by Todd Helmick
September 12, 2006

This year’s meeting marks the 45th between the Terrapins and Mountaineers, a series which began in 1919. The all-time series record is currently deadlocked at 21-21-2.

Locally and for me personally, the Maryland-WVU match up represents the best of both worlds. Since I attend the spring games for both schools every year and obviously cover them for this site as well as other news sources, it should be no secret what the respective coaching staffs are attempting to accomplish, especially since neither of these current undefeated programs is likely to alter their X’s and O’s drastically this early.

Here are some keys for this Thursday ESPN prime time border rivalry.

A) The defense has to rise up in colossal fashion, which has not been the case in the first two games versus William & Mary and Middle Tennessee.

B) QB Sam Hollenbach (Hollen “boller” as some Baltimoreans will say) has to make some plays…a theme with which he has struggled. Handing it off all night might keep the total points scored on the low end, but that will not be enough to prevail once the final gun sounds.

C) Maryland must avoid offensive penalties, even the five-yard variety. 2nd- or 3rd-and-long will make for an uneventful evening.

D) Make QB Pat White beat you with his arm. This WVU spread offense is preordained on running the ball…really, if not checked, it’s all they seem to do (75% of the time to be exact) with grand results. UM defensive coordinator Chris Cosh has to envision the best game plan of his life. If White throws for 300+ yards, fine. Such an accomplishment would be a first.

A) Simple...just keep on doing that same mojo that you do so well. It’s elementary for Rich Rodriguez. See Steve Slaton run. See Steve Slaton score. Run Steve, Run. Use the QB draws. Run, Pat White, Run. Pound the middle with big 6-3, 250-pound RB Owen Schmidt – he has never lost a single yard when handed the ball (insane).

B) The defense should be well prepared for a grind-out power-game plan by Ralph Friedgen (now the offensive coordinator as well as head coach). Hollenbach's part of the equation in this offense will be kept at a minimum. It's all about the running backs and linemen for the Terrapin offense.

C) Never underestimate a rival, an overwhelming suspicion apparently quite prevalent on the south side of the Potomac.

WVU is currently ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. The Terrapins’ last road win over a Top 5 opponent was October 7, 1950, a 34-7 victory at Michigan State (there have been 17 attempts since then). As with any upset, the breaks need to go your way. The turnovers, especially, need to go your way. Special teams must not break down. Oh, yeah, and contain that vaunted Mountaineer rushing attack. Obviously, some things are easier said than done.