This week, Testudo Times will be taking an in-depth look Maryland’s schedule as the college football season approaches.
Thomas overviewed the schedule as a whole on Monday, and today we’ll be previewing the Terps’ first three games of the season against Howard, Syracuse and Temple.
Aug. 31: Howard
Maryland opens up the season at home against Howard, which is a big change from the last two years when the Terps faced a tough Texas matchup in their first week. The Terps pulled off upsets in each of those games to start the season 1-0, and this year they’re heavily favored to start on a winning note.
Howard went 4-6 last season, but four of those losses came by less than a touchdown. The team enters the 2019 season with a new head coach in Ron Prince. Prince was an offensive analyst for Michigan last season, and before that he was an assistant coach for the Detroit Lions for four seasons. This isn’t Prince’s first rodeo as a head coach, though — he held the position at Kansas State from 2006-08, leading the Wildcats to a 12-13 record during that span.
Most of Howard’s talent comes on offense, which posted the 15th-best total offense average in FCS. Cam Newton’s brother, Caylin Newton, is the team’s quarterback. While he doesn’t have nearly as much talent as Cam, he was named the 2018 MEAC Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,629 yards and 22 touchdowns, as well as rushing for 504 yards and four touchdowns. He did have 17 interceptions, though, which is a good sign for a strong Terps defensive back group.
On defense, the Bison struggled to stop the run, allowing 230.2 rushing yards per game last season. This should bode well for the Terps, who have a very strong running back room, led by Anthony McFarland Jr.
The two teams last played each other in the opening game of the 2016 season, and Maryland coasted to an easy 52-13 victory. The Terps arguably have more talent now than they did that year, but it’s a matter of how that talent comes together under Mike Locksley in his first game as head coach.
Lila: Maryland should easily win this matchup and I see them doing so in blowout fashion. The team will be fired up to start the new season under Locksley, and the Terps’ talent outmatches the Bison.
Cody: This contest should be a nice early test for the Terps, but Mike Locksley starts his Maryland head coaching career off on a high note with a favorable win over Howard.
Sean: It’s now the Mike Locksley show in College Park, and the Terps are whopping 30-point favorites in their first game of the new era. They’ll get the job done handily against Howard to begin 1-0 on the season.
Thomas: This is the warm-up game. Howard pulled off an upset over UNLV as 45-point underdogs two years ago, but if Maryland takes care of business, the Terps should easily start 1-0.
Who will win this matchup?
This poll is closed
Sept. 7: Syracuse
The Terps face an early test against No. 22 Syracuse in the second week of the season. The Orange went 10-3 last season, ending the year by defeating No. 15 West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl.
This year’s matchup is the second of a two-game series between the squads. Maryland took the 2014 contest 34-20, but Syracuse went 3-9 that season and was nowhere near the team it is now.
A lot of what makes Syracuse so special this season comes on the defensive side of the ball. The Orange defensive line is ranked as the sixth-best in the nation by Bleacher Report, with the team returning two players that had 10 sacks and at least 30 tackles last season in Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman. Then there’s safety Andre Cisco, who was the first freshman in 20 years to lead the country in interceptions (7), which earned him ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and All-American honors. He’s ranked as the No. 4 defensive back in college football by USA TODAY.
Syracuse lost a lot of its offensive line core to graduation, and the team is also developing a new identity at quarterback. Tommy DeVito is likely to take over as the starting quarterback, taking over for Eric Dungey, who started for four seasons. When the two teams face, it will be just his second game as a starter.
With such a talented defensive core, Maryland’s offense will need to get creative to find ways to score, and kicking will also be a crucial factor. But most importantly, the defense will need to lock down and keep the Orange from scoring because it’s going to be very hard for the Terps to get points on the board in this one.
Lila: I see this game as a close-fought battle, and while I have my hesitations, I think Maryland could pull away with this one. The Terps will be hungry to defeat a ranked team and prove themselves to everyone, which will ultimately give them an edge. Plus, I think the talent on Maryland’s roster is being overlooked.
Cody: This will be the Terps toughest non-conference opponent of the season. However, following their game against Maryland, Syracuse plays Clemson. So there is always the possibility that the Terps pull off an upset with the Orange overlooking them. But, I’m giving a slight edge to Syracuse and think the team escapes College Park with a victory.
Sean: Syracuse is currently a preseason top-25 team despite losing their all-time leading passer in Eric Dungey to the NFL. Tommy DeVito showed flashes as a redshirt freshman last season, and as the full-time starter, he’ll do enough to expose Maryland’s defense and hand the team a loss.
Thomas: I still remember Dino Babers and Bowling Green rolling into College Park and throwing down the hammer in my second week of college. Now he’s coaching a Syracuse team that’ll probably be ranked for this matchup. Maryland has a chance, but I’m picking Syracuse.
Who takes this one?
This poll is closed
Sept. 14: at Temple
Last season proved that Temple is not a team Maryland can take lightly. The Owls upset the Terps 35-14 in College Park in what was expected to be a home win. Now the two teams face again in Philadelphia, where they’ll play at Lincoln Financial Field.
Like Maryland, Temple enters the season under a new head coach in Rod Carey, who served the same position at Northern Illinois. But while the Terps knew their head coach in December, the Owls had theirs swiped from under them. The school hired Manny Diaz as head coach on Dec. 12, but by the end of the month he left to take the same job at Miami. Carey was then hired on Jan. 11.
Temple lost a lot of its key talent from last season on both offense and defense. The Owls will be without their two top running backs from 2018, Ryquell Armstead and Rob Ritrovato, as well as wide receiver Ventrell Bryant. Defensively, the team lost its leaders in sacks and interceptions, with defensive tackle Michael Dogbe and safety Delvon Randall graduated. Dogbe dominated the Terps last year with seven tackles, including 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
When Maryland and Temple faced in 2018, the Terps’ offense was rendered completely ineffective, with the team’s only touchdowns coming from defense and special teams. Maryland’s offense will have to find a better strategy and take care of the ball to put some points on the board this time around.
Lila: Maryland will win this one, but I expect it to be a somewhat close game. The team will be eager to get revenge from last season and prove the loss was a fluke. Not to mention, the Owl who terrorized the Terps the most on defense is gone.
Cody: While Temple’s secondary is going through a slight overload, they possess a very experienced linebacker group and veteran quarterback. But I estimate that the Terps leave Philadelphia with a victory, with the difference coming from the kicking unit.
Sean: Like Maryland, Temple is ushering in a new regime under first-year head coach Rod Carey. It’s hard to know what to expect from either team, but given the Owls’ track record and home field advantage, I’ll give them the nod.
Thomas: Maryland started its 2018 season with a win in an NFL stadium, and it’ll have revenge on its mind after an embarrassing loss to Temple last year. A win in Philly gives the Terps some extra confidence entering Big Ten play.
Who comes away with the victory?
This poll is closed