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Nov. 10, 2003

And then there were three…

Thursday night, the University of Virginia and Maryland will renew the battle for the Tydings Trophy, a trophy awarded to the winner that was part of the series in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. The trophy became lost in the shuffle around 1945 when the two teams stopped playing each other for 11 years. However, the Terrapins consider UVA their chief rival since the Cavaliers are the closest. The Tydings Trophy is one of two awards the series represents. A couple groups of die-hard fans have also placed a “trophy” on the line entitled The Chesapeake Cup. Besides the trophies…there’s a whole lot more at stake.

Last year, the Cavalier contingent felt snubbed by the Peach Bowl. Following UVA’s 48-13 thrashing of the Terps and a second place finish in the ACC race, the Chick-fil-A folks turned to College Park for the invitation. They blame the Gator Bowl for selecting NC State ahead of the Cavaliers, and the Peach Bowl said Maryland posted ten wins and was ranked higher nationally. Politics aside, Thursday night has a ton of implications.

“We’re frustrated over the three league losses,” Matt Schaub told the media last Friday. “It was just a couple of plays that could have made the difference that we didn’t make. The Maryland game has our attention and we realize what a win on the road could mean…especially coming home for the last two.”

Maryland is good. The Terps have won five of the last six, which includes the hiccup in Atlanta. Playing with out starting quarterback Scott McBrien, who suffered a first half concussion, Georgia Tech held on for a 7-3 win. The Terrapins bounced back at home, scored an ACC record 39 points in the second quarter against North Carolina, and won 59-21. In months after September, head coach Ralph Friedgen is now 17-4 in October, November, December and January, and has suffered one home loss in 19 games. The Terps have outscored opponents 65-10 in the third quarter and boast the ACC’s second best ground game. Defensively, Maryland has been a mystery…but has been stingy enough to be ranked 14th in the country in total “D”, and seventh in scoring defense, giving up just 14.4 points per game. In it’s last seven games, the Terps have limited scoring to just 10.7 points per game. They haven’t practiced ball disruption, getting only 12 takeaways all year, but Maryland has 29 sacks. The Terrapin “D” has 117 career starts.

Given a little extra time, Virginia’s coaching staff has been effective in game preparation. I wouldn’t be surprised if UVA tinkers with a few things and gives Maryland a look or two they haven’t seen…especially on defense.

Game Notables:

Speaking of Matt Schaub…he is now just 155 passing yards away from UVA’s all time record…and needs just 6 touchdown throws to pass Shawn Moore in that department as well. Schaub enters the Maryland game with 51 career touchdown passes. Schaub has thrown a touchdown pass in 20 of his last 21 games and owns 16 school records.

From 1988 to the present, the Cavaliers have owned the Maryland series…wining 12 of the 15 games. The Terps last win was two years ago in Byrd Stadium. A 24-7 Terp lead was cut to three before Maryland reeled off 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in Coach Al Groh’s first season.

As in any college game, running the ball is of utmost importance…UVA has had a 100-yard rusher in 8 of the last 12 games and when the Cavaliers rush for 200 or more yards under Coach Groh, UVA is 5-1. The Terps are 25th in the country against the run, giving up just 111 yards per game.

Ryan’s Song? In Ryan Sawyer’s last season, UVA’s starting wide receiver has become a favorite target of his roommate, Matt Schaub. Sawyer is now third on the team with 29 receptions for two touchdowns and has caught ten balls the past two weeks…including a career high 63 yarder against NC State. Heath Miller and Alvin Pearman are 1-2 in the pass catching department for the Cavs.

Charlottesville’s Nick Novak, who attended Albemarle High School and had thoughts of playing for Virginia, is one of the nation’s elite specialists. A finalist for the Lou Groza award, Novak has booted 18 of 22 field goals this season, 54 of 62 in his career, and is 7 of 11 beyond 50 yards for the Terps.

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