draLooking to snap a three-game losing streak in its final regular season game, Maryland football takes on Rutgers Saturday at SECU Stadium. The Terps came off their bye week flat, losing two non-competitive games to Wisconsin and Penn State, but came out with more energy against Ohio State last week. It wasn’t enough to come away with an upset win, but there is more optimism surrounding the team heading into its last game until a to-be-determined bowl game in December.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Maryland is a 14-point favorite against Rutgers and the over/under is 48.5 points.
Saturday’s game will kick off at noon and will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-7, 1-7 Big Ten)
Since beginning the season with three straight wins over Boston College, Wagner and Temple, Rutgers has fallen off a cliff and is back to being one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights’ sole win since then came against Indiana, and they have only been competitive in a few games.
Despite the losing spell, head coach Greg Schiano has gotten the program to a better place than the consistent doormat it was before he started his second stint in Piscataway before the 2020 season. When he was the head coach from 2001 to 2011, he had the Scarlet Knights rolling and even had a few brief stays in the top 10 of the national rankings. It doesn’t look like that level of success is in the books with the team now in the Big Ten, but Rutgers fans are optimistic that the program is at least headed in the right direction.
Players to watch
Gavin Wimsatt, sophomore quarterback, No. 2 — As the Scarlet Knights’ new starting quarterback, Wimsatt has had his ups and downs. In his five starts, he has completed just 45.4% of his passes and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. At times, though, he has shown glimpses of effectiveness, most notably his 236-yard, two-touchdown performance at Michigan State. He’ll need to move the offense downfield if Rutgers is going to win.
Wesley Bailey, sophomore defensive lineman, No. 23 — Rutgers struggles to get to opponents’ quarterbacks, but Bailey has done his part, leading the team with 3.5 sacks this season. He hasn’t had one since Oct. 22 but did register a tackle for loss last week against Penn State. The Terps have struggled to protect their quarterback of late, so Saturday could be a good opportunity for Bailey to make some noise.
Christian Braswell, senior defensive back, No. 6 — A Washington, D.C. native and transfer from Temple, Braswell has become a threat to opposing quarterbacks. He leads Rutgers with three interceptions this season and sealed the team’s win over Indiana with a fourth-quarter pick-six. Needing a strong defensive showing to beat Maryland, the Scarlet Knights will look to Braswell to come up with a big takeaway.
Adam Korsak, senior punter, No. 94 — Korsak is one of the nation’s best punters and is a real weapon for a team that has to call on him frequently. As the all-time NCAA leader in career punt yards and the soon-to-be leader in punt attempts, he is a four-time All-Big Ten honoree and was an All-American last season. The Scarlet Knights have managed to allow a total of -10 punt return yards this season, a testament to Korsak’s ability to control field position with his right foot.
Defense. Rutgers’ defense takes on the persona of its head coach — hard-nosed and tough. The Scarlet Knights rank 27th nationally in total defense (334.9 yards per game) and 23rd in passing defense (191.2 yards per game). They don’t make a lot of highlight-reel plays — they are tied for last in the Big Ten in sacks and middle of the pack in interceptions — but are good at limiting opponents’ offenses overall.
Offense. For as solid as its defense is, Rutgers’ offense is just as bad — maybe worse. It ranks 124th nationally in total offense, averaging fewer than 300 yards per game, and is close to the bottom in a multitude of other statistics as well. The Scarlet Knights have a stark lack of athleticism and have next to no consistent big play threats. They are one of just 19 teams in FBS to be averaging fewer than 20 points per game this season and have scored that many just three times in their 10 games against FBS opponents.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Terps fare against the run? Maryland’s defense has really struggled against the run this season. For as dire as those struggles have been recently, the final game of the regular season could be an opportunity to end on a good note. Rutgers ranks in the middle of the Big Ten in rushing yards per game, but its ranking is worse than any of the teams Maryland has played in the last three weeks.
2. Senior day. Before Saturday’s contest, Maryland will honor 18 seniors or players that have exhausted their eligibility. It won’t be the group’s last game since the Terps will be playing in a bowl game, but it will be its last in College Park. However, with the recent trend of NFL-eligible players sitting out bowl games, there are few players that are either seniors or juniors eligible for the draft that could be suiting up for the last time in a Maryland uniform.
3. Can Maryland one-up its win total from last year? Last season was seen as a building block for the Terps, winning six regular season games for the first time since 2016. With a win against Rutgers, Maryland would win seven games in the regular season for the first time since 2014 and would match its record for conference wins in a season since joining the Big Ten with four. Terps fans were certainly hoping for more when the season began, but a win would still hold value for a program continuing to build.