Who: Maryland (6-4, 2-4 ACC) vs. Boston College (6-4, 3-3)
When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Byrd Stadium.
TV: Comcast SportsNet (Ron Thulin, play-by-play; Ovie Mughelli, color; Elizabeth Moreau, sideline.)
DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).
Satellite radio: Sirius Channel 92, XM Channel 190.
Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (third season, 12-22). Eagles – Steve Addazio (first season, 6-4)
Series: Boston College leads overall series 7-3 (4-1 in College Park).
The Terrapins haven’t won two straight since opening the season 4-0, but then again they haven’t had many chances. Until last weekend’s upset victory at Virginia Tech, which earned them bowl eligibility for the first time under Coach Randy Edsall, their only win since September came in a nail-biter at home against Virginia. But after earning its sixth win last weekend, Maryland can improve upon its postseason standing with two rather winnable games moving forward, particularly if everything comes together like it did in Blacksburg. First comes the monumental task of halting Boston College running back Andre Williams, or at least slowing him down enough to win the game. Just two teams have held the all-American candidate to less than 100 yards this season, and his 339 yards last weekend against North Carolina State set an all-time ACC record. On the offensive side, former Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown now leads the Eagles defense in Adazzio’s first season and loves dialing up blitzes, so the Terps’ new-look offensive line, which reshuffled things for the Hokies game, will have its hands full. But if quarterback C.J. Brown continues to play like he did at Lane Stadium, where he topped 100 yards rushing, made several perfect throws to backup receivers and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime, Maryland has a rather solid shot at securing that elusive second straight win.
1) Stop the run? Pretty obvious, this one. Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig is on his fifth offensive coordinator since arriving in Chestnut Hill, Mass., but everything revolves around Williams. With a legitimate shot at 2,000 rushing yards, the senior has been nearly unstoppable this season, bowling over defenders and growing stronger as games drag on.
“I think he wears you out,” defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. “You look at tape, you see the same guys tackling him early as the same guys missing and getting run over late. I think he gets stronger, and you get tired of hitting a big body.”
Stewart’s unit, despite not forcing a turnover, had arguably its best ACC game against Virginia Tech, holding the Hokies to below 60 yards rushing. While Williams will rack up yardage by sheer attrition, the Terps need to make sure he doesn’t bust loose a big touchdown run, or a least one damaging enough to turn the game’s tide.
2) Keep the momentum moving? Big picture, the Terps are elated to return to a bowl game, and will send their seniors out at Byrd Stadium on a positive note. Beating Virginia Tech was, without question, the biggest win of Edsall’s tenure in College Park, as evidenced by his bounding celebration in overtime. It not only sent Maryland to the postseason, but took some heat off a team that had, the week before, reached its low point in a 20-3 loss to Syracuse. So which Terps team shows up on Saturday? The introspective, disciplined bunch which upset the Hokies? Or might a regression happen? Maryland has certainly shown both sides this season.
3) Handle the blitz? Several defensive players remember Brown, who led the Maryland defense from 2010-11. Players estimated he blitzed nearly 85 percent of the time, and that ratio hasn’t subsided at Boston College. The Eagles defense ranks near the ACC’s cellar in points allowed, but their pass rush is furious and sack rate clocks near the league’s top. Last week, after left tackle Moise Larose suffered a mid-foot sprain, Maryland moved right tackle Ryan Doyle to left tackle, right guard Michael Dunn to right tackle and backup right guard Andrew Zeller to a starting role. This new line kept C.J. Brown upright long enough to allow him to make plays on broken passes, and while the option game was lacking, it ultimately did its job. Virginia Tech’s defense ranks as one of the ACC’s best, but how will this group handle blitz after blitz on Saturday?
12: Maryland quarterbacks who have rushed for at least 105 yards in a single game, six of whom are C.J. Brown.
13.8: Punt return average by cornerback Will Likely, which ranks fifth-best in program history. Likely broke a 63-yarder loose versus the Hokies last weekend, the first Maryland punt return touchdown since 2010.
0.61: Career sacks per game by Maryland defensive lineman Andre Monroe, who notched a career-high three against Virginia Tech. This average, which ranks him fifth nationally among active players, is just five-hundredths of a sack per game behind South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.
“He’s a big, strong, powerful back. We’re going to get a large dose of him Saturday. He’s putting up crazy numbers. He’s putting up video game-type numbers. That’s definitely going to draw our attention when we see those types of things.” – Terps defensive back A.J. Hendy on Williams.
“We know the goals they have and what they want to accomplish. They knew the magic number is the least to be eligible. We got that, and we have two more games to go. Now I think what they want to do is just continue to work to get better than what we were last week, knowing they do have six wins under their belt, but they’re not satisfied with six wins.” – Edsall.
THE SONG OF SATURDAY
“Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers