Big Ten Football: Maryland vs Virginia Preview, Prediction

For the second week in a row, Big Ten football will be televised across the nation this Friday night.

Coach Mike Locksley and the Maryland Terrapins will host the Virginia Cavaliers in College Park at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).

This game marks the beginning of a series of six different matchups between the Big Ten and ACC during Week 3 of the college football season.

This matchup between the Big Ten and ACC carries a significant personal dimension. The Maryland Terrapins, founding members of the ACC in 1952, remained part of the conference until 2014. With 78 previous football encounters between Maryland and Virginia, Maryland leads the all-time series at 44-32-2. This game marks their first meeting since 2013, coinciding with Maryland’s departure from the ACC.

Maryland enters the game with an impressive 2-0 record, securing victories against Towson and Charlotte with scores of 38-6 and 38-20, respectively. The Terrapins had high expectations for the 2023 season, particularly with star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa’s return, who led the team to an 8-5 record in 2022. Despite facing an early 14-0 deficit against Charlotte, Tagovailoa has already amassed 547 passing yards in just two games, both resulting in convincing wins.

In contrast, the start of the season has been far from smooth for the Virginia Cavaliers. Head Coach Tony Elliott and his team began the season with a challenging 49-13 loss to the No. 12-ranked Tennessee team. The challenges persisted in Week 2, as UVA suffered a 36-35 defeat to James Madison, a formidable in-state Group of 5 opponent. While James Madison recently moved up to the FBS level and is considered one of the Sun Belt’s top teams, the Cavaliers’ 0-2 start, including a significant loss and a home defeat to an in-state rival, has been a tough pill to swallow.

Unlike Maryland, Virginia’s 2023 season was met with modest expectations. The team struggled to a 3-7 record in 2022, and the departure of the long-time veteran quarterback Brennan Armstrong to ACC rival N.C. State during the offseason added to the challenges they faced.

Nonetheless, the quarterback position could potentially stand out as one of the few positives for UVA, with true freshman Anthony Colandrea securing the starting role heading into Week 3.

In his inaugural college-level start, Colandrea completed 20 out of 26 passes, amassing 377 yards and delivering two touchdowns. It’s important to note that this is just one game, and Maryland’s secondary is likely to present a more substantial challenge compared to James Madison’s. Nonetheless, it’s undeniably impressive to witness such performance from a quarterback who hasn’t even completed a full calendar year on campus.

Nevertheless, come Friday night, the Terps should still maintain the advantage in the most critical position in the sport. Tagovailoa boasts an impressive career, having thrown for 8,526 yards and 56 touchdowns during his five-year journey at both Alabama and Maryland.

Locksley’s squad also boasts a formidable partner in the backfield for Tagovailoa in the form of running back Roman Hemby. Following a remarkable 989-yard campaign as a sophomore in 2022, Hemby has already accumulated 220 yards and notched two touchdowns in the first two weeks of the 2023 season, boasting an impressive average of 7.1 yards per carry.

When you look at the odds, they align with expectations. An undefeated Big Ten team is squaring off against an ACC team that’s currently near the bottom of the standings. Maryland is a clear 14.5-point favorite over Virginia for Friday night’s matchup, with the over/under set at 47.5 points.

While it’s exciting for Coach Elliott and Virginia to have discovered a promising young quarterback in Colandrea, it’s a challenging prospect to bet on the Cavaliers pulling off an upset at SECU Stadium. Their defense currently allows an average of 42.5 points per game, and they’ll be facing an offense that has consistently put up 38 points in consecutive weeks.

In all likelihood, this Friday night should see a comfortable victory for Locksley, Tagovailoa, and the Maryland Terrapins in front of their home crowd.

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