With Maryland leaving the ACC after this season, the conference will look a lot different next year. Maryland is not only taking their athletics away from the ACC, but they are taking great traditional rivalries that have become important to their fan base and the fan base’s of other teams as well.
Being raised an ACC fan, I have always appreciated and looked forward to certain games within the conference, even if the games had no national relevance. The Virginia-Maryland game is a rivalry that I grew up watching and always circled on my calendar. One could make a case that this was the best football rivalry within the ACC at one time.
These two teams will meet this Saturday in College Park, Md. for the last time as conference foes. Maryland is coming of a 63-0 drubbing at the hands of Florida State, and Virginia is trying to lick its wounds after being embarrassed by Ball State, 48-27. These teams have experienced some down years as of late and to most people, this game does not seem very important in the national or ACC landscape, but this is a great rivalry that we might not get to see in the future with Maryland departing for the Big Ten.
When I think of Virginia, I think of the greats that have worn the blue and orange like Tiki Barber, Thomas Jones, Matt Schaub, Heath Miller and Hermon Moore. When I think of Maryland, players like E.J. Henderson, Boomer Esiason, Vernon Davis and Torrey Smith come to mind. These two schools have produced great talent and have waged some good wars in the past.
These two teams first met in 1919, and have played annually since 1957. The Terps hold a 43-32-2 advantage over the Cavaliers. This rivalry is interesting in the sense that teams seem to win in streaks, with Maryland winning 16 games in a row between 1972-1987, which is the longest winning streak in the rivalry. These two schools were original members of the ACC and have been the backbone of the conference ever since their arrival.
Last season, Maryland jumped out to a 17-0 lead and hung on for a 27-20 victory over Virginia. Maryland only won two ACC games a year ago, but one of them just happened to be against the Cavaliers. This year, Virginia is searching for answers on offense as they currently are 103rd in the nation in total offense averaging only 349 yards per game. Their defense has not been that bad, expect for the debacle last week against Ball State. The main issue with Virginia is the quarterback position, in which starter David Watford is yielding a 3-7 TD-INT ratio.
Maryland was humbled last week by fellow coastal division foe Florida State, a game in which their starting quarterback C.J. Brown got knocked out of the game in the second quarter. If Brown cannot go this weekend, then it will be Caleb Rowe, who came in to replace Brown last week, and will start. Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs was held in check by the Seminoles only catching two passes for 24 yards. I look for Maryland to come out and start fast early like they did last year.
If Maryland can force Virginia to play catch up, then the Cavs will have trouble with their shaky passing offense. Virginia is going to need to find some offense soon if they want to reach a bowl game. If not, Mike London might find himself out of a job by year’s end. We need to enjoy this rivalry while we still can, because we do not know the next time we will get to see it renewed.
Travis Patterson, Writer for ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20.