Can the Orange focus on this Saturday with Clemson up next?
Maryland and Syracuse are both 1-0 entering this matchup although they each did it in a different fashion. There's some history between these two schools, but they only played once as ACC members back in 2013. Syracuse won that one 20-3, extending the win streak to five in the series before the Terrapins got them the next season.
If you looked at just the score, you'd think that Syracuse had no problems against Liberty beating them 24-0. Digging into the contest, the passing game didn't work but the run game saved their bacon. Defensively, they swarmed Flames quarterback Buckshot Calvert, sacking him eight times and intercepting him twice. Remember, before the season Orange head coach Dino Babers said that this team will go as their defense goes and for one week, he's exactly right.
On the other side, you've got Maryland who beat FCS opponent Howard 79-0 in a game that saw them outgain the Bison 623-68. It was a real feel-good afternoon for the Terps who aren't expected to be that good come Big Ten play. The biggest "advantage" the home team has in this one is that the road team has one eye looking ahead to next week when Syracuse hosts Clemson in a game that will get a ton of attention.
Syracuse at Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 7 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Maryland -2.5
When Syracuse Has the Ball
Tommy DeVito looked really shaky last week against Liberty and he can get away with that against the Flames. He probably won't be able to do the same against Maryland. DeVito went 17-for-35 for 176 yards and threw two interceptions. Eight different players recorded a tach for the Orange, but there was also some frustration as either they ran the wrong route or the signal-caller misread the defense.
The Syracuse run game was fantastic though even against some stacked boxes. They racked up nearly 200 yards on the ground averaging a shade over four yards per carry in the process. Moe Neal and Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams accounted for 138 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns. It's really hard to comment on Maryland's rush defense because the Terrapins held an FCS team to a net total of one rushing yard. This after surrendering 184 rushing yards per game last season. The Terps didn't get a ton of pressure on their opponents last year either, registering just 18 sacks in 12 games (tied for 114th nationally).
When Maryland Has the Ball
It's hard to find anything wrong with Maryland's offensive effort in the win over Howard. New starting quarterback Josh Jackson was efficient with four touchdown passes in his 24 attempts (15 completions). The former Virginia Tech signal-caller has plenty of talent and was a big-time pickup for new head coach Mike Locksley this offseason. Having watched a lot of Tech games in the past, I really like what the kid can do. The Terrapins did a lot of their damage on the ground with five touchdowns from four different players. Anthony McFarland Jr. had two early touchdowns before giving way to others. Juniors Jake Funk and Tayon Fleet-Davis led the way with 79 rushing yards each. Maryland finished with 317 yards on the ground and a healthy 6.6 yards per carry average.
On the other side, Syracuse bent on defense the first couple of drives but held Liberty off the scoreboard because of turnovers and a missed field goal. The Orange collected eight sacks with Josh Black and Kendall Coleman accounting for two apiece. With Clemson graduating their defensive line to the NFL, Syracuse is widely believed to have the best front four in the ACC now. Last year, Maryland allowed 30 sacks and have just five guys along their offensive line with starting experience. With this one being on the road, Syracuse has to cause some turnovers to increase its chances of winning.
As mentioned earlier, it's going to be really hard for Syracuse to be focused and ready for this one. The country is already talking about the Clemson game and despite saying and doing all the right things, it's a huge concern. The gambling world has taken this line from Syracuse -2.5 to Maryland -2.5. Still, I don't believe in Maryland. Last year the Terrapins lost to Temple, Michigan State and Ohio State at home. I think the Cuse gets this one after sharpening up on some of the things that went wrong last week.
Prediction: Syracuse 27, Maryland 23
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.