It's homecoming for Clemson. If the Tigers win they break the school record for consecutive wins at home at 12.
Maryland will be the best defense Clemson has played against since Florida State. Having said that its a monumental mismatch for Maryland. Clemson has more and deeper talent, better coaching and they are at home.
In 2011, Clemson narrowly escaped with a road victory over Maryland largely on the back of a breakout performance by Sammy Watkins, who scored three times in the second half to propel the Tigers to a victory. Clemson needed everything it could muster in that 56-45 win, as Maryland's quarterback CJ Brown carved the Clemson defense up to the tune of 162 rushing yards and another 177 through the air.
This season's contest in Death Valley figured to be another hard-fought contest among these two bitter ACC rivals. However, the injury bug has hit Maryland in a big way going all the way back to the summer. CJ Brown was set to return at quarterback, but he suffered a season ending knee injury in August. Remarkably, three other quarterbacks have also gone down since then with season ending injuries of their own, leaving converted freshman linebacker Shawn Petty set to start at quarterback for the second straight week.
The injuries aren't just confined to quarterback, as the Terps lost their best defensive player (Linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield) and star receiver/returner Stafon Diggs within the last two weeks.
What this all amounts to is a severely depleted Maryland team that enters Death Valley this week just trying to keep the game competitive. The Terrapins can play a little defense, and rank 11th in total defense nationally. But defense is just part of the equation, and with an offense barely scratching out 19 points a game on average, Maryland simply won't be able to score enough, especially with Diggs on the pine.
Clemson vs Maryland prediction
It’s been a tough season for the Terrapins. In the offseason, quarterback Danny O’Brien transferred to Wisconsin. Last year’s starter C.J. Brown was lost before the season to a torn ACL. Freshman Perry Hills started the season under center, but was lost for the season when he suffered a torn ACL versus North Carolina State. Devin Burns came in to replace Hills, and promptly tore his ACL versus the Wolfpack as well. In came freshman Caleb Rowe; who promptly tore his ACL versus Boston College. With the loss of 5 quarterbacks (every QB on the UMD roster), the Terrapins turned to freshman linebacker Shawn Petty.
With Petty’s inexperience under center last week versus Georgia Tech, Maryland turned to the run with a 44/18 run/pass ratio. When Maryland did attempt to ‘air it out’, the passing game consisted of short passes, with a few intermediate passes worked in. Expect Maryland to do more of the same this week versus the Tigers. The main threat to the Tigers will be Petty’s number one weapon in the passing game, Stefon Diggs. Diggs is an ultra talented freshman who has the ability to make plays in both the passing game and the return game. Diggs and Petty did begin to build some chemistry as the twoconnected last week for a 24-yard TD.
Clemson is coming off of an impressive, and well-balanced offensive performance versus Duke. The Clemson offense gained 379 yards passing and 339 yards rushing; and scored 52 points; making it 8 games in a row that the Tigers have scored at least 38 points. Running back Andre Ellington is expected to play; which will certainly be welcomed home run threat in the Tiger backfield. The Tiger defense answered the call again last week, and only allowed 51 second half rushing yards to the Blue Devils.
When these teams take the field Saturday, it will be clear that the better athletes reside on the Clemson sideline. Maryland does not have a secondary capable of containing both Sammy Watkins and ‘Nuke’ Hopkins. Clemson wins easily and breaks the home win streak record of 12.
Clemson 45, Maryland 13
Chad Morris said it best during the weekly press conference when he said he is only focusing only Maryland's defense, as he should be. The Terrapins have one of the best defenses in the ACC, but their offense... well, to say they struggle is an understatement.
They're on their fourth quarterback of the year, and have had trouble moving the ball against the better teams on their schedule this season.
Clemson's offense is simply too much for the Terrapins, and the Tigers go up big in this one in the first half, 31-7. In the second half, as Clemson rests their starters, the Terps mount a comeback, but at that point, the game will already be over.