'Nole Your Opponent: Bill Connelley Previews Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Randy Edsall of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates after the Terrapins intercepted a Clemson Tigers pass during the first half at Byrd Stadium on October 15, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

SB Nation football research genius and expert analyst Bill Connelly is previewing the ACC this week.

FSU trips to Maryland on November 17. Here's an excerpt from 2012 Maryland Football Preview: Ironman Football And The Benefit Of The Doubt

Defining Success

As projected in the Football Outsiders Almanac 2012, Maryland faces five teams ranked 33rd or better (including four straight to finish the season), but they also face FCS William & Mary, No. 77 Temple, No. 57 UConn and No. 81 Wake Forest among their first five games. Granted, Wake and Temple both demolished the Terps in 2011 (combined score: 69-17), but there could be hope that a much-improved Maryland squad could start the year 4-1, then have an outside shot of taking out N.C. State and perhaps Georgia Tech at home to reach six wins. It is still unlikely, however. In the end, an improvement to four or, perhaps, five wins should be cause for calling the season an undeniable step forward.

Prognosis

Some coaches need to tear everything down to build up the program they want. Edsall's tear-down process doesn't seem to have been by design, but he faces a rebuild all the same.

It isn't impossible to talk yourself into this team indeed improving by a decent amount. The offense could craft an interesting identity behind Brown, Pickett, Diggs and other newcomers. Meanwhile, the defense at least shouldn't get worse in its new alignment. But after last year's egregious collapse, Edsall really doesn't get any benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof is on the Terps themselves to show that 2011 was the outlier, and that 2010 wasn't just a brief spike in what has otherwise been a rather steady, sustained downhill slide for the Maryland football program.

Please make sure to read the entire thing, as the offensive and defensive sections are particularly excellent.

This is a potential lookahead game for the 'Noles with Florida on deck. But it's a game FSU should not and cannot lose if it wants to continue to improve as a program.

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