Presto’s Picks: Early weekend for Navy, Maryland, Virginia allows for apple picking and antiquing

College football kicks off earlier for the locals this week as we get to enjoy football on Thursday and Friday night.

One game is a relatively new conference contest (Navy joined the American Athletic Conference in 2015) and the other is a dormant one-time ACC clash (two schools separated by 133 miles).

Whatever juice we get from those matchups will have to suffice as there are zero Top 25 matchups in FBS this week. In a sport with a ton of inventory and open Saturdays that can be filled or conference schedules that can be adjusted, it’s a shame that there isn’t at least one game between ranked teams, especially this early (fewer chances of upsets of overrated teams).

But in a world where the conferences balance their own schedules instead of the NCAA, we’re going to have feast as well as famine Saturdays.

Next week, there will be six such matchups, including No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame and not counting No. 3 Florida State against perennial contender Clemson (odds are the Tigers are back in after facing FAU this week). With the exception of Hokie and Dukes fans, I imagine we’ll have plenty of fans out there apple picking and antiquing (much better than maple sap collecting for syrup making).

Thursday Night:

Navy (1-1) at Memphis (2-0), 7:30 p.m., ESPN.

The Midshipmen’s consistently uneven game week schedule continues. So far, they’ve traveled overseas and have had a week off.

This time, it’s a short week although head coach Brian Newberry said they put in part of their game plan for the Tigers during the bye week. They’ll need all of the advance prep they can get as junior quarterback Seth Henigan has had their number in two previous meetings, completing just under 70% of his passes while averaging 315 yards.

The Midshipmen have dropped four straight in this series, averaging 15 points in those games. Can the attack that sputtered against Notre Dame and scraped to put 24 on the board against an FCS team keep pace?

Presto’s Pick: The Tigers are just too much in a 34-15 loss for the Midshipmen.

Friday Night:

Virginia (0-2) at Maryland (2-0), 7 p.m., FS1

The Cavaliers and Terps met annually as ACC foes from 1957-2013, but the Cavaliers always seemed to be focused more on “true rival” (as they claim) North Carolina or “forced rival” Virginia Tech (as the Hokies claim). It didn’t help that this game was moved all over the calendar as opposed to having a fixed spot on the schedule.

Their last 23 meetings saw nine November showdowns, nine October meetings, and five September matchups.

This September’s game has two teams heading in opposite directions, although Maryland’s uneven execution against Charlotte last Saturday has the team on alert.

“We showed character, we overcame adversity,” head coach Mike Locksley said Tuesday. “All things that are necessary but they won’t be sufficient for us to be able to get the type of wins and go to where we want to go as a team.”

Being able to run the way they did in the second half against the 49ers (220 yards after intermission) is one start, and the Cavaliers’ defense has coughed up an average of 227 yards and 5.3 per carry this fall.

Virginia is coming off a fourth quarter collapse against James Madison but has the encouragement of true freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea’s first career start. His 377 yards passing included 63 and 75-yard touchdown passes, something that will get the attention of a defense that coughed up a 48-yard strike against Charlotte.

Kippy and Buffy are striking out in a new direction with this week’s tailgate for the first time, bringing an Albariño. This Northern Portugal/Northwest Spain grape has a reputation for pronounced floral and fruit character, refreshingly bright acidity, and a broad, mouth filling texture. Afton Vineyards uses 100% of grapes grown on site and their 2021 Albariño won a Gold Medal at this year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition.

“This is a dry white wine with notes of peach and apricot,” according to the vineyard website. “A hint of grassy character and a slight salinity make this a refreshing wine.” Manchego will help make this a refreshing tailgate.

Presto’s Pick: Terps deliver notes of defeat in a 41-20 triumph.


Virginia Tech (1-1) at Rutgers (2-0), 3:30 p.m., BTN

The Hokies tour of the Big Ten continues with a trip to New Jersey and a former Big East foe (they both joined the league in the 1990s expansion).

Greg Schiano’s Scarlet Knights have already won more games this fall than they did in all of 2022 and boast a balanced offense, averaging 181 yards rushing and 188 yards passing. The Hokies have posted a total of 120 yards on the ground this fall and coughed up 179 yards rushing in their loss to Purdue, making containing Rutgers junior Kyle Monangai (165 yards against Temple) an early priority. They also haven’t beaten a Power Five school on the road since 2021 (Virginia).

Presto’s Pick: Hokies are humbled in a 27-18 loss.

James Madison (2-0) at Troy (1-1), 7 p.m., NFLN

Another reunion from a different life: the two schools split their meetings in the FCS Playoffs in 1994 and 1999. This is their first meeting as members of the Sun Belt Conference.

The Dukes needed a rally in the fourth quarter and some said the divine intervention of a lightning delay to gather themselves last week in their victory over Virginia. Troy was struck by lightning in the form of the Kansas State Wildcats, falling 42-13 to the No. 15 Wildcats.

But the Trojans also have experience at quarterback in sixth-year senior Gunnar Watson (who doesn’t like a QB named Gunnar?) who had nine passes of 50+ yards last season, and he’ll be facing a JMU defense that allowed 377 yards on 18.9 yards per completion at Virginia. The JMU defense will have to be opportunistic, as Troy has turned the ball over six times in two weeks.

Presto’s Pick: Dukes steal one on the road, 30-24.

Georgetown beats Stonehill, Howard edges Hampton, William & Mary over Charleston Southern, Richmond defeats Delaware State, Towson tumbles to Morgan State.

Last Week: 8-2.

Season: 14-4.

Presented by FanDuel Sportsbook. 

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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