Some expecting Maryland to blow out Florida International?
Driving down Route 29 Tuesday morning on my way to Maryland’s media access, I heard a promo on ESPN980 for Saturday’s Maryland-Florida International game. I’ve heard these before for Redskins game, and there usually is a touch of commentary mixed in referencing the previous week’s game. Well, there was a reference to the tough loss at West Virginia and the suggestion that this was the bounce-back week when the Terrapins can inflict a beating on their opponent much like they did two weeks ago against hapless Morgan State.
I shook my head and laughed. I’m not sure what game that was supposed to promo, but it’s not the game I’ll be covering at Byrd Stadium on Saturday.
This will be a game. Maryland could lose this game. The more I learn about FIU, the more I feel that way. FIU has four BCS conference opponents to start the year, including three (Texas A&M, Maryland and Pittsburgh) on the road. That’s a tough slate for Florida, much less Florida International. It played Rutgers in Florida in the opener. The Maryland game is the easiest of the four for FIU. They are coming here believing they can win, just as another Sun Belt Conference team, Middle Tennessee State, did last season and the year before in
beautiful one-of-a-kind Murfreesboro, Tenn.
"They are 0-2 but they probably should be 2-0," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "This is a very, very important game on our schedule."
Here is what FIU has done so far: It entered the fourth quarter with leads over Rutgers and Texas A&M. It significantly outgained Rutgers in total yards. It has forced eight turnovers in two games. It ranks ninth nationally in tackles for loss and 12th in sacks. FIU intercepted Texas A&M on four consecutive drives. It nearly won a game in front of 79,000 hostile fans in College Station, Texas, --- it may not play in front of half that at Byrd. FIU is aggressive defensively and possesses speed and athleticism.
``Nobody in [the locker room] is happy,'' FIU coach Mario Cristobal told the Miami Herald just moments after the A&M game. ``We never will be with any type of moral victory. But are we advancing? Without a doubt. `
`We're playing BCS opponents to the wire,'' he added. ``The physicality of our football team is better. We can and we will take that next step, be that Sun Belt Conference team that can beat one of those BCS schools that we face.''
Check this link for more on FIU.
You consider all that and then look at the issues Maryland has offensively. A reshuffled line. Nagging injuries for the only experienced quarterbacks on the roster. A struggling running game. The Terrapins will have their hands full Saturday. All that said, I’m not impressed with FIU’s offense, a spread attack that has struggled through most of two games. I think the turnover battle will be key. This is a must-win for Maryland, essentially. I’m leaning toward picking the Terrapins, but I’m not going to feel overly confident about it. I'll close my eyes and pick the Terps grudgingly. And I'll be laughing about that silly ESPN980 promo during a nip-and-tuck battle Saturday afternoon.
"They are definitely better than people think," linebacker Alex Wujciak said.
| September 22, 2010; 8:36 AM ET
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