Fearless forecast: Georgia Tech at Maryland

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\ On the other side of the ball, the Yellow Jackets have been two different teams this year. There is the pro-Choice offense — that is, the times tailback Tashard Choice has been healthy. In those three games, Tech is 3-0 and Choice averages 23 carries for 150.3 yards. When he was hampered by a hamstring injury last month, the Yellow Jackets went 0-2 and Choice averaged 10 carries for 25 yards. Yuck.\

\ So the two things Maryland must do are obvious: handle the blitz with a fairly high level of poise, patience and perspicacity and slow down Choice enough to force quarterback Taylor Bennett (707 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) into making some plays.\

\ Based on those numbers, Bennett is almost a statistical doppelganger for Maryland’s Jordan Steffy (674 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT). But Steffy also completes 68 percent of his passes, while Bennett is at 50 percent. Clearly, the passing game is not Tech’s strength.\

\ Speaking of Steffy (concussion), he will be a game-time decision according to Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen. My gut says Chris Turner will start, but Ralph was cautious all week when talking about the situation. A bunch of that was probably gamesmanship, but there was some uncertainty there as well. Steffy still hadn’t been medically cleared to play as of early Thursday evening.\

\ As for a pick, I’m looking for a throughly unsightly, defense-dominated game. Georgia Tech possesses the nation’s No. 6 rushing defense, and Maryland’s play against the run has held up longer and longer the last three weeks. Neither team is pass-first, and it is tough to envision many aerial fireworks unless there are garbage time opportunities.\

\ But that seems unlikely. The teams are matched reasonably well, and both have shown some yo-yo-like tendencies early in the season. The wishy-washy prediction here is Maryland 16-13, but it would come as no shock if Georgia Tech pulled out a victory with a similar score. It’s just hard to see this as either a blowout or a shootout unless there’s an avalanche of turnovers that leave short fields for these teams to navigate.\

\ — Patrick Stevens

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