MORGANTOWN - Shawne Alston relishes the opportunity to see if West Virginia's explosive offensive can cut the mustard against Maryland's dogged defense Saturday.
Maryland, 2-1, has the eighth-best defense in the nation, according to NCAA statistics, allowing an average of just 103 yards on the ground .
"It's going to be a challenge to run the ball against them because they have such a good run defense," said Alston, who has run for 185 yards and three touchdowns for the unbeaten Mountaineers.
The Terrapins are allowing runners to get a mere 2-plus yards from the line of scrimmage each time someone attempts to run with the football.
That defense has also caught opposing ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage 29 times in its first three games.
"We want to play everybody's best," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said.
The standout defense has come despite the eight returning starters having learn a completely different style of play this year.
"The kids have bought into the system and enjoy this style of defense," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "We have even higher expectations of our defense than what we have already seen."
The key for the No. 8 Mountaineers will be a fast start, to explode out of the gates before Maryland can get its bearings.
"Coach Holgorsen always stresses coming out and playing fast early on," Alston said. "Once they give up hope and we're firing on all cylinders, it makes it easier for us. We have to come out and play our game."
The game will be televised on the FX network, and kick-off is set for noon. Holgorsen said he likes the earlier start times to his football games.
"We're trying to start fast," he said. "What's a better way than to start early. It's better than laying around all day and being lethargic."
The game will be the last non-conference game for the Mountaineers, and their only one against a BCS opponent.
WVU starts its inaugural run through the Big 12 Conference next Saturday at noon in Morgantown against Baylor.
That game has been designated the Mountaineers' Homecoming game.