Temple at No. 23 Maryland
Personality Test: Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen has praised the psyche of his players this week. Instead of panicking, as his past teams might have, the Terps displayed determination in the fourth quarter against Northern Illinois. Today comes the next test: Are players looking ahead to the much-anticipated West Virginia game next week? Last season, players said, the team looked past Northern Illinois to Florida State and wound up losing both games. Temple, a four-touchdown underdog, is looking for a victory that would equal its 2003 win total. "We have a young team," Friedgen said. "They don't know yet you got to be ready for every team."
The Blitz Barrage: Temple likes to pack eight men in the box, Friedgen said, and blitz on almost every other play. That approach usually leads to big plays for the defense or offense. So Maryland starter Joel Statham, who fumbled three times in the first quarter against Northern Illinois, will have the opportunity to have a big passing day if he can pick up the blitzes and stay accurate. Last week, Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans completed 17 of 22 passes against the Owls. Another concern: Maryland's offensive line is banged up -- starting right guard Russell Bonham (knee) is likely out -- which could allow Temple to get more penetration.
One-Man Gang: Temple quarterback Walter Washington, at 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds, is one of the most athletic playmakers in the Big East. He averaged 315 yards of total offense against three ranked opponents -- Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and West Virginia -- in the final three games of last season. Last week, though, Virginia pushed Temple around up front, sacking Washington five times and forcing him to make poor reads and throws. Temple will need to avoid mistakes -- it did not commit a penalty against Virginia -- and get a stellar performance from Washington to make the game competitive.
-- Eric Prisbell
Western Michigan at Virginia Tech
Just Win, Baby: The Hokies have lost their past four games, and Coach Frank Beamer cautions that a team with so many young players (four freshmen in the starting lineup and seven as second-stringers) can be erratic. If the Hokies play like the three-touchdown favorites they are, they will get a chance to develop some depth, particularly on the offensive line. In the season-opening loss to Southern Cal, Beamer stayed with his starters the entire game. Reggie Butler starts at left guard and is listed as the immediate backup behind Jimmy Martin (Chantilly) at left tackle.
Tailback Tandem: Cedric Humes (ankle) seems to be running at full speed after rushing just nine times for 26 yards against Southern Cal. Justin Hamilton, a redshirt junior, has shown power inside in a return to his high school position after two seasons at wide receiver. If freshman George Bell does not play again, it may indicate that Beamer plans to redshirt him.
Special Special Teams: Western Michigan had a 14-0 lead before its offense took the field in its 42-0 victory over Tennessee-Martin last week. That's because Greg Jennings returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown after linebacker Mike Giorgianni had run an interception 33 yards into the end zone. Punter Adam Anderson averaged 47.5 yards on two efforts after finishing 15th in the nation last season with a 43.9 average.
Check Jennings: The Western Michigan wide receiver has scored 15 touchdowns in his 21 collegiate games. He set a school record last season with 14 touchdown catches and has had four multiple-touchdown games.
-- Ken Denlinger