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Clemson Tigers vs. Maryland Terrapins Preview + Free Predictions

#8 Clemson Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) vs. Maryland Terrapins (2-3, 1-1 ACC)

For a long time now, the Clemson Tigers’ performance has not been where the expectations have been set. Finally, in 2011, the Tigers are producing results befitting of their talent-laden roster.

Byrd Stadium, College Park MD
Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:00 pm EST
NCAA Odds from Sportsbook.com:
MoneyLine: Clemson -345, Maryland +269
Spread: Clemson -8, Maryland +8
Over/Under: 54

A potential goat at the beginning of the season, head coach Dabo Swinney now looks like a hero, as Clemson is unbeaten and at the top of the heap in the ACC.

The Tigers are performing well in all aspects of the game, most notably, new starting QB Tajh Boyd has been a revelation for the Purple and Orange. The sophomore from Hampton, VA, is playing beyond his years en route to 1,742 pass yards, a 15-2 TD/INT ratio plus 120 yards and three TDs on the ground. Boyd has been bothered somewhat with a hip injury, but he should be ready to go for the Maryland game. Freshman WR Sammy Watkins is having a phenomenal coming-out party of his own, with 38 receptions for 623 yards and six majors. The RB duo of Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy is also deadly.

Clemson has knocked off three consecutive ranked opponents in Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech. By all accounts, the Tigers have looked great doing so. The Terps, on the other hand, have been very up and down. Maryland scored a nice win over Miami in Week One, but has also been crushed 38-7 by non-AQ conference foe Temple. Starting pivot Danny O’Brien is suffering through a bit of a sophomore slump in 2011, having not yet cracked 1,000 yards passing and throwing only four TDs to six picks. Confident, consistent play from O’Brien was a pre-requisite for Maryland having a strong season – the Terps haven’t been getting it thus far. Scrambling backup QB C.J. Brown has been electric, averaging over 10 yards per carry, but it hasn’t been enough of a wrinkle (Brown only has 11 carries on the year) to make Maryland’s offense dangerous. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

To give credit where it is due, the Terps did a good job in a losing effort last week, in terms of slowing down the usually prolific Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets’ offense. Holding the Jackets to only three touchdowns was actually an accomplishment. For Maryland to get the home win this Saturday night, the Terps “D” will have to pitch another similar effort versus a red-hot Boyd and a fast Clemson offense.

Clemson also has its characteristic speed on defense, so if the Maryland O-line doesn’t do a good job of shoring up the pass protection, O’Brien could certainly have happy feet in the pocket. For Maryland’s part, they must deal with attrition on defense, with key contributors like SS Matt Robinson, LB Kenny Tate, DE Isaiah Ross and DL Justin Anderson on the shelf.

Considering how both these teams have performed and the barrage of ailments that Maryland is facing, it is kind of surprising that the Tigers are only eight-point favorites. It almost seems like the betting world is waiting for the other shoe to drop with Clemson, like it has for many years previous. But if Clemson can keep playing anything like it has been to this point, the rabid fans in South Carolina’s version of “Death Valley” might truly see an elite ACC program for the duration.

Maryland has the advantage of playing at home, but pretty much everything else breaks Clemson’s way. Look for the Tigers to grab a road victory.

Score Prediction: Clemson 33, Maryland 16
Over/Under Prediction: 49

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