Oh what a week it has been for Rutgers football. You can get caught up on everything here, but the Scarlet Knights will take the field on Saturday with a new head coach (interim), new play caller, and a new starting quarterback. Will the results dramatically change? Not necessarily, but the hope should be that Rutgers comes to play and gives a spirited effort against Big Ten East divisional foe Maryland. Here is what our staff think will happen in this matchup on Saturday.
Adam Ross: After a very promising start to the season, including a 63-20 thumping of #21 Syracuse, Maryland has been on a slide losing their next two games. Still licking their wounds from a home 59-0 loss to Penn State, they come up to Piscataway with a big chip on their shoulder. It’ll be interesting to see if Rutgers changes their playcalling approach under interim HC Campanile, and how much of an advantage it will be that DC Buh knows the opponent so well. Still, I think this team has too much to overcome to pull out a victory, but they will show enough fight to keep it competitive. Maryland 36, Rutgers 17.
Fred Gaudios: Maryland lost last week to Penn State, 59-0. They are severely banged up and struggling with some off-the-field issues, as well. Somehow, they’re favored by 12.5 points against us (down from 14.5 when the line was set), a sign of how abjectly terrible we’ve looked so far this season. What I keep seeing on the field with Rutgers is a team that can’t get out of its own way, hampered by timid playcalling, a lack of strategy, a lack of discipline, and frustrating penalties. Ash and McNulty have been let go, and I think Nunzio Campanile recognizes the above and will coach this team differently. I expect to see a loose, more dynamic Rutgers team on Saturday, particularly on offense, but the big question which I think will determine this game will be how we perform defensively. I don’t think we’ll have enough to win this week, but I will say this. I was firmly in the “no moral victories” camp when Ash was around, but now that I see a distant light of hope in the future, I’m willing to accept moral victories for the time being. Let’s just play better, more exciting football. Maryland 31, Rutgers 24.
Dave White: The Nunzio Campanile era begins! Maryland isn’t an easy task, but they are not as good as they looked the first couple of weeks of the season when they were scoring more points than most basketball teams. But as they’ve faced better competition, they’ve settled down. Now the question is, was Rutgers poorly coached or not very talented. It’s probably a combination of both. I’m not sure how much of a difference Nunzio can make, but I do expect a close battle. I think Rutgers comes out fired up, maybe doesn’t defer if they win the coin flip and scores pretty early. I expect Rutgers to lead in this game and be in it until at least the fourth quarter... Beyond that? Maryland 24 Rutgers 14.
Cara Sanfilippo: Maybe my colleagues will think I’m a little kooky, but after encouraging fans to attend the game this weekend, I am going to maintain that optimism and predict a win this weekend. As I mentioned in the other article, Maryland is not necessarily the powerhouse they seemed at the beginning of the season, and maybe Buh will show why he maintained his position this weekend. I’m excited for this game, and I’m going to say we are going to come out fighting, and with something to prove. Hopefully this change has banded this team together, and they feel the hope we do that better days are here to come. I think it will be gritty, close, but I am looking for the Scarlet Knights to eek out a win here. Rutgers 24, Maryland 21
Nick Kosko: Well as I write this, the news came out that Johnny Langan is starting at QB for Art Sitkowski as it looks like he’s going to attempt to redshirt. The carousel continues and the Nunzio Campanile (interim) era begins with him plugging in his former high school quarterback. This is going to be fascinating. Oh yes, there is a game on Saturday. Maryland wiped the floor with Syracuse but has come back down to Earth, particularly with the 59-0 loss to Penn State last week. I would like to give Campanile some credit with his offensive philosophies and the fact that he could possibly spark Rutgers to a competitive game this weekend, but, I need to see it to believe it first. In our season predictions, I said this would be the defining stretch of winnable games if Rutgers was going to make some noise this year, but from what we’ve seen so far, let’s see if they can win just one of these against the Big Ten opponents within their reach. Maryland 35, Rutgers 10
Patrick Mella: I expect Rutgers to play better than we’ve seen for most this season. I think Coach Campanile will have the team fired up, maybe even be leading by half. But frankly Rutgers makes it difficult for Rutgers to win a game. Bad execution, costly penalties, turnovers, bad tackling, on and on. I’m not trying to kill the team. It just makes it so much more difficult to win in the Big Ten making those kinds of mistakes. But this is a winnable game for Rutgers. I’m tempted to pick them outright but I just can’t until I see them play better. I think they play Maryland tough into the 3rd quarter but fall a bit short. Maryland 28, Rutgers 17
David Anderson: It would have been nice is this matchup came in Nunzio Campanile’s 3rd or 4th game as interim coach AND offensive coordinator because he has never done either at the college level and would have been able to work out the kinks. Never thought I’d say this until a week or so ago, but the lack of Art Sitkowski will dramatically impact Rutgers’s chances in this game. Both teams will likely have the same game plan, but I think UMD is just better at running the ball even though Andy Buh knows their personnel quite well. RU is going to want to run the ball as much as possible with new coach and quarterback. Maryland will play nine men in the box if that’s what it takes (though I don’t think they will need to.) Rutgers will be unable to get first downs and rest their defense. Eventually the Terrapins will break a few runs on the RU defense and then run wild for the remainder of the game. I am picking Maryland, but if Rutgers gets the momentum and starts to get the ball rolling we could see the opposite result. Maryland 29, Rutgers 10
Danny Burrick: I feel that Rutgers will come out with extra energy to start this game and have it stay with them throughout the entire game. With Johnny Langan being named the starter, he will look to come out and prove himself to everybody making this game even more interesting then it already is. Look for another big game out of Raheem Blackshear. I feel that Rutgers does have a good shot to win this game but the question is will they be able to close out a tight game late in the 4th? Maryland 20, Rutgers 13
Aaron Breitman: These two teams have produced some pretty entertaining games over the past few years (not counting last season) and I expect that to be the case once again on Saturday. I do expect Rutgers to play spirited football and be much more aggressive with play calling. I think there is no question that Maryland has more talent, especially on offense. However, due to their Jekyll and Hyde persona so far this season, as well as Rutgers likely to play with a lot of emotion, I think it will be a close, hard fought battle. Hard to know what to expect out of Rutgers, particularly on offense with Johnny Langan under center. A heavy dose of Pacheco and Blackshear is a must, but not sure it will be enough. Ultimately, I think Maryland is more efficient and the drain of this week takes its toll late on Rutgers. Maryland 34 Rutgers 21
Are we appropriately level in our predictions or too pessimistic? Is Cara a prophet? Let us know in the comment section as well as your picks for this game.