Can the West Virginia Mountaineers overcome Maryland Terrapins?
These two programs may not produce highlight-reel games, but this looks to be a close game. This Week 1 matchup is important for both the Big 10 and Big 12 conferences entering the 2021 season.
With conference realignment leading the college football news cycle, any Power 5 matchups could be important down the road. Both teams are middle of the pack nationally, with the Mountaineers ranked 46th and Maryland ranked 65th in the FPI standings.
These two teams have one of the oldest rivalries in the country, dating back to 1919. West Virginia leads the all-time series with a 28-22-2 record over Maryland.
The two teams had different outcomes to end 2020. Maryland finished 2-3 in the Big 10-only schedule, while West Virginia earned a Liberty Bowl win after finishing 6-4 on the season. Both teams do not look to be conference contenders in 2021, between West Virginia needing to replenish talent and Maryland having several questionable personnel themselves.
Those do not affect how good this game can be though.
Both have similar talent levels with something to prove in 2021. For Maryland, starting junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa looks to turn the corner after throwing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020.
Any progress from him will certainly improve an offense that finished in the bottom half of the country for scoring, yards per game, and passing yards per game.
Maryland’s aerial attack will face a Mountaineers defense that led the nation in passing defense, allowing less than 160 passing yards per game in 2020. Even though West Virginia needs to replace several defensive starters, the defensive success of this team should not disappear overnight.
While Maryland will have the home-field advantage, the Mountaineers are betting and prediction favorites to win a close game. These two teams may not light up the scoreboard, but this matchup looks to be a competitive game in Week 1.