Maryland (5-4) at Virginia Tech (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 12:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lane Stadium (65,632) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: Maryland 3-2, VaTech 4-1. Away Record: Maryland 1-2, VaTech 3-1. Neutral Record: Maryland 1-0, VaTech 0-1. Conference Record: Maryland 1-4, VaTech 4-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 15-15.
GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins will try for a fourth time to become bowl eligible, as they take on the hometown Virginia Tech Hokies in an Atlantic Coast Conference bout on Saturday afternoon.
Maryland started the season extremely well with wins in five of its first six games, with its only loss in that time coming at unbeaten Florida State. Since that hot start, however, the Terps have dropped three straight, most recently falling at home to Syracuse last Saturday, 20-3. One more win will earn them bowl eligibility for the first time in the Randy Edsall era.
Virginia Tech has been unpredictable this season. Much like Maryland, it got off to a fast start at 6-1, climbing all the way to No. 16 in the AP poll, but from there it promptly dropped a pair of contests to Duke (13-10) and Boston College (34-27). Just when everyone was beginning to write the Hokies off, they captured their best win of the season a week ago in downing nationally- ranked Miami-Florida on the road, 42-24.
The all-time series between these teams has been remarkably close, and they are presently knotted at 15 wins apiece. The last matchup came in 2009, when Virginia Tech claimed a 36-9 win.
The Terps have had no problem moving the ball down the field this season -- their 415.6 yards per game ranking as the fifth-best mark in the ACC -- but that success has not translated to the scoreboard, as they rank ninth in the league in scoring (25.1 ppg). The unit took a major step backward in last week's three-point effort at home, amassing just 292 yards while committing four turnovers.
C.J. Brown has been an improvement over Caleb Rowe as the club's starting quarterback, as he has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,473 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions, but two of those picks came in last week's loss. Even when he struggles in the pocket, Brown has been effective in the ground game with 256 yards and six touchdowns.
Brandon Ross earns the majority of the work out of the backfield, turning 106 carries into 512 yards and four scores.
The receiving corps suffered a huge blow when both Stefon Diggs (587 yards, three TDs) and Deon Long (489 yards, TD) were lost for the season a few weeks back. The depleted unit is now led by Levern Jacobs, who has caught 27 balls for 428 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Maryland, its underachieving offense has spoiled the solid play of its defense, which allows just 24.9 points per game while forcing 18 turnovers.
The unit could be shorthanded on Saturday, however, as leading tackler Cole Farrand (67 tackles, 4.0 TFL) is listed as questionable with a head injury. In the event he cannot go, the Terps will need the likes of Sean Davis (65 tackles, INT), Isaac Goins (44 tackles, two INTs) and Marcus Whitfield (12.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks) to step up.
Virginia Tech has not been known for its offensive prowess this season, as it ranks near the bottom of the ACC with 24.1 points and 368.1 yards per game, but it had its best performance of the season last week against Miami, exploding for 42 points and 549 yards.
Logan Thomas was nearly flawless in the upset win, completing 25-of-31 passes for 366 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was a rare turnover-free outing for Thomas, who has thrown 12 picks this season, although he has amassed more than 2,700 total yards and scored 17 touchdowns.
Trey Edmunds hasn't been very explosive at tailback (139 carries, 521 yards), but he's a bruiser near the goal line with nine touchdowns, four of which came against Miami.
Willie Byrn (529 yards, TD), Joshua Stanford (562 yards, TD) and Demitri Knowles (475 yards, three TDs) all have at least 34 catches and make up one of the better receiving trios in the ACC.
While the offense made headlines a week ago, it's been the Hokies defense which has punished opponents all season long, ranking ninth in the nation in scoring defense (17.6 ppg), third in total defense (263.1 ypg) and tied for fourth in interceptions (17).
The ball-hawking unit is led by Kendall Fuller (five INTs) and Brandon Facyson (four INTs). Jack Tyler has a team-high 78 tackles to go with 7.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks, and Luther Maddy anchors the defensive line with 10.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks.
While Virginia Tech has been hard to pin down in recent weeks, it's definitely trending in the right direction following last week's outstanding win. With Maryland ravaged by injuries and reeling after an embarrassing home loss, the Hokies should have no issues dismissing the Terps in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 28, Maryland 13
11/14 16:04:47 ET