ORONO – The University of Maine football team put in a respectable performance against Pittsburgh of the Big East Conference, losing to the Panthers 35-29 last Saturday.

If the Black Bears can play like that against Pittsburgh, what might they do against a lesser team like the University of Albany? Maine (1-1) plays at Albany (0-1) at 6 tonight.

Could this game be a letdown for Black Bears?

Not a chance.

“Albany certainly has our attention,” Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said.

Maine players said they have been focused all week.

“There is a lot of importance to this game,” said defensive lineman Raibonne Charles of Windham. “I give them a ton of respect. They’re a tough team.

“You’re not supposed to lose games like this. You’re supposed to take care of business.”

Two good reasons for the respect given to the Great Danes: 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, Maine took a 16-0 halftime lead against Albany, only to lose 20-16.

To begin the 2010 season, when the Black Bears figured they wouldn’t be surprised by the Great Danes again, Albany beat Maine 3-0.

“We’ve been overconfident with them and it’s come back to bite us,” said offensive tackle Josh Spearin of Limington, who played for Bonny Eagle High.

“We were sloppy. On offense it’s difficult to do as well as you should without good preparation.”

Without good preparation, the Black Bears learned they can’t just turn it on.

Conversely, Maine prepared well for Pittsburgh, and played well.

“When we execute our defense after a great week of practice, we’re a good team, a real good team,” Charles said.

Maine’s defense recorded seven sacks and two interceptions against Pittsburgh.

Defensive end Michael Cole made eight tackles, including 21/2 sacks. Charles had five tackles.

“Our defense really played the game plan,” Cosgrove said. “(Pittsburgh) had to make plays to beat us.”

Maine’s offense made plays. Quarterback Warren Smith completed 27 of 45 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns. His primary target was tight end Derek Buttles (seven catches, 148 yards).

Albany, which has had five straight winning seasons, is coming off a 37-34 overtime loss to Colgate.

Albany quarterback Dan DiLella was 17 of 28 for 239 yards. The Great Danes didn’t allow a sack.

Albany plays in the Northeast Conference. It’s not as highly regarded as the Colonial Athletic Association, but the Black Bears are certainly not thinking about that.

“We’re not taking anyone lightly,” said Spearin, who has not played on a winner in Orono. The last Maine football team to finish over .500 was in 2008.

“We want to turn things around. We really want to become a winning team.”

This is the Black Bears’ last nonconference game. They will take next week off before beginning their CAA schedule Oct. 1 against Delaware.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases