Thursday, November 10, 2011
Notre Dame Prediction: Week 11 vs. Maryland
By Matt Fortuna
And you thought Notre Dame's transition under Brian Kelly had its rough patches in the locker room? Look at the Irish's opponent this Saturday.
Maryland, in its first year under Randy Edsall, is 2-7 (1-5 in ACC play) and has been plagued by injuries. In these very candid interviews with The Washington Post, kicker Nick Ferrara and receiver Kevin Dorsey hint at the current division within the team, one that does not break the nation's top-60 units among any offensive, defensive or special-teams categories.
Five of the Terrapins' seven losses have been by double-digits, including their last four (they're currently on a five-game losing streak). And they have beaten just one FBS team, back in their season opener against Miami.
Maryland plays two quarterbacks, with C.J. Brown showing the mobility that brings to mind past Irish opponents such as B.J. Daniels or Denard Robinson. If nothing else, the Notre Dame defense will be kept honest, especially early.
But the Terrapins have been banged-up on defense all season long, particularly at linebacker. Look for Notre Dame to once again expose their opponent's rushing defense, as Maryland ranks last in the conference, surrendering more than 233 yards on the ground per game.
There's one silver lining for Maryland, and one that will certainly make the most cynical of Notre Dame fans uncomfortable. (You see where I'm going with this, right?) Maryland has forced 23 turnovers, tied for ninth most in the nation.
Really, the only thing standing between Notre Dame and a sure victory is itself. And, yes, even the Irish could afford a few slip-ups this week. They are that much better than Maryland.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Maryland 10