Maryland Vs Rutgers: Least from the East

Brett GellmanCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: Jason McCourty #25 and Ron Girault #43 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tackle Da'Rel Scott #23 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Rutgers Stadium on September 29, 2007 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
While most fans in the area, if not the country, will be watching a marquee ACC matchup in Virginia Tech vs. Miami, two struggling programs will take the field in College Park when Maryland (1-2, 0-0 ACC) faces Rutgers (2-1, 0-1 Big East) in the Terps' final non-conference game of the season.

The Terrapins are reeling from a stunning home loss from none other than Middle Tennessee State for the second consecutive year.  It was Maryland's worst home loss in 12 years as the team has not fallen to a non-BCS conference opponent since an upset by Ohio in 1997.

Turnovers (four to be precise), penalties, and a Blue Raider spread offense that spelled trouble for the Maryland defense from the start allowed Middle Tennessee to escape Byrd with a 32-31 victory thanks to a last second field goal.  Key injuries for the Terps also played a role which forced head coach Ralph Friedgen to insert inexperienced players into the game.

All and all, if Maryland has any hope of salvaging its season from a dreadful start, it begins this Saturday against the Scarlet Knights. 

Rutgers is also having its fair share of problems as the team got decimated by Big East favorite Cincinnati 47-15 at their home opener.  And while the Knights team bounced back against Howard the following week, Rutgers only managed to beat FIU by an 8-point margin last Saturday.  Furthermore, starting quarterback and true freshman Tom Savage is a game-time decision.

A few things fall in favor for the Terrapins.  First, offensive lineman Bruce Campbell and safety Jamari McCollough will return to the starting lineup after suffering injuries against Cal three weeks ago.  Campbell will be able to protect quarterback Chris Turner's blind spot more effectively while McCollough brings senior leadership to a depleted Maryland secondary.

Rutgers also employs a more traditional offense which should make things less stressful for the Terps' defensive unit.  Maryland has been unable to defend the spread as we quickly learned when they played James Madison and Middle Tennessee State, so Rutgers' more conventional schemes should be a nice change of pace for the Terps.  However, I wouldn't expect too many sacks by Maryland since the Scarlet Knights boast a senior-laden offensive line that was rated one of the best in the conference.

Prediction:  38-33 Maryland.  I'm going with the Terps here because it is just not possible to make as many mistakes as Maryland committed last week.  They gave the game away in so many different ways and MTSU still only won the game by a single digit.  Also, Rutgers just isn't very good.  Then again, neither are the Terps, but the Scarlet Knights lack the offensive weapons to match the explosiveness of running back Da'Rel Scott and wide receiver/kick returner Torrey Smith.