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Maryland football vs. Rutgers preview: Terps look for 2nd straight win

The Terps hit the road with a chance to move to 5-4.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Maryland Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football is back in action Saturday. The Terps will visit Rutgers, looking for their third straight win over the Scarlet Knights.

DJ Durkin’s team snapped a three-game losing streak with a wild 42-39 win over Indiana on Homecoming. It was a renaissance for several units: the Terps recorded five sacks, ran for 174 yards and made several game-changing plays on special teams. Maryland is 4-4 now, and a win would put them in solid position for a potential postseason bid with three games remaining.

Rutgers is certainly beatable, but is fielding its best team in a while this season. The Scarlet Knights are 3-5 with conference wins over Purdue and Illinois. They’re actually three spots ahead of Maryland in S&P+, although the Terps are still favored (the one-point opening line has climbed to 2.5 points).

This game was initially slated to take place in Yankee Stadium, but was moved out of the Bronx when it looked like the Yankees would make the World Series (they didn’t). Now it’s in Piscataway. It’s still a doubleheader with the wrestling programs matching up first, but it’s not the glamorous event it was originally planned to be.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-5, 2-3 Big Ten)

2016 record: 2-10, 0-9

Head coach Chris Ash. The second-year coach has already exceeded the Scarlet Knights’ win total from a season ago. Ash was hired after the 2015 season; he was previously Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, with prior stops at Arkansas, Wisconsin and Iowa State, among others. He’s been tasked with rebuilding Rutgers’ program, and it looks like he’s making progress.

Players to know

Gus Edwards, RS senior, RB, 6’1/235, No. 13. Edwards is a grad transfer from Miami, where he totaled 290 rushing yards last season. He’s already got 521 yards and six touchdowns this season, leading a backfield that averages 158.5 yards per game. He’s no Saquon Barkley or Jonathan Taylor, but Edwards is still worth watching out for.

Giovanni Rescigno, RS junior, QB, 6’3/228, No. 17. After starting each of Rutgers’ final five games in 2016 but losing the competition to Kyle Bolin in fall camp, Rescigno has returned to the job and started three straight games. He’s still just 24-of-46 for 300 yards passing this season, though, as Rutgers’ offensive identity clearly revolves around the run.

Kemoko Turay, RS senior, DE, 6’5/252, No. 58. Rutgers’ defense hasn’t been one to rack up the sacks or force many turnovers, but Turay leads the way with 2.5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries. His 14 career sacks are nearly equivalent to the college totals of all his teammates combined.


Pass defense. The Scarlet Knights are above-average in defensive passing S&P+, and they’re particularly good on passing downs (read: third down), ranking 10th. They’ve also got the highest pass-defended-to-incompletion ratio, which means the defensive backs are there to make plays. It’ll be up to Max Bortenschlager and company to beat them.


Pass offense. We mentioned earlier that Rescigno has thrown just 46 passes this year. That trend of not passing—and not passing well—has been a thing all year. Per S&P+, Rutgers’ aerial attack ranks 112th in success rate and 125th in explosiveness. There are 130 FBS teams.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland’s offense control the game more? Indiana ran 97 plays last week, while Maryland had only 56. That disparity can obviously be overcome, but it doesn’t make things too easy, especially when it happens in multiple games. A lot of this comes down to third-down conversions, where Maryland is still looking for improvement on both sides of the ball.

2. Will Jake Funk find the end zone again? He’s scored a touchdown in all four of Maryland’s wins, and the Terps are 0-4 when he doesn’t score. When notified of this, offensive coordinator Walt Bell said (somewhat jokingly) it was time to design some trick plays for the sophomore.

3. How does the Terps’ run defense hold up? In a more relevant correlation, Maryland is 4-0 when allowing less than 100 yards on the ground and 0-4 otherwise. Rutgers’ running game is its go-to, with Edwards, Robert Martin and Raheem Blackshear combining for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. If the Terps can contain them, then this should be a likely victory.


S&P+: Rutgers wins, 26-26 (well, 26.1-25.8, actually).

Me: Maryland wins, 27-20.