It’s Homecoming week for Maryland football, and it comes at a good time after a lopsided loss in the Big House.
Maryland dropped to 3-2 (1-1 Big Ten) on the season with a 42-21 road loss to now-No. 12 Michigan. The Terps get the opportunity to bounce back this weekend against a Rutgers, a team that’s been cratering so far.
The game represents the perfect blend of rebound and revenge, considering both the Terps lost to the Scarlet Knights in 2017 and that Rutgers has been notably bad in 2018.
We’re at the midpoint of the regular season with no clarity on the head coaching situation.
This matchup marks Week 7 of the college football season and the sixth game in Maryland’s 12-game slate. In other words, we’re almost halfway through the season and the team is still trotting out Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada as interim head coach.
There’s been roughly no change on the DJ Durkin front, as his suspension nears two months. At this point, we still don’t know when findings from the investigation into Maryland football’s culture will be released, and it’s unclear how much closer we even are to a resolution. Homecoming weekend will mean a lot of alumni in town to watch the Terps take on Rutgers, but they’re unlikely to leave with any further clarity on the state of the program’s affairs.
Rutgers has been ...... very bad.
After going 4-8 last season, Chris Ash’s team has bottomed out. The Scarlet Knights haven’t been competitive at all in 2018, and have limped to a 1-5 (0-3 B1G) start with five straight losses.
Rutgers’ only win came over FCS Texas State, before the losses started coming. Their current losing streak includes being blown out by Kansas, notoriously one of the worst Power 5 teams; Buffalo, a solid MAC team that received top 25 votes after beating the Knights; and Illinois, a team near the bottom of the Big Ten. Those defeats came by a combined score of 135-44. Yikes.
The team ranks 119th out of 130 teams in the lastest S&P+ rankings, and starting quarterback Art Sitowski has three touchdowns to 11 interceptions. The defense hasn’t been any better and with or without Ty Johnson—whom we’ll likely have an update on Tuesday—Maryland could have a big day on the ground, after Illinois coasted to 228 rushing yards last week.
This is a must-win for Maryland to continue considering bowl eligibility.
Coming off a lopsided loss to Michigan, Rutgers presents the perfect opportunity for a rebound performance. The Scarlet Knights have been dreadful and, especially considering the rigors of the Big Ten East, this is the definition of a winnable game. The Terps lost to Rutgers last season after Ryan Brand’s game-tying touchdown pass was negated on a penalty, so there’s a little revenge factor in this game as well.
Rutgers and Maryland will forever be linked in the conference, with both joining the league in 2014. This is an opportunity for the Terps to prove that they are trending in the better direction while also staying in the conversation for a bowl game. Maryland still has a 4-1 Iowa team, a Michigan State team that looks beatable after last week but is a threat, and two top-10 opponents in Ohio State and Penn State to close out the season. With three wins, the easiest route to six means beating Illinois and Indiana later, but starts and relies on taking down the Scarlet Knights this weekend.