Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

October 12, 2013

Rivals Maryland, Virginia gear up for final clash

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The border rivalry between Maryland and Virginia has never been a friendly one.

There’s no reason to believe the potential final installment will be any different.

Maryland’s move from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten next year means Saturday’s game at Byrd Stadium could be the last between the Terrapins and Cavaliers.

It will be the 78th meeting in a series that began in 1919 and has been held annually since 1957.

“Virginia is a rivalry game,” Terrapins guard De’Onte Arnett.

“We don’t like Virginia. That’s not a team we would befriend. It being the last game is something special, but we’re always looking to beat Virginia.”

Maryland has played Virginia more often than any football opponent. Coming off a 63-0 loss to Florida State, the Terrapins (4-1, 0-1) aren’t going to let sentiment get in the way of their bid to get back on track in the ACC.

“We’re looking forward to getting after it,” Maryland center Sal Conaboy said.

The Cavaliers (2-3, 0-1) are also on the rebound following losses to Pittsburgh and Ball State.

“This is probably the last time that Virginia plays Maryland, a school that has been a border rival where recruiting has been an issue between the two of us,” Virginia coach Mike London said. “Focusing on that is the most important thing right now.”

There’s a chance the teams could meet in nonconference play, although nothing like that is currently in the works.

“If it happens later on down the road, for the powers that be as far as the scheduling is concerned, then it happens,” London said. “But right now our seniors, juniors, first years, second years, third years, this will be the last time that they will play them.”

One of those players on that list is Khalek Shepherd, a junior tailback who went to Gwynn Park High School in Maryland.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet thing, being a Maryland guy, being around the Maryland team a lot growing up,” Shepherd said.

“It will just be fun to go out and play in front of my family and friends one more time so they don’t have to come all the way to Charlottesville.”

Here are five things to watch when Virginia plays Maryland on Saturday:

BROWN OUT?: Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is doubtful after receiving a concussion in the second quarter last week. The fifth-year senior has thrown for seven touchdowns and run for six. If Brown can’t play, Caleb Rowe will start. Rowe was 9 for 17 for 119 yards against Florida State. “I thought Caleb came in and executed a lot better than what I would have expected,” Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said.

RUNNING WILD: Virginia ran for 236 yards in its 48-27 loss to Ball State last week, and running back Kevin Parks already has 398 yards and five touchdowns. “Kevin’s done a nice job with his opportunities to run the ball,” coach Mike London said.  If Parks can keep it up, the Cavaliers have a good chance of winning. Virginia is 23-9 against Maryland since 1937 when gaining at least 150 yards on the ground.

DIGGS IN: Stefon Diggs remains Maryland’s most prolific performer, and Virginia knows all about the talented sophomore. Diggs took the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and had four catches for 89 yards last season in the Terrapins’ 27-20 win at Virginia. This year, Diggs has 20 catches for 424 yards and is averaging 21 yards on five kickoff returns. “Very explosive,” London said. “They find different ways to try to get the ball in his hand. He’s made the most of his opportunities up there at Maryland. “

REBOUND MODE: The winner of this game could be the one that finds a way to leave last week behind. Virginia needs to get over losing by three touchdowns at home against Ball State, and Maryland must recover from the disaster at FSU. “The way our schedule goes, it doesn’t allow it to linger because once we get out of the team meeting and the film review, we’re out on the practice field showing Virginia looks,” Locksley said. “We haven’t done much talking about the Florida State game.”

RIGHT AT HOME: The Cavaliers have won three straight at Maryland and eight of 12 since 1989. But the Terrapins are 3-0 at home this season, including their 37-0 rout of West Virginia in Baltimore.

 

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