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OTB Round Table Predictions: Maryland At Rutgers

Our staff make their picks for Saturday’s big game

Rutgers v Michigan Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

There is no doubt that this game is a big opportunity for Rutgers to prove progress is occurring in year two of the Ash Era. The winner of this game will even their Big Ten record at 3-3 and Maryland is currently a 3 point favorite. After two highly entertaining comeback victories for both sides in the first two installments of this series as Big Ten members, last season Maryland won easily. It’s possible the newest chapter of this rivalry will get back to how the first two games played out. Here is how our staff see this game playing out.

David Anderson: That 31-13 in the season finale at Maryland in 2016 was a few big plays away from being a super, tight game. Huge third down sacks by Maryland, a bizarre Justin Goodwin fumble, and some huge Terp runs were the difference. For all the talk of RU needing to throw for more than 100 yards, Maryland didn’t in 2016 and won the contest. For this reason, I think the visitors may come in a little overconfident. This probably goes down to the wire and whichever team can make big plays in the pass game will win. Both teams have shown mettle as of late but 60 degree temperatures may reduce the questionable RU crowd’s effect so my honest prediction is Maryland 28, Rutgers 27. Like Purdue, I hope our boys in Scarlet (er, Black) prove me wrong.

TJ Jurkiewicz: Rutgers suffered a tough loss last week at Michigan but showed improvement from last season’s slaughtering at the hands of the Wolverines so that’s a step in the right direction. Maryland comes into this game 4-4 and has to leave Piscataway with a win if they want to make a bowl game since after this week they end the season with Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. I like the Rutgers defense to slow up Maryland’s weapons a bit here and think Rutgers comes through in a low scoring game. Rutgers 21 Maryland 20

Jim Hoffman: For Maryland, there are not a lot of measurables. To date, the two teams have had no common opponents, so you can not use that as a measuring stick. However, I have been impressed by the ability of the offensive line to give time to their former third string starter Max Bortenschlager (how’s that for a name that rolls off the tongue?). The offense showed the ability to put up some big points last week. If we can shut their offense down, it should work, as their defense is fairly porous. They are not the same team that took down Texas in week one, that’s for sure.

I have been impressed with the growth of the team in the last few weeks. If we can have a relatively healthy Janarion, Gio, and Raheem, coupled with Gus Edwards and Robert Martin, the offense should be able to do some damage. I like our chances here. Rutgers 24 Maryland 20

Bob Cancro: I think we have this in hand early, winning at last six bouts plus some bonus points. So, Rutgers 22 Maryland 12. Oh, wait, you wanted the football prediction! Jim Hoffman above talked about measurables. Something you can lock onto and use to make a solid judgment. I agree that there are a lot of unmeasurable things. If Durkin is doing so well, why isn’t he winning more? If we have so many issues, how have we won even three games? There’s an old saying in football that the difference between winning and losing is razor thin. Little things that you may not even be able to see - or measure - push you to one side or the other. I know I’m perseverating here, but I go back to the players only meeting during the bye week. It was reported that it was a serious meeting and players unloaded things that were on their chests. And since that time, the team has been, well, better. I think being at home, the blackout (assuming people are in the stands wearing black), and this being an important game - for both teams - gives somebody an edge. And I’m going to play the optimist. Rutgers 21 Maryland 17

Pete Winter: I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this is the most important game in the Chris Ash era so far. Rutgers has won 2 out of the last 3 in Big Ten play and appears to be building positive momentum for the future. Maryland, on the other hand, has lost 3 of 4 and continues to struggle on the defensive side, giving up the most points in the Big Ten (37.0/game) up to this point. A Rutgers win would move them to 3-3 in the Big Ten, which is a milestone that nobody was expecting them to hit. It would also mean that the Scarlet Knights would likely not finish in last place of the Big Ten East division again.

Earlier in the week, Ash said that Raheem Blackshear and Janarion Grant would be good to go against the Terps. If that’s the case, I expect to see more creativity in Jerry Kill’s offense to feature those two as much as possible and exploit some mismatches against a leaky Maryland defense. Rutgers 31 Maryland 27

Mike Voza: The Maryland Terrapins make the 3 hour ride north to the Banks this week searching for back to back Big Ten victories. The Scarlet Knights are looking to defend the home turf and make it 3 wins in four conference outings. The Big Ten series record stands at 2-1 in favor of Maryland. This is the natural rival game that should be taking place on Thanksgiving weekend each year but a Wrestling / Football Double Header is what college athletics has the potential to be, and too many, much better than professional sports.

The key to victory for the Scarlet Knights will be slowing down the Terrapin Offense that has seen new starting QB Max Bortenschlager throw 9 TD’s against only 4 picks in five starts. The main weapon is receiver D.J. Moore. The Philadelphia native is averaging 93 yards per game and hauls in nearly half of all Maryland’s pass attempts. Running back Ty Johnson can be a handful as well as he is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing with 664 yards on the ground.

Rutgers is making strides and will need to take another step forward in order to come out on top in this contest and they certainly have it in them but I’m afraid the Terps have a little too much offense. Maryland 31 Rutgers 27

Patrick Mella: The two Big Ten wins were huge for Rutgers but the more wins you put together, the higher expectations get. Ok, we’ve proven we’re not the doormat of the conference this year by beating Illinois and Purdue. That’s great but now what? Are we just satisfied not being last in the league or can we show that we can not only compete but that we belong in the Big Ten? Make no mistake this is a HUGE game for Rutgers and should be a barometer of where Rutgers stands in the in this conference. As for expectations for this game, I could honestly see this being another ugly win like we saw versus Purdue. As the coaching staff has mentioned all season the goal of this offense is to score more points than the other team (I know, duh). But it’s clear they aren’t worried about how much (or little) Gio throws for as long as they win the game. On defense, tackling has been an issue but I’d like them to dial up some blitzes this week. Rutgers ranks last in the Big Ten in sacks and will face an offensive line that averages 2.6 sacks against. They’ve been able to take on this “bend but not break” mentality but that’s an awfully scary way to try and consistently win games. But with Rutgers at home, blackout game versus a beatable opponent, I’ll take Rutgers 21 Maryland 20.

Dave White: I am torn on this game. It finally seems to be the game Rutgers will win (there is a difference between will and can. I thought Rutgers could win the two Big Ten victories they have, but I didn't expect them to). But the "will" part is always a trap. Maryland is favored. Their defense has been a mess this year, and their offense has--at times--carried them. Rutgers defense has, on the other hand, carried the Scarlet Knights, while the offense has been devoid of the depth and big plays they need to win more. So, this game--to me--is a toss up. It's at home. The fans are pumped. I'm disappointed we can't break out any Yankee Stadium magic. I'll go... ugggghhhh.... Rutgers 24 Maryland 21 OT

Aaron Breitman: The victories over Illinois and Purdue were no works of art, but for the first time in what seems like a few seasons, this team was able to grind it out, minimize mistakes, and make plays when they needed to. Winning ugly is absolutely necessary in rebuilding this program. The confidence level of the team is way up and even though they lost by three touchdowns at Michigan, they were competitive and showed a lot of improvement against that team compared to the year before. In rebuilding a program, it's so important to learn to win any way possible early on, when talent and depth is still an issue. Rutgers is starting to do that under Ash and this game is huge in continuing the narrative that the program is much improved in his second season. I think Rutgers wins on the ground on offense and playing at home will give them the edge to make one more big play than Maryland to win the game. I expect this game to be wild and that Rutgers will find a way to pull this one out. Have your tums or other coping mechanisms ready. Rutgers 31 Maryland 30

There is a lot of confidence from our staff heading into this game. Will it be validated or is another letdown coming? Sound off in the comments and let us know how you think this game will play out.