FACTS & STATS: Site: Byrd Stadium (51,802) — College Park, Maryland.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Rutgers 4-2, Maryland 2-3. Away Record:
Rutgers 2-3, Maryland 5-1. Neutral Record: Rutgers 0-0, Maryland 0-0.
Conference Record: Rutgers 2-5, Maryland 4-3. Series Record: Maryland leads,
GAME NOTES: The two newest members of the Big Ten Conference will close out
their respective regular season schedules against one another on Saturday
afternoon at Byrd Stadium, as Maryland hosts Rutgers.
The game also serves as a homecoming for Rutgers offensive coordinator Ralph
Friedgen, who led the Terrapins to seven bowl games during his tenure there
and was the consensus National Coach of the Year in 2001. But his current team
is struggling of late with losses in four of its last five games, including
last weekend’s 45-3 drubbing at the hands of 10th-ranked Michigan State.
Maryland strengthened its bowl chances with a 23-16 victory at Michigan last
weekend to get to seven wins. While that outcome improved the Terps’ record to
5-1 in road games this season, they have gone just 2-3 at home.
Maryland leads the all-time series, 5-4, although these teams have not met
Rutgers senior quarterback Gary Nova had a tough time against Michigan State’s
top-10 defense, as he completed only 11-of-26 passes for 108 yards and was
intercepted twice. All told, the Scarlet Knights converted only 4-of-14 third
downs and finished with just 234 yards of total offense. While the Spartans
were busy building a comfortable first-half lead, the Rutgers offense produced
three punts, a missed field goal and those two picks by Nova before halftime.
It has been a difficult unit to figure out all season. One week earlier, the
Scarlet Knights put 45 points on the board against Indiana, although they were
also shut out by Wisconsin in their previous game. On the season, Rutgers
ranks 91st in the nation in total offense (368.6) and 93rd in scoring offense
The Scarlet Knights have not fared any better defensively, as they enter this
final weekend ranked 90th in scoring defense (30.3) and 92nd in total defense
(436.2). Michigan State lost a fumble on its first possession last week, but
the Spartans followed that up with touchdowns on each of their next five
drives to go into halftime with a 35-0 cushion. By game’s end, Rutgers had
given up 520 yards from scrimmage, including 242 (5.5 ypc) and four touchdowns
on the ground.
Trailing 16-9 in the fourth quarter against Michigan, the Terrapins put
together a couple of touchdown drives in the final frame to win it.
Quarterback C.J. Brown began the fourth quarter with an eight-yard touchdown
run, which marked his school-record 54th career TD, and he finished with a
team-high 87 rushing yards on 18 carries. Later, sophomore running back Wes
Brown scored his fifth rushing TD to take the lead. Expect the Terps to
continue to emphasize the ground game in the wake of a season-ending injury to
leading receiver Stefon Diggs.
Maryland’s defense held Michigan to 106 passing yards, which marked the lowest
total by any of the team’s opponents this season. Linebacker Cole Farrand
registered 10 tackles for his fifth double-digit tackle performance of the
season. Up front, Andre Monroe increased his season’s sack total to a team-
best 9.5, and the senior now has 24 for his career to tie Mike Corvino’s
school record. In the secondary, William Likely came up with his sixth
interception of the season, the most by any Terps player since Tony Jackson in
2001. Likely entered the weekend tied for the Big Ten lead and seventh
nationally in interceptions.
On paper, these teams are fairly evenly matched. But for one reason or
another, Maryland has fared better on the road than at home this season.
Expect Friedgen to draw up a few special plays as he returns to College Park
for the first time since 2010.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 27, Maryland 24