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Ranking This Season's Games, in Order of Difficulty

While watching the first five periods of practice the other day, I chatted with a few writers about which Maryland games will be the most difficult and which will be the least difficult. So here is my attempt to rank the 12 games in order of difficulty. Reasonable people can disagree, of course. I remember doing this during camp last summer, as well, but it wound up being meaningless because the 2008 Terrapins lost to Middle Tennessee, were on the wrong end of a shutout at Virginia and wound up beating Clemson. I’m interested in what others feel will be the most difficult game this season. Here is my take:

1) at California, Sept. 5
One of the nation’s youngest teams heads 2,500 miles to play at 10 p.m. (our time) against an improved Cal team that includes the nation’s most electrifying player (Jahvid Best). Oh, the Golden Bears are looking for a little revenge, as well. I think the 21-point spread is too much, but this will be a Grade A challenge.
2) at Florida State, Nov. 21
If you assume the Seminoles are back, and if you assume they will have plenty to play for this late in the season, then this could be the toughest game overall. The defense lost some from last season, but the offensive line returns intact. The young Terps will be a little seasoned by this point of the season, though. Maybe.
3) Virginia Tech, Nov. 14
The loss of running back Darren Evans (knee) hurts but does not change the fact that this is Maryland’s toughest home game by far. The Hokies are the league’s only true national title contender, if the ACC has any at all. The defense, particularly the secondary, promises to be strong. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor needs to stay on the field, and Virginia Tech needs a more potent passing game, obviously.

4) at North Carolina State, Nov. 7
Yes, the Wolfpack has some issues. The loss of top linebacker Nate Irving, who is recovering from injuries suffered during a car crash in June and will miss the season, raises questions about the defense. Some still question whether quarterback Russell Wilson – perhaps the best in the league – can stay healthy for an entire season. Never an easy place to play, but the Terps have won here before, and it would not be outlandish to suggest they could again.
5) Clemson, Oct. 3
The Tigers are one of the conference’s toughest team to predict because they underachieve more often than not. They lose a game they should win at least once per season. They suffered a devastating home loss to Maryland last season and should be ready for this one. This will be Maryland’s fourth consecutive home game, which comes one week after a tough test against Rutgers.
6) at Wake Forest, Oct. 10
Unlike Clemson, Coach Jim Grobe’s team overachieves more times than not, and it will have to do as much this season. The defense lost a ton of talent. I still have questions about the wide receivers. Quarterback Riley Skinner should be improved. More than a tough game, this is a critical contest because both Wake Forest and Maryland could have similar seasons. A virtual toss-up game.
7) Rutgers, Sept. 26
Expectations vary about Rutgers. Some believe this is the year the Scarlet Knights can win the Big East. Others cite a new quarterback and wide receivers and say no. The offensive line and defense are very good. It wouldn’t surprise me if Maryland wins or loses this one, but the Terrapins need to beat either Clemson or Rutgers early in the season.
8) at Duke, Oct. 24
Dangerous game. Dangerous game. Dangerous game. I don’t think Duke will be as strong as it was last season. QB Thaddeus Lewis may be the second-best quarterback in the league, but there are few threats at the skill positions. That said, Duke looks at its schedule and sees the Maryland game as one it can win. If Maryland looks at the schedule and sees the Duke game as one it is assured to win, then we have a problem.
9) Boston College, Nov. 28
Another game that's difficult to assess because it’s hard to know what the Eagles will have to play for this late in what could be a lost season. I repeat: could be a lost season. The program has endured a lot since the end of last season. The Eagles will be well coached but the roster is depleted. This is a game Maryland should win and may need to win to become bowl eligible.
10) Virginia, Oct. 17
The Cavaliers lost a good number of defensive playmakers and wide receivers from a team that wasn’t all that great last season. But that team did shut out Maryland. Coach Al Groh could be coaching for his job this season, and it’s always a heated rivalry. But this is Maryland’s least difficult ACC game.
11) Middle Tennessee, Sept. 19
So the teams I have at No. 10 and No. 11 both beat Maryland last season. Go figure. It’s hard to imagine the Blue Raiders beating Maryland in back-to-back seasons, but I do recall Middle Tennessee being one of the nation’s youngest teams last season and Maryland being among the most experienced. This year, the teams trade roles. I still say Terps win, but it could be interesting early.
12) James Madison, Sept. 12
And let it be said: This is no lock victory for Maryland either. James Madison is one of the top 10 or so division I-AA teams. This is its first game of the season, so it will have all summer to prepare. The Terrapins get back on Sunday from playing at Cal and who knows where their heads are at that point. Maryland wins, but don’t be surprised to see a sluggish first half.

By Eric Prisbell  |  August 18, 2009; 8:48 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Comments

If history means anything the VT game will be the toughest as they always seem to smoke us. I think they'd beat us with one hand tied behind their backs.

Posted by: cjterps98 | August 18, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Please, for the love of God, play well against Virginia Tech this year. And Virginia.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 18, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I would move the Cal game down to #3 on that list but other than that I think it's spot on. I just am not buying the young OLine being such a problem when the OLine being inconsistent wass the problem last year. Can't see the Terps taking a step back. Exciting season form my vantage point.

Posted by: Lee26 | August 18, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

University of Virginia students and alumni sing "The Good Old Song" after each touchdown, followed by the "WAHOO -WA" cheer.
The TERPS will be favored.
I plan to take the points - and be singing and cheering often on October 17.

Posted by: lmiller328 | August 18, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Agree that the Cal game is the toughest on the schedule. I might feel differently if the game was not at 10 p.m. but given the fact that our players are usually in bed by 10 at this time of year due to practices at the crack of dawn, it's a big advantage for Cal. Similar to the noon start last year which was a big advantage for our players as the Cal team was playing at 9 a.m. their time.

Definitely do not agree that the Boston College and Virginia games are going to be easier than the Duke game. Perhaps you've forgotten about Duke, since we have not played them in FIVE years. The last time we played down in Durham, by far the worst team in the Fridge era smoked the Dookies behind 3 TDs to Vernon Davis. Perhaps you think this game will be tough because it's on the road, but a game at Duke is like playing on a neutral field. Their crowd is tiny and their fans don't make anywhere near the kind of noise they make at bball games.

We beat Duke by at least double digits.

Posted by: Barno1 | August 18, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The schedule really means everything in college football. We don't play Duke for 5 years and we lose out on several easy wins on our ACC record. What if we had 1 more win on our record going into the finale in 06 and 08?

In 06, the season ending loss to Wake would have been irrelevant since we would have already wrapped up the division title and would have been headed to the ACC Championship game regardless.

In 08, if we had one more win on our record going into the final reg season game at Boston College, maybe we give a better effort in that game--since a win there in such a scenario would have also wrapped up the division title.

People would look at the post-2001-2003 Md football era differently if we have 1 or maybe even 2 division titles in the last 3 years. But thanks to the ACC realignment, we lost out on almost guaranteed-wins when we went 5 years without having Duke on our schedule.

Something to think about when people call for Fridge's head.

Posted by: Barno1 | August 18, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

This is a BRUTAL schedule, and I do not see how the Terps finish better than 7-5, if they are blessed to do so. Sadly, the first game in Berkeley, CA will go a long way to this young team's confidence. The coaching MUST be way better no matter what, or we are gonna need an alternative to James Franklin.

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | August 18, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Ejharris, dude this is hands down the best schedule we've had in years. Our first 9 games are very favorable and we should still be in the ACC hunt come mid November.

Posted by: Barno1 | August 18, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

As I've said all along, if the Terps beat Cal, we could conceivably go 8-0 to start the season.After Cal, we play the next 4 games at home or the next 5 out of six depending how you look at it. The problems lie in whether or not we get fired up for certain games. Last year we matched up with Cal, Clemson, UNC and others because we were hungry. That same hunger disappeared against MidTenn and UVA.

Hopefully, the Terps will have learned their lesson. Find a reason to win every week. Beat Cal, and you can shut up those critics who picked us last. Put your foot on the necks of JMU and don't let up. MidTenn and UVa are revenge games. We've beaten Clemson, Wake, Rutgers, and NC STate; they don't scare us. No way we lose to Duke; if we do I will personally sign all the "Fire Fridge" petitions out there.

8-0 going against FSU and VaTech.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | August 18, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Barnyard1, What do ya mean best schedule in years. I predict 6 and 6. losses to calif,Rutgers,Clemson,nc state( with wilson),Virgina tech(large margin as usual)and fsu.

This will be the fridge last hoorah,,,When he leaves recruiting will pickup thus better teams

Sorry for the bad news however Calif loss will hurt bad.

Posted by: carolina1 | August 18, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Barnyard1, What do ya mean best schedule in years. I predict 6 and 6. losses to calif,Rutgers,Clemson,nc state( with wilson),Virgina tech(large margin as usual)and fsu.

This will be the fridge last hoorah,,,When he leaves recruiting will pickup thus better teams

Sorry for the bad news however Calif loss will hurt bad.

Posted by: carolina1 | August 18, 2009 4:47 PM

FEAR THE TURTLE

TERPS 27 CAL 24

Posted by: carolina1 | August 16, 2009 7:13 PM

Further evidence this guy is retarded

Posted by: Barno1 | August 18, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Ouch!! DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER WORDS IN YOUR VOCAB

Posted by: carolina1 | August 19, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Carolina1:
I'm going to have to go with Barno on this one. You did say that Md would beat Cal; now you're changing your tune. Either you're a fan or you're not. You can't have it both ways.

Fear the truth.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | August 19, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Had to come out of hibernation to comment on The Terrapin Insider's resident loser Carolina1. First of all, he's not a MD fan in the slightest. The guy has made it his mission on here to trash our coach, our players, and our fans ever since he popped up on here a few weeks back. If others didn't notice, he was kicked off this blog for a while and his commments were even deleted by the Post. Then he came back but forgot to change his Carolina handle on here while still claiming he was some big MD booster, like anyone on here believed him (hah!). He's just not an intelligent guy. Period.

He makes outlandish claims like the point spread for the opener will drop like 10 points, and that the spread has already dropped to 15 (which others pointed out that it hasn't dropped at all), and then finally says the MD loss at Cal "will hurt bad" 2 days after he claimed MD would beat Cal.

Barno is right. The guy is retarded...yes, retarded. He's a loser who should just be ignored from this point forward...eventually he will get the point that no one on here wants him around and will find some other blog to harrass people on.

Posted by: brianxp | August 19, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Get use to it my friend.I am a terp fan who is not going away and yes i can change my mind on things during the season.

I did not need to change my screen name because i was not guilty of foul language.

if you continue to use the Phrase " retard" which is a form of hate towards Mentally challenged folks then you will be kicked off the board.

Check the law on the illegal use of this word.

For the record... i am a md fan who graduated in 75... Have been a terp club doner since 1980... now a coaches club level donor...will be sitting in the new mezz seats this year

In closing keep using the word...

Posted by: carolina1 | August 19, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Good article & some good comments--------VT Tech is our nemisis , CAL looks good on paper.I just learned ESPN had Rutgers as #18 pre season------Don't believe all this pre season hype---------TERP'S can do well this year---------8 or 9 win season is in reach.

Posted by: artbrzostowski | August 21, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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