowing only 12 points a game. The Mountaineers are 33rd, allowing 16.5 points a game. The Terps get the slight edge.

Advantage: Maryland

Special Teams:

West Virginia has run back a kickoff (Mario Alford against 'Bama in Week 1) and Maryland has the better field goal kicker in Brad Craddock, who made the Lou Groza Award Watch List. Who gets the edge? Nobody!

Advantage: Tie

Prediction Time!

This game has me feeling some type of way. I don't know what to think. Maryland can't really be as bad as they were against South Florida right? West Virginia probably isn't as good as their game against Towson right? C.J. Brown can't possibly throw this poorly all season right? Maryland's defense is for real right? My confidence for this game is completely shot. Vegas has the Terps by a field goal. I like the margin but I'm not sure where to put the score. Will this game be a shootout? A defensive struggle? I'm leaning more towards shootout but if West Virginia tops 40 points in this game, they are probably going to win. Maryland isn't built to win shoot-outs with teams like West Virginia. They simply don't have the offense or the firepower for it. The Terps are going to go out on Saturday behind a loud and raucous home crowd. They are going to come out wearing sweet uniforms and they are going to try and beat West Virginia with a balanced attack on offense and very good defense. This is a big game for both teams for reasons that go beyond getting a W. West Virginia has the memory of last year's blowout loss. Maryland wants to prove that they are a team to be feared in the Big Ten this year. This should be a great game on Saturday.

Final Prediction: Maryland over West Virginia 31-28