road skills : Five of the last six matchups between Maryland and Virginia have been won by the road team, so home-field advantage has been rendered wholly irrelevant in recent years. Then again, this weekend marks homecoming celebrations for the Cavaliers, who are seeking to turn their season around after four consecutive losses. The Terrapins have defied expectations in two road games, surviving a second-half comeback at Temple and limiting Heisman candidate Geno Smith to his lowest offensive output of the season at West Virginia. Can the Cavaliers regain their Scott Stadium footing?
GROUND GAME: With Maryland running back Wes Brown shelved with a shoulder injury, Justus Pickett will be counted on to shoulder the load behind an inexperienced offensive line that’s undergone its share of growing pains. On the other side of the ball, a Virginia rushing attack that blasted Maryland at Byrd Stadium last season has been inconsistent at best in 2012, most recently mustering just two second-half yards against Duke compared with 184 in the first half. Things won’t get easier against a Maryland defense ranked seventh nationally in yards allowed per game.
CONTAINING DIGGS: Limiting Maryland freshman Stefon Diggs to minimal yards-after-catch will be paramount for the Virginia defense. Diggs has won the ACC rookie of the week award after his past two games, most recently thanks to a 63-yard reception that set up Pickett’s one-yard, game-winning scoring plunge against Wake Forest. With a muffed punt and a dropped pass, Diggs called the 19-14 win over the Demon Deacons one of his worst games. If he’s operating at full capacity, things could become electric in Charlottesville.
— Alex Prewitt
3 p.m. at Scott Stadium, Charlottesville.
TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WSPZ (570 AM), WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).
Records: Cavaliers 2-4; Terrapins 3-2.