Miami Hurricanes vs. Maryland Terrapins Point Spread – Pick ATS

Miami Hurricanes (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) at Maryland Terrapins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Monday September 5th, 2011, 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 1
Byrd Stadium College Park, Maryland

By Jay Horne, NCAA Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: Mia -5.5/MD +5.5
Over/Under Total: 48

ACC action gets kicked off with a bang with the Maryland Terrapins host the Miami Hurricanes for some Monday Night Football on the college gridiron. Interestingly both teams are experiencing major coaching changes in attempt to overcome previous years of mediocrity. While Miami attempts to get back to the top of the ACC on the field, it is the off the field troubles that are making headlines. The Hurricanes are facing dire threats of major NCAA violations and the “death penalty” talk has even been thrown out as a possible disciplinary option. Evidently players were involved in improper benefits on the recruiting front from a Hurricanes sponsor from 2002 to 2010. If those allegations become true, Miami could face critical violations that could possibly take many years to overcome.

While all of the off field propaganda continues to play out, the Hurricanes have to try and place their focus on the playing field and the 2011 college football season. First year Head Coach Al Golden has the unpleasant task of dealing with all the negative attention. Golden who previously coached at Temple, takes on the duties of building the Hurricanes back into a national power. Luckily for the Hurricanes, there is a lot of talent that has been left for Golden to work with. Senior QB Jacory Harris will have the luxury of sharing the passing game with a veteran group of wide receivers. Harris has battled inconsistency issues throughout his career in Miami, but is looking to turn the corner. Harris completed just 54% passing for 1,793 yards with 14 touchdowns and 15 picks in 2010. Coach Golden will work extensively with Harris in attempt to make him a better decision maker in attempt to maintain some type of ball security this season.

If Harris can keep it together, the receivers have a tremendous amount of talent on the outside. Wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Laron Byrd both caught over 40 passes last season. Benjamin had a team high 17.6 yards per catch and has proved he can be a deep ball threat. Outside the passing game, one of the concerns for the offense will be at the tailback position. Sophomore Lamar Miller carried the ball 108 times for 646 yards and 6 touchdowns in his freshman campaign. This season Miller will be the feature back and play a much bigger role in the offense. Normally Al Golden likes to run the football to setup the passing game, which means Miller will have to find success as an ‘every down’ tailback.

On the other side of the field, the Terrapins return 14 starters from a group that went 9-4 in 2010. Former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall will now attempt to get the Terrapins to the next level and compete for an ACC Championship. Sophomore QB Danny O’Brien is coming off a strong freshman season where he passed for 2,438 yards with 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. With another spring under his belt, O’Brien should be even better in 2011. The big concern is who will step up to catch the football? The offense lost leading receivers Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon. Coming out of fall practice, the Terrapins are still searching for a go to threat in the passing game. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if any upcoming talent emerges into a big play threat in some of the upcoming games.

If those types of concerns are not answered in the passing game, the Terrapins will still have the ability to move the ball on the ground. Senior tailback Davin Meggett returns after leading the team in rushing last season with 720 yards and 4 touchdowns. Coach Edsall is well known for running the football and developing strong rushing teams. Therefore, Meggett may become a featured proponent in the new offense in College Park.

Ultimately, this game will be won by the offense that can be effective right out of the gates. Neither defense is extremely dominant. However, both defenses are decent groups that will play solid. Both offenses have a good amount of talent to work with despite some lingering concerns on both ends. Therefore, it will be interesting to see which offense has the upper hand when the two collide for the first Monday Night game of the upcoming season.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Maryland Terrapins +5.5.

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