The Maryland Terrapins open the conference portion or their schedule when they welcome a Coastal division opponent, in the Duke Blue Devils, on Saturday eveningat Bryd Stadium.  The Terps hope to follow up a solid win against Florida International with another explosive performance on offense and this is a great opportunity to get off to a fast start.  If Maryland has any hopes of going to a bowl game, they need this game.  After Duke, Maryland will face seven more ACC opponents, against whom they may only be favored in one of those games.  Duke is also a welcome sight in College Park, as they are off to a disappointing start.  I know it is hard to believe that a Duke football team could be disappointing, but the expectations for the football program in Durham have been growing.

 Duke struggles tremendously on defense having been torched for 54,62 and 35 points in the last three weeks.  Maryland established some offensive versatility last week with Danny O’Brien at QB.  The Terps also were explosive on offense and special teams, scoring on plays of 85, 56, 68 and 76 yards.  The big plays are great, but the Terps need to help out the defense by possessing the ball for more time.  Maryland only had the ball for 26 minutes against FIU.  If the offense can keep the ball away from Duke for around 35 minutes they will go a long way in protecting a suspect defense.  Maryland also will have to contend with a slightly less than healthy Torrey Smith.  Smith is the Terps biggest receiving threat and primary kick returner.  I think Tony Logan can fill in on kick returns quite well and the Terps should have enough talent at receiver to give Duke trouble.  If the Terps do have trouble through the air they should be able to move the ball on the ground.  Maryland’s top two rushers, Da’Rell Scott and Davin Meggett, are averaging 5.6 and 8.1 yards per carry respectively.  If the Terps play the way they are capable, a 35 to 40 point game is not out of the question.

Defensively, the outlook is not so positive.  While Maryland is only allowing 19 points per game, that total is somewhat skewed when you consider their opponents so far and how well both FLU and West Virginia moved the Ball against the Terps.  Maryland allowed FIU to convert 12 of 21 3rd downs on their way to 472 total yards.  Duke, so far, has not proven to be a powerhouse on offense.  But they did put up 48 on Wake Forest and in QB Sean Renfree they have a capable signal caller.  Why does Maryland struggle so much on defense?  There are many reasons, but primarily I point to their lack of play makers on the defensive line and their poor tackling.  To slow down Duke, Maryland will have to improve one of those areas.  The most likely area for improvement is tackling.  Good tackling, for Maryland, can be as simple as making the plays they are capable of .  Maryland does not need to get a ton of pressure on opposing QB’s or fly around like ball hawks in the secondary.  They simply need to be solid and make fundamental plays.

I expect the Terps to win this game.  They still have more talent then Duke and in Danny O’Brien they have a QB capable of keeping defenses honest.  The game could be a bit of a shoot-out, but I think the Terps win by 10 or more at home.