Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week 3 Preview, Part I: Further Non-Conference Damage

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007, 7:30pm ET - Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD

Series Record: West Virginia leads 22-21-2; the Mountaineers won last year's meeting 45-24
Stat Watch: 7...Maryland's national ranking in total defense
Quick Overview: The Terps' formula of playing efficient - if unspectacular - football early in games and then wearing down opponents late need not apply this week. They learned the hard way last year in falling behind 28-0 in the 1st quarter to WVU. The Mountaineer defense has been sorely tested against Western Michigan and Marshall and remains a major cause for concern. That said, one has to wonder if the Terps' tissue-soft opening games (Villanova, FIU) have adequately prepared them for the West Virginia onslaught. Nonetheless, Maryland will put some points on the board in their typical boring and plodding manner, but it will be up to the defense to hold Slaton and White in check just enough to eke out an upset.
Prediction: Strange things happen on Thursday nights, especially to road favorites. Regardless, Maryland needs too much to go right to pull off the upset, and lady luck has not so much as flirted with an ACC team in a very long while...West Virginia 34, Maryland 28

Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, 8pm ET - Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Series Record: tied 7-7; the Wildcats won the last meeting 28-10 in 2003
Stat Watch: 2...the number of Duke road wins this decade
Quick Overview: Despite Virginia's best efforts to give last week's game away to the Devils (three special teams miscues resulting in all of their points), Duke abjectly refused the gift and limped away with loss #22 in a row. Meanwhile, Northwestern mounted a gallant comeback against Nevada last week and now stands at 2-0. The Wildcats have done most things right this year...they move the ball well, snag their share of turnovers and don't cough it up themselves. Their defense is a bit iffy and that's the only possible chance the Devils have in pulling this one off...shock the Cats early with some big plays and then hang on for dear life.
Prediction: Duke methodically marches toward another zero-win campaign. Northwestern 30, Duke 14

Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, 10pm ET - Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
Series Record: Florida State leads 1-0; the Seminoles won the only previous meeting 47-7 in 2003
Stat Watch: 20-6...Bobby Bowden's record against current Big 12 programs
Quick Overview: Relatively unmentioned in the Noles' 34-24 escape last week against UAB was that defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews was laid up in the hospital with pneumonia; unsurprisingly, the defense turned in one of it's worst performances of the last few years. Andrews remains out of commission for FSU's trip to Boulder, leaving Chuck Amato as acting DC. Fortunately for the Seminoles, Colorado's offense is a ramshackle unit, and their defense has been roughed up in their first two games. Unlike last week, Florida State has had a full week to rest and prepare for the next game and it should show against the Buffaloes. Emphasis on should.
The late start and high altitude make for a dangerous intangible in the Buffs' favor...but it's not enough to give them the game. Florida State 24, Colorado 17

Previews of the other seven league games to follow shortly...

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