Aaron Donald (97) and the Pitt Panthers host the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday. (Source: ACC Network)
(RNN) - Virginia Tech righted the ship with a big win on the road last week. They will try to prevent Maryland from doing the same when they come to town Saturday.
The Terrapins are trying to avoid a late season swoon for the third straight year under head coach Randy Edsall. After starting the season 5-1, they have dropped three straight and remain one win short of bowl eligibility.
"We still have three games left and this is a big challenge this week," quarterback C.J. Brown said Tuesday. "Going down there in a hostile environment, I've never been there; it will be a good challenge for us. With three games left there is no reason to panic, we just have to bump up the intensity, bump up the focus and just focus on the challenge at hand."
Brown and his teammates must avoid turnovers to have a chance at beating the Hokies. They gave the ball away four times in the 20-3 loss to Syracuse last week.
Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC) had one of its best offensive outings of the season in the 42-24 win at Miami. Logan Thomas threw for 366 yards and two scores on 25 of 31 passing - his second straight performance of more than 350 yards.
Head coach Frank Beamer credited everyone for the success they had on the ground. The team totaled 183 rushing yards.
"The blocking up front was good - great effort," Beamer said Monday. "We stayed after them. The perimeters guys … they got out there and blocked, stayed with their blocks and I think our backs ran harder than I've seen them run."
Series notes: Maryland and Virginia Tech meet for the 30th time, with each team winning 15 games. The Hokies won the last contest in 2009, 36-9.
The UNC Tar Heels have earned three wins in three weeks against conference teams to bring their record to 4-5 (3-3 ACC). The offense gained 201 yards rushing spread among six players in the 45-14 win over Virginia.
Marquise Williams played well in his first start since QB Bryn Renner had season-ending shoulder surgery, with two scores through the air and another on the ground.
"We were really pleased with the way [Williams] managed the game, and he's done a good job of taking care of the football," head coach Larry Fedora said Wednesday. "All we're asking of our quarterback is to take care of the football and then also just manage the offense. And that means to distribute the ball where it's supposed to go according to what the defense gives you, don't force things, and I think he's done a good job of moving the chains."
Pitt (5-4, 2-3) is coming off a win against top 25-ranked Notre Dame, 28-21. Wide receiver Devin Street caught two touchdown passes, and Ray Vinopal recorded two interceptions in the fourth quarter.
"I loved the way Ray has approached the whole year and the way he works," head coach Paul Chryst said Monday. "He made some big plays for us and the stripped fumble was huge, but there was no ‘I told you so,' at least that I know of. I think he loves the game and he's exactly what you want out of a teammate.
"I think any guy is happy when they can contribute because there is that personal part, but I think he was truly—just like a lot of our guys—just happy to contribute to a win."
The Panthers' Aaron Donald has been one of the premier defensive lineman in college football this season. He ranks first in the nation in tackles for loss, averaging 2.2 per game, and has nine sacks.
Series notes: North Carolina leads the all-time series 4-3. The teams met last in the 2009 Meineke Car Bowl, which Pitt won 19-17.
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