Duke-Maryland: Blue Devils Will Battle Overconfidence As Well As Terps

Mike KlineAnalyst IOctober 22, 2009

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 29:  The mascot of the Duke Blue Devils throws his pitchfork into the endzone during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Duke Coach David Cutcliffe probably felt it was closer to April Fools Day instead of Halloween when he heard the news his Blue Devils were favored to win this Saturday.

"Are we favored? Lord have mercy," was Cutcliffe's response to hearing the news.

Well, coach—yes—you are favored, by five points no less.

But all jesting aside, on paper at least Duke is rightly favored in their showdown with conference foe Maryland on Halloween Saturday.

The Blue Devils can score points, to the tune of nearly 32 points per game. And the Terrapins can't stop anyone, giving up almost 33 points per game.

But that doesn’t stop the double opponent that Cutcliffe has to prepare his team for overconfidence and Maryland.

It is easy for a program like Duke to struggle with overconfidence seeing as they haven't experienced that sensation very often.

So, Cutcliffe has had to do several things this week including keeping his team hungry and humble, exciting the fan base to show up, and preparing his team fundamentally for the game.

Aside from rushing yards per game, Duke leads in most offensive statistical categories including total yards, passing yards, and points scored. And defensively the Blue Devils have given up fewer points than the Terps.

So, all in all, this should be a game Duke should win. However, that is what most people said going into the season opener against Richmond and we all know how that turned out.

If Cutcliffe can have his team playing with the kind of fire that they brought in a near victory against Virginia Tech and the decisive victory they had against NC State, then—yes—Duke will win.

If Duke comes out flat because they are too confident, it doesn't matter how much time they've had to prepare, they will be in for another disappointment.

I'm sure Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen will have his team ready to play too and they aren't going to roll over because they are playing Duke.

Prediction: Duke 32, Maryland 22

Keys to the game for Duke:

Has the Blue Devil's rushing attack improved over the bye week?

Starting running back Re'quan Boyette is expected to miss the game with an injury. If Desmond Scott can fill in and show more signs of the promise he has shown so far it will only help Duke's chances.

Can quarterback Thad Lewis follow up his impressive performance from two weeks ago? If Maryland can't bring the heat and Lewis has time, then he could pick them apart.

Keys to the game for Maryland:

Can the Terps keep the reigns on the Duke passing game? If Duke can't run the ball the focus will be on stopping Duke's aerial attack. If they can do that while finding ways to score themselves then this game will be close and that will benefit Maryland and better their chances of coming out of Wallace Wade with the win.