Greetings from College Park

November, 15, 2008
11/15/08
1:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

  

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Hello from Byrd Stadium, where it's hard to tell it's game day. Granted, I was here almost three hours early, but there are two teams in contention for the ACC championship game playing here today.

North Carolina is a disciplined road team, losing only to Virginia in overtime. Both teams, though, can still win their respective divisions. Here are a few keys to this game:

1. Turnovers. Rain is expected here today, and North Carolina is second in the league behind Wake Forest in turnover margin and is tied for nation's lead in interceptions. Maryland, namely running back Da'Rel Scott, will have to hang onto the ball today, and the Tar Heels will have to force poised quarterback Chris Turner into a few mistakes.

2. The running game. Scott isn't completely 100 percent, but he is still the second leading rusher in the ACC. Maryland's inability to run the ball last week against Virginia Tech combined with its inability to stop the run cost them the game and it could again. On the other side, North Carolina needs another standout performance from the duo of Ryan Houston and Sean Draughn.

3. Limit each other's big-play receivers. Hakeem Nicks and Darrius Heyward-Bey are two of the top receivers in the ACC, and both are capable of game-changing plays. In order to fluster Chris Turner, the Tar Heels will have to get past a line that has allowed a league-low five sacks this season.

4. Intangibles. Whichever team can forget about what's at stake and execute their assignments has the best chance of winning. Both teams are in must-win situations. Maryland has not lost at home.

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