Fear the turtle. It’s a phrase that Maryland fans around the nation say and believe as their mantra when it comes to Maryland Terrapins sports. However, it’s been quite some time since this phrase applied to their football team. However, Maryland has shot out to a 4-0 record, and has jumped up to #25 in the rankings. Their reward? A date against #8 Florida State in the Sunshine State on Saturday. Maryland is currently sitting at +16, and we are going to tell you why we think they will cover that spread.
Maryland doesn’t have a great track record against Florida State. Dating back to 1997, Maryland is 2-14 against the Seminoles, but it’s not as bad when you look at the spread. The Terrapins are 6-9-1 against the spread in those games, and more importantly, they are 5-3-1 ATS against Florida State in the last nine season.
However, it’s not the past matchups that give me confidence in Maryland this week. The team has looked incredibly impressive so far this year, dusting off FIU, Old Dominion, and Uconn before catching the nation’s attention with a shocking 37-0 beatdown of West Virginia. Not only that, but Maryland had a bye week last week, meaning that they have had two weeks to feel great about themselves, and they also have an extra week of preparation for the Seminoles. This advantage is huge in their potential to pull off the upset. When it comes to a double digit spread, that advantage is invaluable.
Randy Edsall Turning Things Around
It looks like Randy Edsall is finally turning his Maryland squad around. Edsall took over a sinking ship in 2011, and understandably struggled in his first two years, going 6-18. However, he has already come close to matching that win total this year alone with the 4-0 start, and the key has been the defense. Maryland is 3rd in the nation on defense, allowing a measly 10.3 points a game. Critics claimed that Maryland had simply played terrible teams to get that mark, but we already talked about how they put forth their best effort in their biggest game when they shutout West Virginia two weeks ago.
Although I’ve been raving about Maryland this whole time, I don’t think they will be winning this game. They are double digit underdogs for a reason. Florida State and their Heisman trophy candidate Quarterback Jameis Winston have been playing lights out themselves so far, and of course we can’t forget that this game is at Florida State.
Florida State Facing First Big Test
There are some red flags if you are a Seminoles fan. After cruising in their first three games, they unexpectedly struggled last week against Boston College. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 14-3 first quarter lead, and even though FSU dominated the second quarter, it was still a 24-17 halftime score in favor of the Seminoles. Florida State went on to win 48-34, but it was far from the dominant win that Seminole fans were expecting. Boston College was dominated 35-7 earlier in the year by USC, a loss that looks even worse after USC’s defensive debacle against Arizona State last week.
The phrase “something has to give” seems appropriate for this game. We’ve already mentioned that the Maryland defense is 3th in the nation. Well it just so happens that Florida State will be bringing in the 4th best scoring offense in the nation, averaging a whopping 51.3 points a game. I see both of these sides bending but not breaking. I would be shocked if Maryland shutdown FSU, holding them to under 17 points, just like I would be shocked to see Florida State run all over Maryland and put up another 50 point game.
I am fully confident that Maryland will stay within a couple touchdowns of Florida State all game long. This is the Seminoles’ first big test of the year, and I expect them to struggle a bit, especially in the first half, as such. The point spread line is at 57, which of course is right on the border for me, but right now I’m leaning towards the under. My guess is a low scoring first half with a medium scoring second half that sees Florida State stay undefeated, winning the game 30-21, but giving Maryland the spread win.