The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 15, 2011

FURFARI COLUMN: Favorite or underdog, WVU faces first major challenge

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University went from a 2-point favorite on Monday to a 1.5-point underdog Tuesday for Saturday’s football game at Maryland.

Regardless of the odds, however, it certainly shapes up as the first major challenge of the season for the 18th-ranked Mountaineers (2-0).

To defeat the Terrapins for a sixth consecutive time, West Virginia must muster some consistency, especially in its running attack, and get off to a stronger start than it had in either of the first two contests of the season.

What’s more, the Terrapins (1-0) have had two weeks to prepare for the noon kickoff in Byrd Stadium. Maryland defeated Miami 32-24 in its 2011 opener. A near-capacity crowd is expected Saturday.

ESPNU will televise the game.

“They’re going to be familiar with what we do,” WVU head coach,Dana Holgorsen noted. “So we’ll need to play hurry-up and catch-up and get into our rhythm.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’ll put together a good game plan, then go up there on Friday.”

West Virginia is spending the week trying to correct the mistakes made by the Mountaineers in last Saturday’s 55-12 win against Norfolk State, which surprised by leading 12-10 at halftime.

Holgorsen, in his first year as a head coach at any level, still thinks “it’s a work in progress. I don’t know where we’re going to be.

“We’ve got to figure out what we’re good on and what we’re not good at. We want to stay the course and try to get better.”

He admittedly is not surprised where the team is at this early stage of the campaign. But players and coaches alike expect to take the Terrapins’ best shot.

West Virginia won last year’s game by 31-17 in Morgantown. Maryland last won in the series in 2003 by 34-7 at College Park and in the Gator Bowl to cap that season, 41-7.

The Mountaineers hold a 24-21-2 edge in this border-state rivalry.

Randy Edsell, who left Connecticut after his team won the 2010 Big East championship, is in his first season as Maryland’s head coach. He is 1-6 in games against WVU.

That lone victory came last Oct. 29 at East Hartford, Conn., when the Huskies eked out victory against West Virginia 16-13 in overtime.

Edsell, whose record is 75-70 in his 13th year as a head coach, is a graduate of Syracuse.

He inherited 45 letterman from Maryland’s 2010 team that posted a 9-4 record last year. Fourteen are starters.

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