West Virginia vs. Maryland Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet Saturday’s College Football Game Between Bitter Rivals (Sept. 4)
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: Rakim Jarrett.
- The West Virginia Mountaineers and Jarret Doege take on the Maryland Terrapins and QB Taulia Tagovailoa in a Big 12/Big Ten matchup on Saturday.
- The Maryland Terrapins are expected by many to take a step forward this season, but does that mean anything for this game.
- Kody Malstrom breaks it down and shares his top betting pick and prediction for the matchup below.
West Virginia vs. Maryland Betting Odds
Crowds are back. The college atmosphere is back. Tailgates are back. Students will be hooting and hollering, music from the bands will be blaring. It will be a joy for all of us to sit back, relax and watch some college football.
I don’t know about you, but I refuse to admit Week 0 is the start of the season. Call me old fashion, stubborn or handsome, but the real treat for college football is Week 1. This weekend offers plenty of action as we finally get into the full swing of things. With 80-plus games happening between Wednesday and Monday, there will be no shortage of high-flying action.
Speaking of 80-plus games, one of them that intrigues me the most is West Virginia traveling to Maryland. Played nationally on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET, this game will feature a stalwart defense in WVU and an MD offense that will be looking to rewrite the script of last season. Lets dig in.
Slowly but surely, West Virginia is building something. In Neal Brown’s two seasons as a head coach, he went 5-7 in 2019 and 6-4 in 2020.
He will look to continue his success in bringing WVU back to conference-title contention in the Big 12. With the defense finishing last season top 20 in Success Rate, Havoc, and Finishing Drives, it will be up to the offense if iy want to improve as a whole.
While WVU’s defense is great, it’s offense is less than desired. Quarterback Jarret Doege is back to lead the Mountaineers offense. Starting at Bowling Green in 2017, Doege is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the nation. He finished last season passing for 2,587 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
He can burn you through the air, but don’t expect much on the ground. He has finished every season of his college career with negative rushing yards, although he did have two rushing touchdowns last season. This could be a problem as WVU has a very inexperienced offensive line.
This season, WVU will be starting multiple freshmen on the offensive line. Ranking 113th in tackles for loss per game and 102nd in Rushing Success last season, it will have to improve that ranking if the offense wants to sustain drives. Running back Leddie Brown can’t do it all himself.
Arguably WVU’s best offensive player, Brown returns after rushing for 1,010 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He also hauled in 31 catches for 202 yards and two touchdowns. If the WVU offensive line can improve from last season and push the opposing line, this will open up more holes for Leddie to hit.
While WVU had trouble with Rushing Success, the same can’t be said about its Passing Success Rate. Doege will have his usual faces to throw to.
Slot receiver Winston Wright led WVU in receiving last year, hauling in 47 catches for 553 yards and two touchdowns. On the outside, Bryce Ford-Wheaton returns after cultivating a 416-yard and three-touchdown season last year.
If the offensive line can find its footing and give Doege and Leddie more time to make plays, West Virginia will be a dangerous sleeper in the Big 12. Especially when it brings back a monstrous defense.
While the offense is less than desired, the defense is a whole other story. As stated earlier, ranking top 20 in Defensive Havoc, Finishing Drives and Success Rate, teams were in a world of hurt trying to move the chains on the Mountaineers defense.
The Mountaineers bring back 75% in Defensive TARP, including some key pieces. Nose guard Akheem Mesidor clogs up the middle while recording 32 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks last season. His development will be critical to the success of WVU as it looks to continue its dominance on the defensive end.
West Virginia also brings back defensive tackle Dante Stills who had 35 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and two sacks last season. Stills and Mesidor will anchor the defensive line with a continuous pressure that will frustrate opposing quarterbacks.
The linebacker room also returns some familiar faces. Middle linebacker Josh Chandler-Semendo is back for his senior season after finishing third on WVU with 64 tackles, four of them being tackles for loss. He also had one interception.
Exree Loe will be by his side, bringing in 46 tackles, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble season last season.
The secondary takes a hit with Tykee Smith transferring to Georgia. Not all is lost as Alonzo Addae is back because of the extended NCAA eligibility. Addae finished last season with 66 tackles, two interceptions and five pass breakups.
The Big Ten made some head-scratching decisions going into last season. First it was not going to play, before ultimately deciding to play around the start of the season in September. This resulted in the Big Ten announcing it would only have a nine-game season. Maryland might be thankful that it had a limited season as it was not pretty for the Terrapins.
Finishing the season 2-3, they can blame the lack of success on not being able to finish drives. It’s simple. If you can not score, you will not win. Finishing at the bottom of the barrel, Maryland ended the season ranked 123rd in Finishing Drives. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will look to improve that number in his second stint with Maryland.
Taulia finished the season throwing for 1,011 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had seven interceptions. Although it was a limited sample size and his first “full” season at the position, he will still need to make a drastic leap forward in his game if he wants to not repeat last year’s horrible season.
Relying on explosiveness isn’t enough to get the job done. You have to be able to sustain drives. Taulia will have back his main weapon at the receiver position, in Rakim Jarrett, along with Dontay Demus, Deajuan McDougle, Nick DeGennaro, Dino Tomlin, and Marcus Fleming.
In the backfield, Maryland will be giving the reins to Tayon Fleet-Davis. A fifth-year senior, this will be the first time for Tayon to be the featured back in his collegiate career. He has 148 career rushes that have resulted in seven rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. He hopes to make his moment count and help push the offense to a more successful Offensive Success Rate.
With plenty of young unproven talent, the Maryland offense will be very interesting to watch. On the bright side, Maryland can’t be much worse than what it was last season. Not many teams were worse between the 40’s on both the offensive and defensive end.
Like the offense, the defensive side for Maryland was also abysmal past the 40. Finishing last season ranked 114th in Finishing Drives, Maryland will need to learn how to stop a surging offense to keep them in games when the offense struggles.
The defense returns a Defensive TARP Rate of 96%, a nationwide high. Getting another year of experience in their belts, you can only hope the Terrapins learn from last season’s mistakes and improve on them. While the Defensive Passing Success was top notch, they will need to generate more pressure in the backfield and limit explosive runs.
Maryland’s defense will once again be highlighted by the secondary. Defensive back Nick Cross looks to take another giant leap forward after finishing last season with 23 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and three pass breakups. He will be joined by Tarheeb Still. In his four starts, Still totaled 20 tackles and averaged two pass breakups per game. The secondary will look to once again finish the season top 20 in Defensive Passing Success.
Like the offense, the defensive side will feature some raw young talent. Freshman LB Branden Jennings looks to make some noise when given the chance on the field. There has been a lot of praise coming from head coach Mike Locksley about the young player’s ability and his physical style of play. He will be joined by the state of Maryland’s highest-rated player according to ESPN rankings, LB Demeioun Robinson.
West Virginia vs. Maryland Matchup Analysis
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West Virginia Offense vs. Maryland Defense
Maryland Offense vs. West Virginia Defense
Pace of Play / Other
West Virginia vs. Maryland Betting Pick
The Action Network has West Virginia projected as a 3.5-point favorite over Maryland, giving slight value to the -2.5 for WVU. There are too many question marks for both teams for me to make a decision on who will win. I will take my attention elsewhere. The total is what catches my eye.
West Virginia will look to have continued success on the defensive end while Maryland’s offense tries to sustain a drive past the 40. Filled with young explosive talent, it’s tough to judge how much the Maryland offense will improve.
I expect a slow start for the Maryland offense as it finds its footing and tries to figure out the stingy Mountaineer defense. While Maryland’s defense is nothing spectacular outside of it’s Passing Success, it should still be able to generate Havoc and get to the quarterback with WVU having an inexperienced offensive line.
With a lot of stops happening between the 40’s, this should be a low-scoring affair. I will put my money on the under and look to attack a second-half over if either side shows signs of improvement in offensive play as the game goes on.
Pick: Under 57 (-115)