College Football Picks: Miami at Maryland Betting Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/2/2011
College football’s opening week concludes on Labor Day night with, as far as I can tell, the only conference game involving BCS teams when ACC foes Miami (Fla.) and Maryland meet in College Park. It’s also the rare game to involve new head coaches on both sidelines. Former Temple Coach Al Golden takes over for Randy Shannon at Miami after the Hurricanes went a vastly disappointing 7-6 last year when they were preseason ACC favorites. The Terps, meanwhile, were a surprising 9-4 last season but still forced out Ralph Friedgen. The Maryland fans were hoping for Mike Leach or Rich Rodriguez to add a little sizzle to the program, but school officials went the conservative route with former UConn coach Randy Edsall.
Miami (Fla.) at Maryland Betting Storylines
If I have to tell you what has been going on with the NCAA issues at Miami, then you have been living under a rock. Many are calling for UM to receive the Death Penalty in the wake of allegations put forth by jailed former booster Nevin Shapiro, who claims to have given money, prostitutes, parties and other impermissible benefits to UM players for nearly a decade. And it appears Shapiro wasn’t lying because eight current Hurricanes players implicated by him are suspended for this game.
The list includes five starters on defense in linemen Olivier Vernon, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo, linebacker Sean Spence and safety Ray Ray Armstrong – the latter two were almost locks to be All-ACC players this season if not potential All-Americans. In addition, likely starting QB Jacory Harris and WR Travis Benjamin, who also is one of the nation’s top kick returners, won’t play. And WR Aldarius Johnson was suspended indefinitely by the school, reportedly for “not being honest” with NCAA investigators. The good news was that Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis, Vaughn Telemaque and Marcus Robinson were all cleared to play. Basically this means the UM defense will be incredibly young on Monday night, with several true or redshirt freshman now to get major playing time.
And Stephen Morris is now the starting quarterback, although Golden said his competition with Harris would be reopened after this game as the Canes are on a bye before facing Ohio State in what might as well be the Probation Bowl. Morris played in six games last season with Harris hurt and UM went 2-4 in the games in which Morris appeared. Morris had his ups and downs as a freshman. His nine interceptions in 153 attempts was the fourth-highest interception rate among quarterbacks with 100 attempts, and it was the highest among all quarterbacks in BCS conferences. Look for a huge emphasis on the ground game for UM.
Morris’ first career start came against these Terps in Miami last November. He was 18-for-30 for 286 yards with one touchdown and two picks. He threw the game-winning 35-yard TD pass with 37 seconds left as UM rallied to win, 26-20. Miami essentially dominated the game, outgaining Maryland 504-254. But the Hurricanes had 10 penalties, including one that negated a defensive score, and two blown extra-points. Canes starting RB Lamar Miller gained 125 yards and scored a touchdown in the game, and he’s likely to get at least 20 carries on Monday.
That young UM defense will have to deal with reigning ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O’Brien. The Terps were 7-3 in games in which O’Brien started last year. He threw for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns, the latter of which were second in school history. However, O’Brien had a rough game against Miami – in fact, his worst of the season. He was 9-for-28 for 134 yards with a TD and a pick. O’Brien is just one of five offensive starters back on a unit that was in the Top 30 in points last season and committed only 15 turnovers (fifth fewest in nation). The Terps have won six of their last seven season openers, including a 17-14 victory over Navy last season on Labor Day in Baltimore.
These two teams have played each other just twice since 1987.
Miami at Maryland Betting Odds and Trends
This line has been all over the place because of the Miami suspensions. I would highly recommend you shop around – I’ve seen it anywhere from Maryland -3 to -5, but it seems to have settled at -3 as of this writing. The total is generally between 47-48. The lean is definitely on Maryland. Some books opened UM as a one-point favorite even after the suspensions were announced, but obviously the action came in heavy on the Terps.
UM was 4-2 in true road games last year (3-3 ATS). Maryland was 5-1 in true home games (3-2 ATS). The Canes were favored by 10 in this game last year and were around a field goal favorite pre-suspensions.
College Football Picks: Miami at Maryland Betting Predictions
I still think that Miami wins this game straight up, almost because of the Hurricanes’ “us against the world” mentality. The total is tough because I expect UM to play rather conservatively, but who knows what that defense will be like with so many starters out. But I lean toward the ‘under’.
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