October 26, 2013

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Maryland

Throw matchups, x’s and o’s, and personnel out the window this week, Saturday’s game comes down to one thing.

Mental toughness.

Can Maryland overcome all of the injuries on offense? Or will it be Clemson who overcomes its recent struggles and the blowout loss to Florida State a week ago?

The team that is able to overcome all of the negativity is the one that will emerge victorious on a cold, windy Maryland afternoon.

WHAT: No. 9 Clemson (6-1, 4-1) at Maryland (5-2, 1-2)
WHEN: 3:30 on ESPN
WHERE: Byrd Stadium, College Park, Maryland

WHY MARYLAND MIGHT WIN: Clemson has a history of playing some of its worst football in College Park and letting Maryland stay in games or even win games that the Terps shouldn’t. For all of the injuries that Maryland has sustained, the game is still in Byrd Stadium, it is still Homecoming, and it is still the Terps last game against the Tigers as ACC rivals. For Maryland, without it’s starting quarterback, running back, both star wide receivers, linebacker, and safety, Saturday’s game is all about mental toughness. Can the Maryland defense force a couple of turnovers and score points to help the offense. A week ago, the Florida State Seminoles scored 24 points off of Clemson turnovers. If Maryland can do the same, Byrd stadium will have something to cheer about and the Terps can put more pressure on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. Despite the injuries that have riddled the Maryland football team, the defense is still only giving up 123.7 yards per game on the ground, good for 27th in the country and 2nd in the ACC. The Terps are also averaging 7.7 tackles for loss per game. If the defense can keep Clemson’s running game in check and force Boyd out of his comfort zone, the Terps can hang around and possibly pull out an upset late the fourth quarter.

WHY CLEMSON MIGHT WIN: For all of the struggles that the Clemson offense has endured over the last two and a half games, the quarterback is still Tajh Boyd who holds numerous Clemson records, the Tigers still have Sammy Watkins at wide receiver, they still have senior Roderick McDowell in the backfield, and they still have Brandon Thomas on the offensive line. All is not lost. The Clemson offense needs to get the confidence that they had against Georgia back, and it all starts with the running game. To be a dominant offense, you have to be able to run the football. The offensive line wants to run the football and McDowell wants to run the football. The Clemson defense, on the other hand, had been dominant up until last week when it seemed like nothing they tried, worked. Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe, isn’t a threat to run the ball leaving him vulnerable to Clemson defensive ends Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford. Without receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, the Clemson secondary’s job got a whole lot easier. If the Clemson defense can avoid giving up the big play, it will be a long day for the Terp offense.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Clemson has had problems establishing its ground game over the last several weeks, so the Tigers will come out and try to get the running game going early and take some pressure off of Boyd who has struggled with his consistency in the last two games. Expect Boyd to complete some short passes early on to get his confidence up and then hit the big play to give Clemson an early lead. With Rowe at quarterback, the Clemson defense won’t have to worry as much about keeping him in the pocket and can just pin their ears back and go after him because he doesn’t have the scrambling ability that Brown possesses. The Clemson offense will get back in its groove after struggling mightily a week ago and the defense will find the swagger that it lost against the Seminoles.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele.

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