November 8, 2007

Terps-Eagles preview

Maryland's 2007 football season has featured memorable highs, crushing losses and a seemingly never-ending stream of injuries, leaving the Terps to face No. 8 Boston College in their Byrd Stadium finale with a sense of desperation that extends beyond Senior Day.

The phrase "must win" is more cliché than reality in most cases, but with three consecutive losses and a record of 4-5, any realistic chance the Terps have of playing in a bowl are facing extinction with a loss. To extend its post-season dreams, Maryland must beat a team that has been the ACC's best through the first two-thirds of the season.

The Series: BC leads 3-1, including a pair of wins, each by at least 15 points, the past two seasons.

What You Need To Know About Boston College

The Eagles had their national championship dreams dashed in last weekend's 27-17 home loss to Florida State but remain in control of the Atlantic Division.

Any discussion of Boston College starts with quarterback Matt Ryan, one of the nation's best. Ryan, who has a 22-5 record as a starter, is averaging 316 yards per game passing, the seventh best figure in the nation. The senior has prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and has full control of the Eagles' pass-happy attack.

Ryan struggled the previous two games against Virginia Tech and Florida State, throwing a total of five interceptions, but wet conditions were a factor in both games.

The Eagles have five receivers with at least 34 catches, led by Brandon Robinson, who has 42 for 651 yards and five touchdowns. To put that number in perspective, Maryland has one receiver with more than 19 catches. Ryan distributes the ball to running backs, wide receivers and tight ends alike, adding to the challenges a defense faces.

Ryan's gaudy numbers have come at the expense of the BC ground game. The Eagles throw the ball 61 percent of the time, an exceedingly high number for a team that until two weeks ago hadn't been in a game decided by less than 10 points. When BC does run the ball, Andre Callender (658 yard, 4.9 ypc) and L.V. Whitworth (314 yards, 3.7 ypc) are a formidable duo.

At the root of Boston College's gaudy offensive numbers is an offensive line that has allowed just 34 tackles for a loss, the lowest total in the nation.

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