With bowl implications of the line, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will host the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. Both teams got off to hot starts in non-conference play but have struggled for the last two thirds of the season. Rutgers started 3-0, but are 2-6 in their last 8 games, while Maryland started 4-0 but have since gone 1-6 in their last 7 games. Both teams now sit at 5-6, just a win away from a bowl game with only each other remaining on their schedules.
The Knights come off a game where they were shut out against Penn State, looking terrible on offense. Rutgers finished the game with just 160 total yards, averaging less than 3 yards a play. For the third straight week, Noah Vedral failed to eclipse 100 passing yards, as he only threw for 91 yards. After a successful week against Indiana for the Rutgers rushing attack, the squad accumulated 67 yards on the ground. The entire offense must improve drastically this week against Maryland.
The defense played pretty well against the Nittany Lions, especially in the first half. The halftime score was 7-0 with the sole touchdown coming late in the second quarter. Olakunle Fatukasi was out with a hamstring injury, but the unit still managed to keep Penn State scoreless for the first 29 minutes of the game. Eventually, the unit wore down and Penn State took control of the game, but the way the defense played should be enough to get a win on Saturday against Maryland.
The likelihood that the Knights can continue their defensive prowess is not particularly great. That’s not to say that the Maryland offense cannot be contained, but they are statistically a better offense than that of Penn State. The Terps have more points scored and more yards than Penn State this season. They have scored more points than Rutgers against all of their common opponents, but their defense has also allowed many more points than the Knights defense against those same opponents.
The Maryland defense ranks last in the Big Ten in points allowed per game, having let opposing offenses score 33.9 points per game. Rutgers is fifth worst, allowing 23.2 points per game. Clearly, the Knights have the upper hand on the defensive side of the ball and the Terps have the upper hand offensively. This game has the makings for a high scoring affair.
Both teams know what is at stake in this game. Maryland hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2016 and has not won a bowl game since 2010. Rutgers’ last bowl game was in 2014, which they won. Most people would say that both of these programs have extremely bright futures ahead, but they would definitely prefer to end their bowl droughts sooner rather than later. On Saturday, one of these teams will do just that.
I see this game being high scoring, just like many of Maryland’s matchups. The Maryland defense is terrible, and if Rutgers can use their run game effectively, Rutgers’ offense could be reminiscent of the Delaware and Temple games. However, Maryland’s offense is led by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa who is second in the Big Ten in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns. Rutgers’ defense is definitely better against primarily rushing offenses, so hopefully they are able to adapt to Maryland’s air attack.
Since I have started making predictions, Rutgers is 2-6. For that reason, there will be no prediction this week.
Tune into Big Ten Network this Saturday 11/27 at noon to see the Maryland Terrapins take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a must-win game.