The non-conference match-ups for week 4 of the 2013 season are somewhat less than scintillating, an exception is the Big 12- ACC pairing, and border rivalry game featuring the West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1, 1-2 ATS) taking on the undefeated Maryland Terrapins (3-0, 3-0 ATS) Saturday afternoon (3:30pm ET) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. West Virginia sandwiched a week 2 loss at Oklahoma by a score of 16-7 with an opening 24-17 squeaker over William & Mary and a 41-7 romp over Georgia State last week. Maryland has been dominant in all 3 of its victories this season, and opened with a 43-10 demolition over Florida International, destroyed Old Dominion 47-10 in week 2 and handled Connecticut 32-21 on the road last week.
West Virginia does not have the explosive offensive unit with stars Geno Smith and Tavon Austin that they possessed last season, when they combined for 3 TDs and 179 of Smith’s 338 passing yards in a 31-21 win in Morgantown, WV. Junior QB Paul Millard (455 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT) was in charge directing the Mountaineer attack, but redshirt freshman quarterback Ford Childress will be making his second collegiate start on Saturday. The running game with senior running back Charles Sims (293 yards rushing, 2 TDs) will be relied on heavily with an inexperienced QB under center. The WVU defense ranks 8th nationally in passing yards allowed (136.7 YPG) in the early going this year, a huge improvement over their dreadful performance last season.
Maryland dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown has thrown for 833 yards with 6 TDs and 1 INT so far this season, and he has also run for over 100 yards in two games so far this season (including 122 last week against UConn) while finding the end zone 5 times on ground. The Terrapins put up over 500 yards of total offense last week against UConn, but they had to overcome 3 turnovers to earn the victory. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is a big play threat for the Terrapins, averaging 24.2 yards per reception. Running back Brandon Ross leads Maryland in rushing with 265 yards on 46 carries. The Maryland defense allowed 383 total yards against the Huskies, and ranks 17th nationally in total defense with 296.3 YPG allowed and 19th in scoring defense with 13.6 PPG allowed.
West Virginia vs. Maryland Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
West Virginia Mountaineers +6
@Maryland Terrapins -6
Over 52.5 (-110)
Under 52.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
West Virginia vs. Maryland Pick
The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 26-21-2 and has a 7 game winning streak against the Terrapins. WVU is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games, and Maryland is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games.
Childress threw three touchdown passes in his first start against Georgia State and completed 25-of-41 passes for 359 yards, but he will be facing tougher competition on Saturday, a bettor cannot be very confident wagering on a greenhorn at the most important position on the field. Maryland’s Marcus Whitfield, who leads the nation in sacks with 5.5, should take advantage of that inexperience and have a big day against the Mountaineers with their spread offense often sacrificing blocking numbers for extra receivers and Childress, at 6-foot-5 and 234 lbs., not a mobile QB. Diggs, who had 113 yards receiving and 2 TDs against West Virginia last season, should combine with C.J. Brown to have another big day and add to his 387 receiving yards on the year (6th most in the nation).
West Virginia has been improved against the pass this season, but they have not faced a passing attack the caliber of Maryland’s, and they were among the worst defensive backfields in the nation last season. The Mountaineers are also vulnerable against the run ranking 88th among FBS teams with 184.7 YPG allowed, and Maryland has the weapons to exploit this advantage with Brown’s running ability aiding an offense that ranks 21st in the nation with 262.3 YPG rushing.
The Terrapins have multiple key factors working in their favor in this game, as Maryland is 3-0 ATS this season and has a favorable home match-up against an inexperienced quarterback making his first start against an AQ conference opponent. The line has come down some, and Maryland at -5 or better is a good play here. Take the Terrapins to cover in this one.