Call me the quintessential political flip-flopper. Turns out, as John Kerry may say, I voted for Maryland before voting against ’em. But I just can’t ignore Thursday night’s suspensions of wide receivers Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree.

During the preseason, I predicted that Maryland would lose to West Virginia. But all this week, as I told one passionate fan, I changed my mind and predicted that Maryland would beat the Mountaineers by a point. Well, I’m changing my mind one final time.

Truth is, Maryland’s offense is more explosive than I expected. I don’t put a big asterisk next to the Miami game, as some people do. Danny O’Brien is not going to throw that interception again. Maryland looked fundamentally sound in terms of penalties and execution against Miami. And I have not been sold on West Virginia after watching most of their first two games. Yes, WVU likely kept some of its innovative playbook closed for those games and will have some effective surprises Saturday. But the Mountaineers have issues in the running game and with starting games slowly. They are not creating turnovers nor sacking quarterbacks with regularity despite playing inferior competition. And the game is in College Park. All that points to Maryland.

BUT . . .

Let’s face it, the absence of Tyler and McCree means that Maryland enters an expected offensive shootout with three receivers — Kevin Dorsey, Kerry Boykins and Tony Logan — who have ever caught a pass in college. It’s an issue. They have the right guy at quarterback. But in a game that promises to be both high scoring and taut throughout, it won’t take much to swing the outcome. The suspensions swing the outcome.

West Virginia 35, Maryland 34

Please take an unbiased look at the matchup. How do you think the game will play out?