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Maryland-Boston College preview - road block

By Rick Nelligan

The game against Boston College this week is going to be the biggest litmus test of the season for the Terps. The Navy game showed that we can hang with a tough opponent. The West Virginia game showed that we aren’t ready for the top 25 level of competition yet. The Duke game helped prove that last year is behind us. Now comes a game against a decent, yet very gritty, Boston College team on the road. The question this game should answer for the Terps is are the Terps ready to go back to a bowl game again?

My Terps fan-blogger counterpart Ryan Broadwater briefly previewed each of the Terps' remaining games. It’s not an easy schedule, but there are some winnable games. But the Terps have lost ten straight on the road, so a win against Boston College would definitely help give them confidence to start the second half of their schedule.

Other than their records (Boston College is 2-4 and 0-3 in the ACC while Maryland is 4-2 and 1-1 in the ACC), it’s pretty eerie how similar the Eagles and Terps are. Both have freshman quarterbacks who just recently took over the reins of their teams. Both have very good running backs, and in Maryland’s case two good running backs. Both have inconsistent offensive lines. Both have very good, tough defenses led by outstanding linebackers.

So with these teams being so similar, I believe this game will come down to two things. First, which team's running backs can be successful enough to take the heat off of their freshman quarterbacks? Boston College boasts a backfield with the ACC’s leading rusher in Montel Harris, who is averaging 96.3 yards per game on the ground. But Harris is just one man with no proven backup, and only has one rushing touchdown all season. Maryland has two proven, explosive running backs to lean on in Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. Combined, the tandem averages 105.2 yards per game on the ground, and has six rushing touchdowns. Advantage Terps.

The second key will be which team can perform better on special teams. Boston College boasts one of the better kickers in the country in freshman Nate Freese, who has hit on 12 of 14 field goal attempts this season. In comparison, Terps punter and fill-in kicker Travis Baltz has only hit on 4 of 6 of his field goal attempts, including an ugly 33 yard miss last Saturday. But, the Terps also feature the best punt returner in the nation, Tony Logan. Logan is averaging an NCAA best 24.6 yards per punt return, including two for touchdowns. I’ll take touchdowns over field goals every day of the week, therefore I say, advantage Terps (it has nothing to do with me being biased… maybe a little.)

In the end, this is going to be a defensive slugfest in Chestnut Hill. But look for Tony Logan to be the x-factor in this game. When Logan is stifled, the Terps lose (see: at West Virginia, at Clemson.) But when Logan is explosive and is able to give the Terps good field position, the Terps win (see: any one of the Terps wins). I’d love to see Logan become more involved on offense and for good reason. Even though Boston College only allows 1.4 yards per punt return, I believe Logan is too good to be held down for consecutive games and will break at least one big one to give the Terps the edge. My prediction: the Terps fight hard to become one game away from being bowl eligible and win 21-17 in Chestnut Hill.

By Box Seats blogger  | October 22, 2010; 8:11 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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