Maryland is one of the nation’s worst Bowl Championship Series conference teams. But the Terrapins are not the worst. That dubious distinction belongs to Indiana, which has not beaten a FBS team this season; or Kansas, which has one of the worst defenses in the history of Western Civilization; or one of the other sad-sack teams listed below. If Charles Robinson had not dropped the Nevin Shapiro bombshell a few weeks before the Miami game, the Hurricanes may have been at full strength and may have beaten Maryland. It’s a moot point: Maryland earned the victory and, therefore, is near the bottom but not at the bottom. These are the BCS conference teams I feel are in contention for the less-than-coveted 2011 Bottom of the Barrel Award:
Maryland (2-8): Beat Miami, beat Towson
Indiana (1-9): Beat South Carolina State
Minnesota (2-8): Beat Miami (Ohio), beat Iowa
Kansas (2-8): Beat McNeese State, beat Northern Illinois
Colorado (2-9): Beat Colorado State, beat Arizona
Arizona (2-8): Beat Northern Arizona, beat UCLA
Mississippi (2-8): Beat Southern Illinois, beat Fresno State
I look at three computer ratings — three of the six that are used as part of the computer component of the official BCS ratings — each week to get a sense of different ways to gauge a team’s strength. This week, Jeff Sagarin has Maryland at 93. The Colley Matrix has Maryland at 101. And Kenneth Massey has Maryland at 99. Massey includes FCS teams as well as Division II teams, etc.
What is also interesting, but not relevant for this game, is that Maryland ranks 376th in estimated home advantage, behind juggernauts like Wingate (5-6); the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets in Spearfish, S.D.; (3-7) and Olivet Nazarene (5-6). According to Massey’s usually accurate computations, Wake Forest will beat Maryland, 35.2 to 24.2, and that Wake Forest has an 80 percent chance to win the game. On his Web site, Massey, whose BCS-compliant version of his ratings do not account for margin of victory, has explained the basis of his ratings as this: “Massey’s BCS ratings are the equilibrium point for a probability model applied to the binary (win or loss) outcome of each game.”
You can crunch the aforementioned numbers, mull over Massey’s equilibrium point and weigh all of the potential binary outcomes in your mind until your eyes glaze over. Or . . . just use your eyes. Maryland is not very good and will probably lose again. The Terrapins have lost five straight games by double digits. Pick the Terps at your own peril. Honestly, I would be tempted to pick the 2009 Terps over the 2011 Terps.
Quarterback C.J. Brown, who will make his fourth start, said it could very well be a shootout. Wake Forest averages more than 28 points per game. Maryland’s defense can give up quite a few, of course. Most interesting to me is how effective Brown will be. Wake Forest ranks 53rd nationally against the run. The Demon Deacons have some capable defensive backs, including redshirt freshman cornerback Merrill Noel, but they rank 88th against the pass. The question is how well Brown can make use of wide receiver Quintin McCree, who has 25 receptions in his last four games, and others in the passing game. Also, I don’t think running back D.J. Adams will get much action unless the injuries to other backs are significant.
And don’t think Wake Forest doesn’t remember Maryland racking up 62 points last year against the Demon Deacons. The safe bet is that Wake Forest wins and becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. The tougher question is whether Maryland will lose a sixth straight by double digits. I say no. I missed the Notre Dame-Maryland score by two points. Here’s my pick this week:
Wake Forest 34, Maryland 27