Following Flynt - What To Watch For Against Maryland

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For the third consecutive year, Notre Dame takes to the road for a home game. This weekend's Shamrock Series game will feature the Irish against the University of Maryland at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins. Here are a few things to watch for on and off the field this weekend.

Not Your Grandfather's Uniforms: When Notre Dame and Maryland kick off at FedEx Field, don't expect to see a traditional look from either team. The university announced on Monday that the Irish would be wearing special helmets for Saturday's Shamrock Series game. Created in partnership with adidas and Troy Lee Designs of Corona, Calif., the helmets are covered in 24-carat gold leaf and feature green shamrocks on each side, as well as a leprechaun decal on the back. The Irish will also be wearing their green adidas TECHFIT jerseys, the same ones they donned against Army at Yankee Stadium last year.

Yesterday, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall tweeted that his captains decided that the team would be wearing its Pride uniforms, which were the subject of much discussion when the Terps debuted them at the beginning of the season against Miami. These Under Armour jerseys are modeled after the Maryland state flag.

The uniforms will certainly be different than the ones that Notre Dame fans have come to know and love, but unique jerseys and helmet combinations will become a new tradition of the Shamrock Series. Look for something new at Soldier Field next season and Cowboys Stadium in 2013.

Home Away From The Dome: Like San Antonio in 2009 and New York in 2010, Washington, D.C. will become the home of the Fighting Irish this weekend. There are a series of events planned throughout the weekend, including a luncheon and pep rally on Friday, as well as a Mass and marching band concert on Saturday. Visit the gameday.nd.edu website for a complete schedule of events.

The Basilica will be traded for St. Matthew's Cathedral, while the steps of Bond Hall will be swapped for the U.S. Capitol Lawn. Be sure to catch all of the events if you will be in the Washington, D.C. area over the weekend.

Injured Irish: With three-quarters of the season in their rearview mirror, the Irish have reached that point when months of football and the physicality of the game have taken their toll. It's inevitable. The nature of the sport is such that it's nearly impossible to make it through an entire season unscathed.

With Kapron Lewis-Moore already lost to a season-ending knee injury, starting center Braxston Cave went down in the Wake Forst game, and will also be sidelined for the remainder of the year. In addition, Manti Te'o and Aaron Lynch have suffered ankle injuries that have slowed them in practice. Both are expected to play against Maryland, but just how much they can contribute remains to be seen.

Finally, receiver Theo Riddick is battling a hamstring injury and will not be making the trip. Robby Toma is expected to start in his place.

We have already seen Mike Golic Jr. fill in nicely in Cave's absence against the Demon Deacons. Saturday will give us a look at how Toma and others step into their increased roles in the Irish gameplan.

Dual-Threat Terrapins: Although Maryland has only won two of its nine games this season, Edsall's team employs a pair of quarterbacks, a characteristic of the offense that could present some challenges for the Irish defense. While Danny O'Brien gets the majority of the snaps, fellow sophomore C.J. Brown also sees significant playing time. Brown, who is averaging 7.4 yards per carry, is the team's second leading rusher, behind starting running back Davin Meggett. Still, the Irish will have to remain aware of the fact that Brown is not opposed to throwing the ball. He has five passing touchdowns this season, one less than O'Brien.

Avoiding The Trap: After defeating a 5-3 Wake Forest team, the Irish now face a pair of squads with 2-7 records. Many analysts are already looking ahead to Notre Dame's Thanksgiving weekend showdown in Palo Alto, Calif. with the currently undefeated Stanford Cardinal. However, the Irish cannot afford to overlook Maryland and Boston College.

As head coach Brian Kelly said in his press conference on Tuesday, "Teams are going to play their very best. Maryland will play their very best against us, as has every team we've gone against; they've played their absolute best game of the year."

Because of Notre Dame's tradition and stature in college football history, the Irish are used to getting teams' best efforts. But perhaps more than usual, they most focus on the task at hand. Win the next two games, and only then focus on a Stanford team that could potentially be in the national title hunt on Nov. 26. With a season-ending upset, Notre Dame could spoil those championship hopes and potentially play its own way into the BCS picture.

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