It’s “Rivalry Weekend”!  Or maybe not.  A true rivalry is more than nearby schools suiting up.  At its best, a rivalry is a fantastic dance.  Two schools mark their calendars in anticipation for each matchup…and when one’s rival is playing somebody else you are rooting for that team like there’s no tomorrow.  Such is the emotion surrounding such rivals is that a season can be salvaged with a win over the hated opponent just like it can be ruined with a defeat to the same foe.  Sadly, for every Michigan-Ohio State or Auburn-Alabama there are schools without dance partners.  Maryland for years looked to Virginia as its “ACC nearest neighbor” while the Cavalier faithful shunned College Park.  Now that they’re in the Big Ten, Terps fans are looking to their northern neighbor Penn State.  While last year’s win in Happy Valley (first since 1961 and first-ever up there) certainly spiced things up…the Nittany Lions have a long dance card of historic opponents (their annual rival should be Pitt) that they’ve lost to more than twice in school history.  Sometimes its wise to settle for a safety school– and that rival should probably be Rutgers.  Another east coast school that has trouble selling out its “too small for the Big Ten” stadium while regularly losing recruits and games to Pennsylvania State University.  Virginia has the perfect dance partner but still likes to give Virginia Tech the cold shoulder…in favor of their natural rival North Carolina.  Yes, there are those who will tell you that the UNC game is the one they get up for each fall.  Never mind that the Tar Heels have Duke and NC State on their doorstep (Wake Forest? Puleeze) and can’t be bothered with a Coastal Division pretender they’ve run roughshod over this decade.  So the Cavaliers can’t beat the team that won’t dance with them as well as the school that will.  Thank goodness Navy has Army.

Alma Mater Update– the freefall is in full force.  Three straight losses with #25 Pitt merely an appetizer of what’s to come:  unbeatens Florida State and Clemson lurk around the corner which means there’s minimal margin for error if the Orange are to somehow defy the odds and get back to the Pinstripe Bowl.  When does basketball begin again?

Maryland plays Penn State in Baltimore–  the Mike Locksley regime begins with a bang.  Can they make it two straight over the Nittany Lions for the first time in school history?  Christian Hackenberg is supposed to be a great quarterback, but the junior seems to be less than the sum of his passing parts.  How the Terps’ run defense (ranked 13th in the Big Ten) deals with runningback Saquon Barkley (8.3 yards per carry) will be just as important.. Perry Hills starts again at quarterback–one can imagine he’ll have less running room with Penn State gameplanning for that threat.  A makeshift Terps offensive line also has to contend with the nation’s leading sacker in Carl Nassib (11.5 sacks in 2015).  They still wear all-white uniforms, but this Penn State team barely beat Army West Point and lost to Temple (granted, the Owls are unbeaten–but they remain TEMPLE).  Terps tumble in the charm city, 29-26.

Virginia visits North Carolina– the Cavaliers season got off the mat last Saturday with a triple-overtime win over Syracuse.  But the school hasn’t won conference games on consecutive weekends since 2012.  And the Tar Heels lead the ACC in yards and points per game…while the Cavaliers allow the most in both categories.  Kippy and Buffy make this their one mandatory tailgating roadtrip each year– and while they’re bringing a Lovingston 2012 Josies Knoll Merlot:  “spiced red plum with red currant aromas”.  Naturally paired with Colby cheese and Melba Toast.  Sadly, their UNC tailgating friends Meredith and Peyton made previous plans to brunch at the Washington Duke Hotel with their Blue Devil buddies Tommy and Cricket.  Cavaliers come up short, 37-17.

Virginia Tech entertains #23 Duke– who would have thought that the research triangle trio (UNC, Duke & NC State) would be off to a 14-4 start?  And that it’s the Blue Devils who have emerged as Coastal Division favorites?  This year’s unit is getting it done on the defensive side of the ball:  their 9.3 points allowed per game leads the ACC…and they’re tops in stopping the pass.  For a Virginia Tech team that’s having troubles running and passing this fall, that can’t be encouraging.  Thomas Sirk is just the pass-run quarterback that’s given the Hokie defense headaches this fall…and fans of the 60’s TV show “The Wild, Wild West” recognize that Ross Martin needs no disguise as a kicker who’s perfect (12-12 FG, 19-19 XP) this fall.  Not to be confused with Maryland offensive tackle Michael Dunn or former Syracuse fullback Robert Konrad.  Hokies are humbled, 24-12.

Navy tangles with Tulane– after a week off to get the Notre Dame loss out of their system, the Midshipmen resume American Athletic Conference (of America) play by facing the a Green Wave whose only wins are against FCS school Maine and 0-7 UCF (DO NOT CALL THEM CENTRAL FLORIDA!).  Keenan Reynolds is rested and recovered from the injury suffered against Notre Dame…and Tulane is fresh off allowing 239 yards rushing to Houston.  Midshipmen get in AAC winning mode, 38-13.

Georgetown loses at Bucknell, Howard slips at North Carolina A&T, James Madison beats Richmond, William & Mary edges Hampton, Towson falls to Villanova.

Last Week: 4-3.

Overall: 45-11.

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