Here's one positive for Maryland: ACC teams are only 19-14 in home league games this season. What's more, Maryland came within two plays of winning games at West Virginia and Clemson, two of the most difficult places to play in the Big East and ACC, respectively.
The difference tonight is that Maryland players have not played in Lane Stadium because this is Virginia Tech's first year in the conference. And in 10 previous appearances on Thursday night, Virginia Tech is 9-1, with its only loss coming in 1995. "That's enemy territory," Maryland offensive lineman Lou Lombardo said. "We've been to West Virginia and Virginia, but most of us have never been there."
Maryland players acknowledged they did not play well against Virginia on Nov. 6, but many took exception with Coach Ralph Friedgen's characterization that players had "blank stares" and looked like "zombies." Players said Friedgen's comments were most likely fueled by emotion, the disappointment of losing to a rival. "Losing to Virginia was a difficult thing for me," Friedgen said, "and I'm sure it was for [the players]. But I've got to get my head out of my rear end and get going and so do they. Life moves on."
In another motivational tactic, Maryland players are wearing red rubber wristbands that have the following mantra written on them: "Are you in or are you out? I'm in."
Wanted: Wide Receivers
Maryland is down to only a handful of healthy wide receivers because of injuries. Jo Jo Walker, Dan Melendez and Drew Weatherly may not play tonight. Steve Suter is back, but it remains to be seen if he can play at full speed. Maryland's injury situation heightens the challenge for quarterback Joel Statham, who injured his collarbone against Virginia but is at full strength.
Virginia Tech has the conference's second-best pass defense, and no ACC team has allowed fewer first downs than the Hokies. "We've got some issues we're dealing with," Friedgen said. "We had some issues when we played Florida State, too. Let's not worry about the guys who can't play. Let's worry about the guys who can play."
Watch which team has more success running the ball tonight. Since 1999, Virginia Tech is 52-5 when outrushing its opponent and 3-11 when being outrushed.
Hokies running back Mike Imoh ran for a school-record 243 yards last week against North Carolina.
Maryland must also contend with mobile quarterback Bryan Randall, who averages 40 yards rushing per game.
Maryland, on the other hand, has not registered more than 83 yards rushing in a game since the Sept. 25 victory at Duke.