Every few seasons, you encounter a college football game so deliciously compelling that, well, it’s more than a game. It attracts the attention of face-painting fanatics, weekend-only fans and gray-haired grandmothers across the nation. You tick down the hours until kickoff. Your palms grow sweaty during pregame warmups. You make friendly wagers on the coin flip.
Maryland-Boston College is not one of those games.
“It is crab cake time for the hounds, as this is the dog of the week,” wrote Mike Huguenin, who picks every game of the week for Yahoo Sports. “These teams have a combined three wins, and two of those are over FCS programs.”
Okay, even if this is the dog game of the year or the dog game of the century, whatever you want to call it, this is also something else for the struggling Terrapins: their most winnable remaining game. Maryland has had a difficult schedule this year. Games against Miami, West Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Florida State offered matchups against either national brands (Miami, Florida State) or nationally ranked teams (the others). And Temple turned out to be more formidable than most expected. But Boston College has fallen on hard times after the program’s long string of recent success. Both teams have glaring warts.
Maryland and its fans look at Boston College and say that is the team we can beat. Boston College and its fans look at Maryland and say that is the team we can beat.
Ever check out some of the more credible computer ratings? It’s bad enough to be near the bottom in a lot of national statistical categories among FBS teams, as Maryland’s defense and special teams are. But Boston College as a team rates 137th in the Sagarin ratings, which rank all Division I teams, FBS and FCS. The Eagles are ranked lower than a sizable number of FCS teams, including Towson, which Maryland defeated earlier this season.
With a matchup like this, the outcome can often boil down to which team plays with the focus and intensity of the team that it wishes it were. In short, which team still believes it can salvage this season? The Terrapins (2-5) have a better chance than the Eagles (1-6) of resuscitating their bowl hopes.
I expect to see two Maryland quarterbacks play during the game. I expect Boston College to have some success in the ground game with an offensive line that is progressing. I expect BC linebacker Luke Kuechly to make a tackle or 20. I expect some big plays and also some miscues by the Terrapins’ porous defense. I expect some long kickoff returns by Boston College; Maryland has given up more kickoff returns of 50, 60 or 70 yards than any other team in the country. And I expect a less-than-impressive fan turnout at Byrd Stadium amid the rain or snow or whatever Jack Frost treats us with.
Make no mistake, the game won’t be easy on the eyes. But the Terrapins will win in a cover-your-eyes, hold-your-nose type way. Nick Ferrara banks in a 50-yarder at the horn, sending 32,000 out of Byrd with glee.
Maryland 11, Boston College 8
What do you think?