Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pregame: Maryland at #21 Boston College

On a freezing cold night in College Park last week, Florida State pounded the Terps 37-3, ending Maryland's chances as the ACC Championship. Technically, a win would give them a share of the Atlantic Division title, but Florida State owns the tiebreaker with their win. Now, the Terps have quite the game in front of them. If Maryland wins, the foe that knocked them out last week gets into the championship game. If they lose, then their opponent, Boston College, will get their ticket to Tampa.

The Maryland Terrapins (7-4, 4-3 ACC) take their Thanksgiving leftovers up to Chestnut Hill to battle the Boston College Eagles (8-3, 4-3 ACC) in their last regular season game. The Eagles have won their last three contests, the last two ACC games on the road included. Maryland has lost two of their last three games and has not played a Saturday road game since they were shutout against Virginia October 4th.

Though Maryland does not have a championship to fight for anymore, they may be playing for a bowl spot. Currently eight teams in the conference are bowl-eligible, with the possibility of going up to 10. Earlier this week, Maryland announced that if offered the EagleBank Bowl, against opponent Navy in Washington D.C. on December 20th, the Terps would decline it. The 20th is the last day of final exams, and Maryland does not want to disrupt that. This bowl would be given to one of the lower ACC teams. Though Maryland might still be given a higher-up bowl if they lose, like the Humanitarian Bowl, there is no telling what could happen. To assure a bowl, Maryland needs to win, otherwise they will be chancing it.

Scouting the Competition: Boston College Eagles

Boston College's victory over Wake Forest last week had a high price. Starting quarterback Chris Crane broke his collarbone, and is out for the rest of the year. So in his place, Dominique Davis, a redshirt freshman, will make his first start in his college career. Davis is talented, but replacing Crane, who could throw well and was a threat to run, will be very hard to do, especially with such high stakes on the line. However, Davis led BC on a touchdown drive in the 4th quarter to get the victory last week over Wake.

On the ground, two freshmen runners have been effective. Montel Harris is the primary back, averaging 5.2 yards a carry plus scoring five times. Josh Haden will also see a lot of carries, getting 4.1 yards per rush this season. There are plenty of targets for Davis; five players have at least 19 catches on the season. Rich Gunnell, the recipient of Davis's winning touchdown last week, has 39 catches to lead the unit.

But the key to this team is defense. Senior defensive tackle B.J. Raji (pictured) is one of the most feared d-linemen in the conference. On the year he has six sacks and 30 tackles. Other big time players include junior linebacker Marc Herzlich with 92 tackles and five picks and senior strong safety Paul Anderson, who also has five picks. The defense has 23 interceptions and allows just 95.8 yards on the ground per game. Also, BC has three shutouts this year, taking down Kent State, Rhode Island, and Notre Dame.

Things to look out for:
--Maryland is 6-0 in their last six games against ranked opponents, including four wins this year. They have more wins over top-25 teams this season than anyone else.
--Chris Turner has not had a great game since Maryland's shutout win over Wake Forest. He has had a few decent games since then, but he is due for a huge game, especially for his knack of coming back after big losses.
--Other than his problems with holding on to the ball, Da'Rel Scott has been good the last few games. But BC has a powerful run defense, especially on the line. He will need to be effective on breaking to the outside. Because of this, I'm not sure if Davin Meggett will see much time.
--Because of the injury to Crane, it is essential that Maryland stop the running game. The Terps need to exploit the fact that Davis has not started a game.


When not faced with expectations, Maryland plays a lot better than with them. Now that they do not have a ranking or a chance at the conference title, they will step up against BC's new quarterback. Maryland will make it 7-0 against ranked opponents.

Prediction- Maryland 23, Boston College 20

(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun (Terps photos), Grant Halverson, Getty Images (Raji))

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