Thursday Night Football

Falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter and losing by four touchdowns was bad enough. The repercussions from Maryland's humbling performance at West Virginia lasted all the way into January, and the Terrapins still haven't gotten over it.

Maryland beat Purdue in the Champs Sports Bowl to finish 9-4 in 2006, but the Terps never could overcome the stigma of that 45-27 whipping the Mountaineers administered in September before a national television audience.

``That hurt us quite a bit at the end of last year. I really thought we were deserving of being at least in the Top 25,'' Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. ``That didn't happen.''

The rematch is Thursday night at Maryland. The teams won't meet again until 2010, so this will be the Terrapins' last chance this decade to get even with the fourth-ranked Mountaineers (2-0), who lead the series 22-21-2.

``I think we went up there, had some stage fright and then some bad things happened to us,'' Friedgen said. ``I'm hoping it's had an effect on our players. I'll tell you this: It's had an effect on me. I'm working as hard as I've ever worked to have our kids ready to play in this game.''

Oddsmakers from have made West Virginia -16 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Thursday's game, the over/under has been set at a whopping 65.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on West Virginia -16 (View College Football bet percentages).

Friedgen, a Maryland alum, fondly remembers the Terrapins-Mountaineers rivalry from his playing days. As a coach, he won his first four games against West Virginia but has lost the last three.

``It's always been a very intense rivalry; a very physical ballgame,'' Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez said. ``I think it's been great for both fans because it's so close. It seems like it's always sold out whether we're at their place or they are at our place. I think it's been a great series.''

The difference last year was Maryland turnovers and the play of West Virginia running back Steve Slaton, who ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Friedgen had a chance to bring Slaton to Maryland a few years back, but the coach already had too many running backs and withdrew the scholarship offer.

Bad move. Slaton is the centerpiece of an offensive machine that enabled the Mountaineers to go 11-2 last year, and this season he's had two 100-yard rushing games and scored six touchdowns in leading West Virginia to lopsided wins over Western Michigan (62-24) and Marshall (48-23).

``He's had a great career, he's a great kid. I'm happy for him,'' Friedgen said. ``I just don't want to be happy for him Thursday night.''

Maryland (2-0) will seek to sustain the momentum created by early season victories over overmatched Villanova and Florida International. Keon Lattimore rushed for more than 100 yards in each game, and quarterback Jordan Steffy passed just enough to keep the opposing defenses from stacking the line to stop the run.

The defense is ranked first in the Atlantic Coast Conference and seventh nationally, yielding an average of only 175 yards.

``What they are doing is, they are controlling the game,'' Rodriguez said. ``I think their last two opponents had the ball for less than 60 plays. They are getting a lot of three-and-outs. Their offense is staying on the field, and it's hard to score when you don't have the ball.''

West Virginia needs a win to stay in the top five. Maryland is looking to break into the rankings for the first time this season.

``A win would hopefully jump us into the Top 25 and gets us some respect from other teams and other coaches,'' linebacker Erin Henderson said.

But what happens if the Mountaineers again embarrass the Terps?

``That definitely isn't going to happen this time around,'' junior receiver Danny Oquendo said. ``That was the first big game for a lot of us. We have a lot more experience, and we're going to be ready to go this year.''

by: Anthony White - - Email Us

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