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PREVIEW: West Virginia travels to College Park for the first time in seven years to take on the Maryland Terrapins

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The Mountaineers will reignite an old rivalry to kick off Neal Brown’s third season as head coach.

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Maryland v West Virginia Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

OPENING THOUGHTS

We’ve made it to what feels like the first real West Virginia football game week since 2019, and what better way to kick it off than by reigniting an old rivalry game? The Mountaineers will travel to College Park, Maryland this weekend to take on the Terrapins for the first time in six years, and it just feels right. There’s nothing like playing a regional rival to get fired up, and buddy we’ve needed this after the last year and a half.

If you’re traveling to the game, make sure you’re familiar with Maryland’s masking rules. As of today, fully vaccinated fans are not required to wear masks while in outdoor venues, but are encouraged to wear them in heavily crowded spaces and are required to wear a face-covering in any indoor area, including restrooms. Unvaccinated fans are required to wear a mask at all times.


WHEN/WHERE

Date: Saturday, September 4, 2021

Kickoff: 3:30PM ET

Where: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, College Park, Maryland

Tickets: General public


WATCH/LISTEN

Channel: ESPN | DirecTV 206, Dish 140

Online Streaming: WatchESPN, with a valid cable subscription

Cord Cutters: Mountaineer fans can catch all the action on fuboTV. fuboTV is an over-the-top streaming service that carries all the major networks, including CBS, NBC, FOX, and now....the ESPN Disney networks! It also carries ABC, CBS Sports Network, FS1, SEC Network, and more. fuboTV comes with a cloud DVR feature, so you can record the game and watch it later.

Sign up for a free seven day trial of fuboTV, and get 15% off the base family plan, by following THIS LINK.

Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates) | SiriusXM Channel 200 | WVU Gameday App (Apple | Android)

Radio Announcers: Tony Caridi (PBP), Dwight Wallace (analyst), and Jed Drenning (sideline)

Reminder: It is against site policy to post links to illegal streams in the comments.


DEGENERATES UNITE

West Virginia is currently favored by 2.5 points with an over/under set at 57.5 total points, according to VegasInsider. The line opened up with the Mountaineers favored by 4.5 points, meaning early bettors put enough bets in on Maryland +4.5 that Vegas adjusted the line down.

WEATHER FORECAST (as of Monday, 8/30)

High of 78 degrees under partly cloudy skies, with a light wind. Wear plenty of sunscreen if you’re going to be in the stadium. Maryland parks opposing fans in the upper deck of their stadium, and this is definitely one of those games where you go home looking like this if you don’t smother yourself in SPF 50+.


THE ENEMY

Where are they from? College Park, Maryland

All-time series record: West Virginia leads the all-time series with 28 wins, 22 losses and two ties.

Last game: West Virginia last played the Terps on September 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown. The Mountaineer offense, led by Skyler Howard, Wendell Smallwood and Shelton Gibson, put up 601 yards of total offense against Maryland that afternoon, rolling to an easy 45-6 win in front of 61,174 fans in attendance.

Head coach: Mike Locksley (3rd season) — overall record of 6-17 as head coach

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


KEYS TO THE GAME

  • CALM, COOL AND COLLECTED. Jarret Doege needs to not play outside himself, and just focus on managing the game. Let the offensive line and the run game do the heavy lifting. Don’t try to force the throws that aren’t there, as you’ll ultimately end up tiring out the defense when you continuously go three-and-out. This is where Skyler Howard excelled and how he delivered a 10-win season to West Virginia in 2016, and that’s where Doege can make hay.
  • ESTABLISH THE RUN. I know it’s become cliché, but it really is the most important thing to do if we want to keep the offense from being one dimensional. Leddie Brown has all the makings of a star and if the offensive line can create some openings for him this year, he should be poised for a breakout year. If Leddie (career average of 4.6 yards per carry) is able to successfully gain yards in chunks of four or five yards per attempt, that should take some of the pressure off of Doege and open up the passing game.
  • CATCH THE DAMN BALL. Other than Doege being wildly inconsistent at times last season, the biggest issue that plagued the Mountaineers in each of the last two seasons has been the sheer number of dropped passes. I know it’s something that the coaching staff has tried to make a point of emphasis, so I’m hoping it’s not a lingering issue that strikes us again on Saturday.
  • SCORE. In 14 of the last 15 matchups between these two teams, dating back to 2000, the winning team has scored 30 points or more. That appears to be the threshold, as in that same time frame, the losing team has only scored more than 30 points in one time. If West Virginia can put 35-38 points on the board on Saturday, they should cruise to victory.


HOW AFRAID SHOULD WE BE?

I’m entering this game cautiously optimistic but slightly afraid, solely because I really don’t know what to expect out of either team here. I really can’t base anything off of last season because of, well, everything. Maryland only played in five games last season, losing in three of those, and West Virginia obviously has a ton of questions of their own that will need to be answered. I’m going in expecting the best outcome, but mentally preparing for the worst.


PREDICTION THAT WILL BE WRONG

West Virginia gets out to a slow start, causing a good bit of anxiety to wash over the Mountaineer fanbase, but ultimately get it going in the second quarter. Jarret Doege looks more confident in his role as starting QB compared to last season and Leddie Brown begins his senior year with a star making performance on the ground. The Mountaineers pull away in the second half to start the season with the win.

West Virginia 35, Maryland 17