Clemson vs Maryland Prediction


by - Senior Writer -
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Last week’s prediction went floating downstream in the rain storm that drenched Death Valley, short-circuited by the weather and a tough TCU team that held on for a 14-10 victory over Clemson. I predicted a game in which Clemson would get ahead and then hold on for dear life, but the roles were reversed in real life as TCU held off two late Clemson drives to pick up the win. This week, the Picking Machine doesn’t care about the weather, or any possible ran up in College Park, MD, for the Tigers and the Terps. Maryland has proven that they can take less talent and beat the Tigers, and despite a 1-3 start, will be primed to open their ACC schedule with a win over Dabo Swinney and the crowd in orange. I’m not gonna pull a James Davis and guarantee a win over the Turtles, simply because I don’t wanna jinx them. So we’ll do it the old-fashioned way.


Clemson at Maryland


When Clemson Has the Ball


The Maryland defense, in a nutshell, has been unable to stop anybody. Even FCS foe James Madison put up points on this defense. However, the Clemson offense has also been struggling to find consistency since the second half of the Georgia Tech game. The Tigers opened up the third quarter against Georgia Tech with two touchdowns, but have been able to score only one offensive touchdown in the nine quarters since then. If they want to make a serious run in the ACC, the offense has to get better, and other weapons have to be found. Maybe, just maybe, the Maryland defense provides the tonic for quarterback Kyle Parker and a young group of receivers. Someone has to step – whether it is Jaron Brown or Xavier Dye or Marquan Jones, and provide Clemson a threat other than C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford. Look for Clemson to try and the ball downfield early, knowing they have the running of Spiller and gang in their back pocket if they need them. A few early scores would take the pressure off of Parker, and might go a long way to establishing some confidence for the rest of the season. The Maryland defense has not held anyone under 32 points this season – and they won’t start now.


ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON


When Maryland Has the Ball


As bad as the Maryland defense has been, perhaps the best chance the Terps have of pulling this one out is if they simply outscore the Tigers. They have play makers in running back Da’Rel Scott, quarterback Chris Turner, and wide receiver Torrey Smith, who has been putting up Spiller-like all-purpose numbers so far this season. However, Turner has already thrown five interceptions as part of a league-high 13 turnovers for Friedgen’s team. The Clemson defense has proven stingy at time, and with a quarterback who has been making less-than-stellar decisions, it could open the door for Clemson’s talented defensive line to wreak havoc in the Maryland backfield. If Turner gets anxious, Clemson’s secondary will be ready to pounce on any errant throws. Look for Maryland to try and control the clock early in the game and take advantage of Clemson’s run defense. IF Maryland can find success running the football AND controlling the clock while hitting the underneath passing routes, they have a shot.


ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON


Special Teams


The Clemson special teams took a lateral step last week, if not a small step backwar. TCU consistently kicked away from Spiller and Ford in punting situations, and kicker Richard Jackson missed a second half field goal that could have changed the strategy of the Clemson coaching staff later in the game had he made it. However, punter Dawson Zimmerman was his usual stellar self, even in the rain. Friedgen has already mentioned that he knows how dangerous Spiller and Ford can be, so look for the Terps to follow TCU’s game plan and keep the ball away from Clemson’s playmakers. The Terps have an explosive playmaker in Smith, who can change a game in a heartbeat. One interesting note on Maryland is that they have not had a punt blocked in 115 games, the longest current streak in the nation.


ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON


Coaching


Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen always seems to come up with ways to either torment or beat the Tigers, and with his back against the wall after a 1-3 start, look for him to try and throw the book at the Tigers. However, his coaching staff has been dysfunctional since Maryland named offensive coordinator James Franklin as Friedgen’s successor. Clemson, on the other hand, has become more physical under head coach Dabo Swinney, and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is quickly proving why he is one of the best in the game.


ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON


BOTTOM LINE


This is the type of game Clemson needs at this point in the season. Not a push-over team, but a team that they should beat handily IF they play the way they are capable of playing. Maryland begins ACC play with this contest, and wants to make sure they make a statement by beating the Tigers for the second consecutive season. Look for Maryland to keep it close early, feeding off their home crowd, but the Tigers’ explosive play-makers will start making the difference as the game wears on. And one of the young receivers will have their first outstanding game and help lay to rest, at least for two weeks [the Tigers have a bye week next week], the concerns over the Clemson offense.


THE PICK


CLEMSON 33, MARYLAND 10

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