After losing for the eighth straight time last week against Indiana, Maryland has a chance to end the season on a high note against Rutgers, as the Terps travel to New Brunswick to play the Scarlet Knights for a noon kickoff Saturday on the Big Ten Network.
Maryland does not have a conference win this season, as you may have heard. Rutgers, on the other hand, has one. This win came against Indiana by a score of 55-52 back in October. Yes, that's the same Indiana team that absolutely dominated Maryland in every way after the Terps took a 21-3 lead in the first quarter last week. Still, the Scarlet Knights present the Terps with their best chance to get a victory since USF came to town on Sept. 19.
The Scarlet Knights have played in the 10th percentile or worse on four occasions this season, while Maryland hasn't once. Last week, Rutgers beat Army, who ranks 123rd in S&P+, by a score of 31-21. This team is entirely beatable, but then again so is Maryland.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-7, 1-6 Big Ten)
See the Scarlet Knights' full advanced statistical profile.
2014 record: 7-6
Head coach: Kyle Flood (27-43 career record, all with Rutgers)
All-time record vs. Maryland: 5-5
F/+ ranking: 103 (Maryland is No. 81)
5-year recruiting ranking: 48
Players to watch
Chris Laviano, QB, sophomore, 6'3/210, No. 5. In his first year as the starter, Laviano hasn't been a terrible option for the Scarlet Knights, but he's turnover prone. The sophomore has thrown 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, which ties him for 14th in the country.
Robert Martin, RB, sophomore, 6'0/205, No. 7. Josh Hicks, RB, sophomore, 5'10/215, No. 8. Martin and Hicks share the bulk of the workload in Rutgers's backfield, with the two backs splitting touches about evenly. Each averages over 5 yards per carry and 4 highlight yards per opportunity, which measures the yards that a running back is responsible for (as opposed to the offensive line). They're not likely to break any 70-yard runs, but they'll keep the chains moving. Hicks did also play some safety last week, making the game-clinching interception, so we could see him there too.
Leonte Carroo, WR, senior, 6'1/215, No. 4. Carroo was one of three Rutgers receivers to burn the Terps for over 100 yards in last year's game, and leads the Scarlet Knights in receiving yards (626) and touchdowns (9).
Steve Longa, LB, junior, 6'1/225, No. 3. Longa is the team's leading tackler by a healthy margin, and owns an impressive 15.6 percent of his team's tackles. The preseason All-Big Ten linebacker is living up to his billing so far this year.
Anthony Cioffi, FS, junior, 6'2/200, No. 31. Cioffi can do it all from the free safety spot. He leads the team in interceptions with 4, is fourth on the team in pass break-ups with 3, and is fifth on the team in tackles with 37. He missed last week's game against Army after being suspended due to a violation of team rules, but should be back against Maryland.
Running the football. They don't break many big plays, but the Scarlet Knights' rushing attack is solid. They rank in the top 50 in offensive rushing S&P+ and rushing success rate, and their two-headed monster at running back allows both backs to stay fresh. They especially excel in short-yardage situations. The team's power success rate, which measures the team's success on runs with two or fewer yards to go on third or fourth down, is fifth in the nation.
Not much else. This isn't to say Rutgers is absolutely atrocious at everything except for running the football, but the Scarlet Knights just don't excel at anything, and are bad at quite a few things.
Pass defense. The Scarlet Knights have the second-worst pass defense in the country, according to S&P+. Their passing success rate, which measures how much of the necessary yardage opponents pick up on every passing play, is dead last in FBS.
Big plays. Rutgers has a hard time generating them on offense and gives up a lot of them on defense. That's especially good for Maryland, who needs big plays to survive on offense and isn't great at preventing them on defense.
S&P+ prediction: Maryland 31.1, Rutgers- 24.1
My prediction: Maryland 27, Rutgers 20.