Halloween is here! Or is it? We won’t be seeing costumed neighborhood kids wandering around in packs knocking on doors looking for processed sugary treats this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, nor will we see adults running around dressed as who knows what.
M Street will be clear of costumed pedestrians in Georgetown and the parental candy tax takes a hiatus (whether it’s a flat or progressive candy tax, the kids always feel they’re getting ripped off).
But there will be trick-or-treating on the football field: Maryland tries to masquerade as a team that didn’t lose its opener by 40 points, Virginia Tech attempts to reclaim its costume as an ACC contender, Navy looks to fit into the costume of consistency and Virginia is dressing up its offense as a three-headed monster.
Will the treats outnumber the tricks this weekend?
Maryland (0-1) vs. Minnesota (0-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Big Ten Network)
Despite a lack of success since joining the Big Ten, the Terps have started 0-2 in league play just once (2015) in their short conference history. Minnesota has begun Big Ten play 0-2 three times in that span, including 2018 when they lost at Maryland 42-13.
The Golden Gophers return nine starters on offense from their co-West Division championship team, including quarterback Tanner Morgan.
But the real threat may be running back Mohamed Ibrahim; the junior from Baltimore ran for over 1,000 yards as a freshman and after an injury-marred 2019 rumbled for 140 yards against the Wolverines.
The question facing the Terps is how much they can improve over their 40-point loss to Northwestern; one expects they’ll be better on both sides of the ball this evening but it likely won’t be enough.
Presto’s Pick: Terrapins tumble, 38-14
Virginia Tech (3-2) at Louisville (2-4, 1-4 ACC), 4 p.m. Saturday (ACC Network)
The Hokies try to get their offensive groove back; after averaging 40 points over their first four games, the Hokies were held to 16 last Saturday.
Both teams have been ranked at different times this season, but that was probably more of a byproduct of the lack of teams playing in FBS as much as success on the field.
The Cardinals allowed 46 and 47 points in losses to Georgia Tech and Miami but are coming off a 48-16 rout of Florida State, and they may have played a better game the previous week in their 12-7 loss at No. 4 Notre Dame.
Louisville got to 2-4 because they have issues stopping the run as well as getting off the field on third down. The ACC’s top ranked run game should be able to assert itself; the only question is can they get rid of the turnovers that plagued them last week in Winston-Salem?
Presto’s Pick: Hokies hang on, 30-24
Navy (3-3, 3-1 AAC) at No. 22 SMU (5-1, 2-1), 7:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)
Which team had a more disappointing second half last weekend? The Mustangs were outscored 28-3 after intermission by No. 9 Cincinnati while the Mids missed a pair of field goals and turned the ball over on its 20 to Houston.
Dalen Morris passed for a career-high 206 yards and two scores in the loss, but one expects the Mustangs to be more concerned with limiting the Mids ground game like the Cougars did (3.32 yards per carry).
SMU quarterback Shane Buechele threw for 251 yards in a loss to Navy last year and has posted three games of 300+ yards this fall; the Mids’ defense has generated just five sacks over six games, the second smallest total in the AAC.
Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen come up short, 38-21
Virginia (1-4) vs. No. 15 North Carolina (4-1), 8 p.m. Saturday (ACC Network)
The Cavaliers begin the second half of their ACC slate by facing the school many in Charlottesville feel is their “true” rival, even though the drive to Chapel Hill is an hour longer than one to Blacksburg (189.6 miles over 3:20 to 149.1 over 2:21, according to Google).
At least in this “rivalry” UVA fares a little better: they’ve won three straight against the Tar Heels and have actually beaten them on the road this century.
In the current charged political climate one yearns for simpler times, and the 1928 meeting between these two schools was attended by then-President Calvin Coolidge.
Far from “choosing not to run,” this year’s Tar Heels rank second in the ACC with 249 rushing yards per game. UNC also ranks second in passing with sophomore quarterback Sam Howell posting a better rating than he did last year (he threw 4 TD’s against UVA in a loss).
Meanwhile, Cavaliers Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall plans to use all three of his quarterbacks this Saturday — anyone who followed the Mike London era knows how the “multiple QB blend” recipe works long-term.
But just like “the chief business of the American people is business,”, the chief business of Kippy & Buffy is to bring a decent wine to their socially distant tailgate. And while the multiple-QB blend may misfire on the field, nothing beats a good blend in the bottle.
This week they’re enjoying the 2017 Paraduxx (Napa Valley Red Wine Cork Tree Vineyard) with Taleggio Cheese on rye chips. The 55% Malbec, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon blend “begins with radiant red berry aromas that leap from the glass.
As it evolves, notes of sweet hay, dried flowers, earth and graham crackers add depth and intrigue.” The Cavaliers’ depth at quarterback delivers potential intrigue one would prefer to avoid.
Presto’s Pick: Tar Heels triumph, 28-17
Last Week: 3-1