Presto’s Picks: Bye week Kool-Aid

WASHINGTON — Maryland and Navy have early-season byes this week. Really? Didn’t we just begin the season?

The Mids actually have two byes built into their schedule, because the Army game is held in December — their other week off is a very reasonable October 28. So the Terps are the ones who suffer here thanks to the calendar (with only 13 weeks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving), conference (nine Big Ten games limit the wiggle room) and contracts (non-league series are set years in advance).

Both schools are 2-0, and with each receiving votes in both polls, glasses for the Terps and Midshipmen are more than half-full. But each team has questions that will need to be answered moving forward.

We’ve seen Maryland roll up yards and points in the non-conference month before — but is this offense Big Ten-ready? And is this defense able to take the pounding up front in-conference that last year’s unit wasn’t?

Navy can run the ball, as always, but will Zach Abey be able to complete more than a third of his passes (he’s right under 33 percent after two games)? And will the defense that was somewhat accommodating against Tulane and Florida Atlantic be able to deny the likes of Houston and Memphis?

In other news, this is the Saturday for guys to go apple picking/antiquing/wine tasting/brunching with their significant others while also taking care of every home/yard project conceivable (Ed. Note: Just be home in time for #Pac12AfterDark). Even though both schools are ranked (barely), Florida/Tennessee feels less Spurrier/Fulmer and more Dickey/Battle this year — I almost feel bad for CBS’s Brad Nessler. There’s just one matchup of top 20 teams: #3 Clemson visits #14 Louisville one year after the Top 5 showdown in which Lamar Jackson won the battle (he’d eventually capture the Heisman Trophy) and the Tigers won the war, eventually taking the National Championship.  Make sure everything is done by 8 — and if you’re going to see a movie, attend a matinee.

Virginia (1-1) vs Connecticut (1-0), noon (ESPN2)

The Huskies’ Week 2 game at South Florida was postponed, so we only have their 27-20 comeback win over Holy Cross to go on. Condolences to the Cavaliers coaching staff for having to watch that tape over and over. Randy Edsall is in his first season back with UConn, as he left the program in 2011 to coach Maryland to a 22-34 mark over four-and-a-half seasons. His mantra with the Terps was “fundamentals & technique”…so much that during season five, Edsall was asked, “Which fundamentals and techniques are more important against a running attack like Michigan’s?”

UVa’s offensive fundamentals this year have centered around Kurt Benkert’s passing — the senior averages over 250 yards per game and has no turnovers through two weeks. The Cavs’ defensive approach has been break but don’t bend — each of Indiana’s four touchdowns last week came on scoring plays of 25+ yards.

Kippy and Buffy go in-state for the first time all season, tailgating this week the fundamentally sound Barboursville 2015 Viognier Reserve: Effusively fragrant, refreshing and luscious, a wine of full body and adaptability with fish, shellfish, poultry as well as game. GAME ON, with Jarlsberg cheese on Bremner Wafers.

Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers come through, 24-20

#16 Virginia Tech (2-0) at East Carolina, 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

For some reason, ECU has had the Hokies’ number this decade. From 2011-15, the Pirates topped Tech twice, while losing the other two games by single digits. That number may have been misplaced when East Carolina fired Ruffin McNeill after the ’15 campaign, because last year Virginia Tech roasted the Pirates 54-17. This year’s ship? In utter chaos as allowing 90 points over the first two games has caused coach Scottie Montgomery to “reassign” defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson.

ECU quarterback Thomas Sirk threw for 2,625 yards and 16 touchdowns at Duke in 2015, but the transfer either is still shaking off a little rust, or suffers from a poor supporting cast (53 percent passing, 1 TD and 4 INTs over two games). Now, I’ve been told that the East Carolina campus is crazy on Halloween…but even though this is Virginia Tech’s first “true road test,” Greenville will be rather subdued in September.

Presto’s Pick: Hokies roll, 38-14

Howard falls at Richmond, Georgetown gets by Marist, James Madison tops Norfolk State, William & Mary beats Bucknell, Towson tumbles at St. Francis.

Last Week: 7-1 Overall: 13-3

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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