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Maryland vs West Virginia: Three most important matchups

Here are the three most important matchups for Maryland's first road game against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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The Maryland Terrapins are now 2-1 after their 35-17 victory against the South Florida Bulls. They will be going in hostile territory as they face their longtime rival the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Mountaineers are coming off of a 41-17 win against Liberty and their two biggest stat stuffers in that game were quarterback Skylar Howard (21-26, 263 yards (10.1 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns; 12 rushes, 68 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and Wendell Smallwood (15 rushes, 88 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Those two will be a real threat to the Terps" defense.

#1. Maryland's Defense vs WVU's Rushing Attack

WVU in their first two games have put up a total of 370 rushing yards in their first two games this season and 85 points. Those are great numbers, however, Maryland will be their first real challenge this season. The Terps' defense gave up 300 yards against the South Florida Bulls but the bright spot defensively for them was their pass defense.

West Virginia can hurt you in a variety of ways in both the run and the pass. Maryland defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski likes the progress he has seen from the defense in the first two weeks and expects to see a similar West Virginia offense from 2014. This according to 247 Sports Maryland writer Josh Stirn.

"I think the good things about the last two weeks is you’re seeing some similarities with tempo and formations and plays. The best thing about that is you’re getting those plays at fast speed [from the scout team]. At the end of the day, we’re still focused on what West Virginia does," Dudzinski said.

"They’re probably still pretty much the same as what they’ve been in the past. They’ve got a couple real good running backs in [Rushel] Shell and [Wendall] Smallwood; the quarterback is playing very well; they’ve got good receivers. They do the same things that you see over time. We expect them to be high tempo and flying around," Dudzinski said. "

The good thing for the Terps is that they have faced a quick hitting kind of offense in Bowling Green already so they have some experience there and against USF they got pressure on the quarterback and racked up six sacks. The Terps will definitely need to do that again this weekend.

William Likely vs WVU's Special Teams Unit

If West Virginia is smart, they kick the ball out of bounds to freeze William Likely's production but he can still make an impact in other ways, not just on special teams. If West Virginia tests William Likely anyway, instead of shying away from him, the Mountaineers could stop him if they get off their blocks fast enough. Key word there is "if".

Maryland's Ability to Run the Ball vs WVU's Defense

Maryland needs to get their running game going early and often, Richmond Style. When they've run the ball well, everything has fallen into place for the rest of the offense and in some way, bailed out the man under center. If they can't run the ball, Caleb Rowe and the passing game will suffer and against West Virginia, with the way they've been playing, that will be a big help to them. The Terps' offensive line needs to be physical off the line of scrimmage because the game will be won in the trenches at the end of the day.