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Miami Maryland Spread Pick – College Football Week 1

The opening game of the 2011 college football season for two ACC title hopefuls kicks off this Monday evening September 5 (8:00pm ET) with embattled Miami Hurricanes (7-6 in 2010) of the ACC Atlantic division taking on the Maryland Terrapins (9-4 in 2010) of the ACC Coastal division in an early season conference matchup in College Park, MD. Both teams will feature new head coaches this season, with Randy Edsall taking over for Maryland and Al Golden stepping into the top job at Miami. The Hurricanes also have the controversy over the Nevin Shapiro extra benefits scandals hanging over their heads and eight players have been suspended for the game including quarterback Jacory Harris, defensive lineman Olivier Vernon, Adewale Ojomo and Marcus Forston, safety Ray-Ray Armstrong, tight end Dyron Dye, receiver Travis Benjamin and linebacker Sean Spence. Six of those players are starters for the Hurricanes.

Miami has had an unsettled situation at quarterback heading into fall practice with sophomore Stephen Morris and senior Jacory Harris, who has 24 career starts, battling it out for the starting job. Morris made his first collegiate start against Maryland last year while Harris was out with a concussion and threw for 286 yards, including the game-winning 35-yard TD pass with 37 seconds left in the game in a 26-20 victory for Miami. Maryland has experienced some trouble of its own with the NCAA, and self-reported violations have resulted in 2.5 hours a week of decreased practice time for a team installing new offensive and defensive systems under Edsall. The Terps return five starters on offense, including ACC Freshman of the Year Danny O’Brien at QB. Senior Ronnie Tyler and junior Kevin Doresy will be his top targets. The Terps are converting to a 4-3 defense, so a key to focus on is that their personnel do not have the requisite size for the system in Edsall’s first year.

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Miami vs. Maryland Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

Miami Hurricanes +4
@ Maryland Terrapins -4

Game Total:

Over 46.5 (-110)
Under 46.5 (-110)

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Miami vs. Maryland Pick:

QB Morris will need to step up in this game as well for the Hurricanes to have a shot on the road with so many of their key players out. In addition to the suspensions, OT Seantrel Henderson will be out of action after back surgery and WR Aldarius Johnson has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. The loss of Armstrong and Fortson, who are on the pre-season watch lists for the nation’s top defensive back and top lineman respectively, will hurt a ‘Canes defense that was solid a year ago allowing 20.7 PPG (27th in the nation) and ranked 3rd in the country allowing only 150.5 YPG passing. The Terps QB O’Brien, threw for 22 TDs and posted a 134.5 QB rating a year ago, good for 4th best in the ACC. Maryland returns seven starters return on defense, All-ACC performers in DT Joe Vellano and safety-turned linebacker Kenny Tate head the list. Their experience at the quarterback position and on defense will be the difference in this game.

Miami won the last meeting between the two teams on November 6 of 2010 by a score of 26-20 at Miami. The Hurricanes are 3-1 all-time against the Terrapins. The under is 6-1-1 in Miami’s last 8 games overall, while the over is 5-1-1 in Maryland’s last 7 games overall. Miami is 4-10 ATS in their last 14 conference games; while Maryland is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.

The Terrapins return a solid team from a year ago, and although they are transitioning to a new system and have had some turmoil of their own in the pre-season, it is nothing compared to the storm cloud swirling the Hurricanes (pun intended). Miami did beat the Terps last season with an inexperienced Morris under center, but that was at home and they were not missing six starters and breaking in a new system of their own. In that game Morris also had WR Leonard Hankerson (since departed to the NFL) as a security blanket. Miami does not have the running game to exploit Maryland’s biggest weakness, a lack of size upfront and the ‘Canes will be without key players in the secondary, at receiver and on the defensive line. Maryland with a talented young QB should be able to exploit the depleted Miami defense and put points on the board at home. In contrast, Miami’s young QB will struggle without the weapons he had at his disposal in last season’s meeting.

PICK = Maryland -4

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