The Syracuse University and Maryland football teams have both been plagued by inconsistency this season.
And while the Terrapins problems can be explained by their plethora of midseason injuries quarterback, running back, both starting wide receivers, and a few veteran defensive backs – SUs troubles have been more difficult to pinpoint.
So theres no telling what to expect when the two middling Atlantic Coast Conference foes square off at 3:30 today at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. The game will be broadcast by the ACC Regional Sports Network and be aired locally on MSG.
Every week we want to go and we want to be respected and the only way you get respect is to earn it, said first-year SU coach Scott Shafer, whose team is 4-4 overall, 2-2 ACC.
Youre in a new conference playing new folks that dont know that much about you. So you always want to go on the road and get respect and some weeks weve done a good job and other weeks we havent.
The Orange is coming off a 13-0 victory over Wake Forest. But that was after a 56-0 dud at Georgia Tech two weeks prior with a bye week in between.
Before that, SU captured a solid road win at North Carolina State before getting blown out at home by No. 9 Clemson.
We came out of that victory last week against Wake Forest extremely excited and I cant tell you how proud I was of the way the kids played and I was proud of the way we coached too, Shafer said. But it only counts as one victory. Just like two weeks prior to that we had what counts as one ugly loss. So you have to say one at a time, move forward, and see if we cant go down there and earn some respect in Maryland.
Maryland has lost two straight games and three of its last four to drop to 5-3 after starting the year 4-0.
But the Terrapins are expecting reinforcements today.
Starting quarterback C.J. Brown will return from a concussion and get the start. Brown left the game early in Marylands Oct. 19 loss to Wake Forest and didnt suit up for its loss to Clemson the following week.
In his six games this year, Brown is averaging 210 yards passing and has completed 63 percent of his throws. He is also third on the team rushing, at an average of 42 yards per game. He has 13 total touchdowns, seven passing and six rushing, to just three interceptions.
Were down a few guys that (Brown) doesnt have in there with him that we had earlier in the season, said Maryland coach Randy Edsall, an SU alum. But hes a really good leader and hes a guy that knows the offense, understands it and has experience. So that means a lot to us and hopefully we can continue to, he can continue to, stay healthy.
Brandon Ross, Marylands leading rusher, will also return today after missing the Clemson game with a shoulder injury. He is averaging five yards per carry.
But Maryland will be without linebacker and leading tackler Cole Farrand due to a head injury. Farrand recorded 23 tackles against Clemson and is a big loss for Marylands rush defense, which ranks fourth in the conference.
Maryland would clinch bowl eligibility with a victory while SU would put itself one win away with three games to play.
SUs next game is at No. 3 Florida State then it closes the season with home games against Pittsburgh and Boston College.