Texas Longhorns vs. Maryland Terrapins Pick
Texas Longhorns (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Maryland Terrapins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 1st 2018 –12:00 PM ET
Where: FedEx Field – Andover, Maryland
By: Keith Franks , NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Texas -14 / Maryland +14
Over/Under Total: 54
The Texas Longhorns and the Maryland Terrapins will square off in a Big 12 vs. B1G clash of Power Five opponents to commence opening weekend activities. The Terps and the Horns will meet at FedEx Field in Andover, Maryland the home of the Washington Redskins. The time is set for a kick off time of noon and will be televised on FOX. Last year, Maryland and Texas met in what was nothing short of a classic. As an 18-point underdog the Terps would storm into Austin and hand Bevo and company a loss in what was characterized as a stunning upset. The Terrapins would go up by as much as 16 points before the Horns would storm back and draw within a field goal of their opposition. In the final outcome, Maryland would notch a 51-41 victory.
Under the third year of skipper D.J Durkin, the Terps had what had to be classed as a disenchanting season. After starting off 3-1, including the aforementioned win in Austin, the Terrapins would win just one more game for the rest of the season against Indiana. The Terrapins finished with just two conference victories and needless to say the seat under Coach Durkin is starting to heat up.
When many think of Maryland, they think of checkerboard shorts and March Madness not the gridiron. Such biases often afford teams like Maryland to take back inflated point spreads because they are no longer “staying in their lane”. Nevertheless, despite the attrition that Maryland has suffered in wins and losses, many have heralded their head coach as one of the brightest minds in college football. The key for Maryland will be getting their defense under control as they surrendered 37.1 points per game in 2017. The good news is that defense is Durkin’s forte as he engineered several prolific Florida Gator defenses before taking the Maryland gig.
Texas finished with a 7-6 record earning a Texas Bowl victory against Missouri of 33-16. With this being considered, the Burnt Orange have a lot of optimism moving into 2018. This enthusiasm has been contagious as many have declared Texas as the number two team in the Big 12 race behind the arch nemesis Oklahoma, who gets FAU on Sat. It is very likely that Red River Showdown will be instrumental in the championship race and given the fact Texas had Oklahoma on the ropes last year, you can rest assured that the date is circled on their calendar.
Before he came to Austin, Tom Herman architected a Houston Cougars team to do the unthinkable. The Cougars were known as a bottom-feeder in the American but Tom Herman changed that when he empowered UH to win an American Athletic Conference Championship and a Peach Bowl victory over Florida State in 2015. Houston would follow this up with an upset victory over Oklahoma to open the 2016 season. Long story short, Herman knows how to foster teams to succeed and punch above their weight. Thus his hiring in Austin has created a lot of hoop-la that Texas football can be on its way back to prominence.
Comparing and contrasting the legacies of the Terps and Horns is enough to entice casual fans to take Texas by virtue of namesake alone. When you incorporate the revenge angle that Texas will be working with in this contest, the Horns seem like a savory play to many. As a result of both these philosophies, we have seen heavy steam roll in on the Hook Em’s. With such a heavy lean by the public on Texas (over 90% of the ticket and cash action on UT), Maryland could be an undervalued and potentially live dog. Most importantly the Terps are now getting two TDs after the line sat at 13.5 and the top sportsbooks.
With the media machine and the hype that surrounds Texas, they make a prime fade target in this opening contest. Texas’ defense is undoubtedly one of the best in the country but their offense remains a bit of mystery. Inconsistency undermined the Longhorns in several key match-ups in 2017. The question is whether the battery of Sam Ehlinger and Keaontay Ingram can get it done against this perceived porous Maryland defense or will the expectations get the best of them? Despite all of the emphasis on Texas, Maryland has the emotional edge and a two-TD buffer in this contest. They know they can beat this Texas bunch as they did a season ago.