DURHAM, N.C. -- Somehow, one gets the feeling it won't be a defensive struggle.
When the University of Maryland (4-3 overall, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) meets Duke (3-3, 0-2) today at 1:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium, two of the conference's best passing offenses will be matched. Maryland is No. 1 in the league, gaining 275.1 yards a game. Duke is second, with a 242.5 average.
"On some plays, it seemed like we borrowed each other's playbook," said Duke coach Barry Wilson. "We both have pass-happy offenses, so it ought to be interesting."
Maryland had its best game of the season last week, defeating Wake Forest, 41-13, and rushing for a season-high 280 yards.
The win followed two lopsided losses, to Michigan and Georgia Tech.
"I thought it was important for us to regain some momentum," said Maryland coach Joe Krivak. "These next two games are very important for us, because we get a one-week break before playing Penn State. Again, we're going to need another fine effort to win against a Duke team that has played well the last two weeks."
Maryland's newly found rushing attack has caused concern for Duke. Wake Forest expected Maryland to pass, but the Terps came out running.
What do the Blue Devils expect? Passes from quarterback Scott Zolak (154-for-274 for 1,750 yards) or rushes from ace back Troy Jackson (109 carries for 470 yards)?
"What we're facing is an exciting football team that can score any way it wants to," said Wilson. "They kind of snuck up on Wake Forest with the run. Their bread and butter has been the passing game, and that's what we will prepare for first."
Duke has played the pass fairly well. The strength of the defense -- even though the unit is last in the league, allowing 379.5 yards a game -- has been its secondary, which is allowing only 130.7 yards passing a game.
Last year, the Blue Devils came out blitzing, something they had not done in two previous years against the Terps.
"We've seen pressure defense from just about everybody we've played," said Maryland offensive tackle Clarence Jones. "It's no longer a case of them springing something new on us. Now, it's just a matter of if we're ready physically."
Maryland has been preparing all week to stop Duke's passing game. The Terps practiced using coverages with five and six defensive backs hoping to get pressure from tackles Larry Webster and Lubo Zizakovic, nose guard Rick Fleece and outside linebackers Jack Bradford and Greg Hines.
"With an offense like theirs, if we get no pressure, we get burned," said Maryland cornerback Scott Rosen. "It's pretty simple. If we have to blitz, that leaves us in man-to-man coverage. Anything can happen in the open field."
Like the Terps, Duke believes it gained momentum last week. The Blue Devils beat Western Carolina, 48-16, for their second consecutive win. Duke had a 17-16 win over Army the week before.
"We were looking for some consistency," said Duke offensive tackle Chip Nitowski. "Maybe this could be the start of something big."
Wilson said he doesn't want his team to get too excited.
"We beat a Division I-AA school, and we should have," said Wilson. "On the other hand, we've lost to South Carolina, Virginia and Clemson. None of those guys are patsies either."