With the Maryland season soon upon us, The Left Bench staff has decided to predict the outcome of every Terrapin football game.
Justin Meyer , Michael Criscuoli, Harris Blum and Kyle Stackpole take turns tackling every game of the season.
Sat, Aug 30 vs. James Madison (Michael Criscuoli)
With Maryland coming into its first year in the Big Ten look for the Terps to test all their players in this game. Maryland will go up early 10-0 moving the ball very nice with the defense holding the Dukes to 40 yards in the first quarter. After the first quarter adjustments being made, Maryland will start to run more of the Pistol offense and use the four horsemen of Veil, Ross, Reid, and Brown. By half Maryland will be up 24-7 with the Dukes scoring on a long drive.
By 3rd most of the students will have left because it is either too hot or they are too drunk, after all Thursday and Friday are Freshmen move in days. By the end of the third, the game will turn into a blowout and the backups and 3rd stringers will be getting some action in this one.
Caleb Rowe will build the lead more for 3rd stringer Perry Hills to come in and finish the game on a good note and Diggs and Long will combine for 170 yards receiving. Maryland blows out James Madison 45-13.
Maryland’s current record: 1-0
Sat, Sep 06 USF (Justin Meyer)
In Maryland’s second game of the season, the Terps will travel to Raymond James Stadium to take on South Florida in their first away game of the year. USF didn’t have the best of seasons in 2013, finishing 2-10 and ending the year on a six-game losing streak in head coach Willie Taggart’s first campaign. Based upon USF’s efforts last year, some people might chalk this game up for Maryland, but it won’t be that simple. Last year was a rebuilding year for the Bulls and they should be stronger in 2014.
South Florida will be returning several players on the line with starting experience and their four leading receivers, including star wide out Andre Davis. Their offense should be much improved from a year ago, but the defense is where the biggest question mark lies. This is an area which Maryland should exploit. With most of the Terps’ skill position players returning, the offense should be much improved from 2013.
Much of USF’s defensive lineman are gone from last year and since this will only be the second game of the season, the inexperience will still be there for those players thrown into starting roles. To offset these losses, South Florida will be changing from a 4-3 to a 3-4. In only the second game of the season, I foresee the Bulls still trying to work out the kinks of changing their base defense. With presumably little pass rush, C.J. Brown will be able to find Dion Long and Stefon Diggs consistently, and when they aren’t open, we know Brown has the ability to leave the pocket and turn nothing into something.
This game won’t be a cakewalk for Maryland, but I predict a win for the Terps. Maryland will leave Tampa with a W by the score of 28-17.
Maryland’s current record: 2-0
Sat, Sep 13 vs. West Virginia (Kyle Stackpole)
A year after the Terrapins football team blanked West Virginia, 37-0, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the two teams will meet against this season in College Park.
The Terps wasted no time in that contest, putting 30 points on the Mountaineers in the first half in the eventual blowout win. Though I don’t think the Terps explode for 30-plus points in the opening two quarters this season, I believe the offense, led by sixth-year senior Caleb Brown, will overpower the Mountaineers. This unit has a chance to be dynamic, especially with the return of wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, both of whom were lost for the season after they suffered leg injuries against Wake Forest this past October. With a dynamic receiving core, an experienced signal caller, and four running backs capable of handling the rushing load, the Terps are poised to exceed their offensive production.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers lost six starters from an already mediocre defense. The unit allowed more than 33 points and 455 yards per game, and gave up 323 yards to the Terps a year ago. I think that similar to last year, the Terps will score early, forcing Mountaineers’ quarterback Clint Trickett and company to play from behind. The Terps defense will allow a few scores this time around, but the offense will score enough points to propel them to a victory.
Prediction: Maryland 34, West Virginia 17
Maryland’s current record: 3-0
Sat, Sep 20 @ Syracuse (Harris Blum)
In the Terrapins fourth game of the season they match up against the Syracuse Orange, a team that is coming off a successful campaign in the 2013-2014 season. Much of the Orange’s success was generated from an experienced offensive line that played in all 13 games together. Although the Orange lost Second-Team-All-American Center, Macky Macpherson, to the NFL draft, the unit up front still obtains a plethora of size and power. Behind this offensive line Syracuse is going to play a high paced, run-first scheme. The Terrapin’s defense consists of 9 returning starters from last years campaign. Darius Kilgo, and Andre Monroe will be key factors in this game as they attempt to generate a push up front and stop a run-heavy Syracuse team.
One of the Terp’s newest additions might just hold the key to their success this season, five-star recruit Damian Prince looks to help an offensive line that conceded the 74th most sacks last season. Everyone knows that Maryland’s aerial attack can be lethal; they are lead by Stefon Diggs who has helped to solidify Maryland’s status as one of the best wide receiving cores in the Big Ten coming into the season. However, the key for Maryland in this matchup is to set up a run game in order to control the tempo. Getting a powerful runner, Wes Brown, back this season should help Maryland to accomplish this against a well-versed Syracuse defense. If Maryland can control the clock, they will take the needed pressure off of their defense and pull off a much needed victory.
Final prediction: Maryland 24, Syracuse 17.
Maryland’s current record: 4-0
Sat, Sep 27 @ Indiana (Michael Criscuoli)
The first true Big Ten road game will start off sloppy for the Terps. A lot of fumbles and penalties in the first quarter will get Edsall not in a happy mood. Indiana scores on a play action at the goal line to take the lead early. After the first half the Terps trail the Hoosiers 14-6 thanks to Craddock two field goals.
Maryland starts the third quarter with a no huddle flurry of a drive to make the game 14-13 and the veteran defense steps up and forces 2 turnovers in the third quarter to make it 20-14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Terps 4 running backs combine for 210 yards rushing and the Terps defense makes Indiana’s quarterback uncomfortable the whole second half and has five sacks as the Terps escape Bloomington with a decisive 30-20 victory in their Big ten opener.
Maryland’s current record: 5-0
Sat, Oct 04 vs Ohio State (Justin Meyer)
Maryland’s first Big Ten home game will take place on October 4 against Ohio State. Ohio State will be heavily favored in this game and for good reason. The Buckeyes are returning many of their key contributors from a season ago when they finished 12-2 and continued a 24-game win streak that started in 2012. Heisman candidate Braxton Miller will still be under center for Ohio State and his dual threat capabilities could prove difficult for the Maryland defense to deal with. Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliot and Bri’onte Dunn could all explode at any point, receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer are back and the Buckeyes’ big target, tight end Jeff Heuerman, is entering into his senior season. Ohio State’s offensive line will possibly be their offense’s weakness and many core starters have gone. Still, this high-octane offense will get yards regardless. It will be on the Maryland defense to bend, not break.
Defensively, the secondary is somewhere opponents might be able to attack the Buckeyes. Bradley Roby and Christian Bryant are gone. Armani Reeves and Tyvis Powell will really need to step up to replace the talent of Roby and Bryant. By the sixth game of the season, it should be clear whether they will be able to do so. Even without Ryan Shazier, the linebacking core should be solid and the defensive line, led by sophomore Joey Bosa, should be improved from last year.
In many of Ohio State’s games last year, the games simply came down to Ohio State outscoring more than their opponents. The defense isn’t without holes but it should be better this year than last, but even still scoring and racking up the yards is plausible for Maryland, particularly with the Terps’ strong receiving core. However, the offensive firepower the Buckeyes bring will be prove to be too much for Maryland to handle. The Buckeyes will take this one, 35-21.
Maryland’s current record: 5-1
Sat, Oct 18 Iowa (Kyle Stackpole)
A week before facing off with the Hawkeyes, the Terps play their Big Ten opener against Ohio State. The Buckeyes, who finished 12-2 a year ago, are sixth in the USA Today Preseason poll and one of the most talented teams in the Big Ten. I believe the Ohio State game will play out much like the Florida State contest last season, when the Seminoles dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a blowout victory.
But the loss will be a wake up call for the Terps. I believe they’ll come out with something to prove against the Hawkeyes. Iowa will focus on establishing the running game with senior Mark Weisman and junior Jordan Canzeri to keep the Terps’ offense off the field. That leaves much of the game in the hands of the defense, and though they return their entire defensive line, I think they’ll have their hands full with the opposing running game, Still, I believe they make enough plays to keep it close. And after a low-scoring, grinder of a game, C.J. Brown puts together his best drive of the game, leading his team down the field with the help of Diggs and Long, and kicker Brad Craddock — who was awarded to the Groza Award watch list — hits a game-winning field goal and gives the Terps a much needed conference victory.
Prediction: Maryland 20, Iowa 17
Maryland’s current record: 6-1
Sat, Oct 25 @ Wisconsin (Harris Blum)
In the Terp’s fourth of five consecutive road games they face one of the toughest opponents the big ten has to offer: The Wisconsin Badgers. Coming off an extremely successful season, the Badgers look to roll into this big ten matchup with a head of steam. Going into his second season with the Badgers, coach Gary Anderson faces more difficulty than he did his first time around. Anderson faces the challenge this season of replacing all four of his starting linebackers, and four of the team’s six top linemen. However, you cannot forget the arsenal of weaponry that Anderson still possesses in his rushing game, and receiving threats. To begin with Melvin Gordon has quickly established himself as one of the most explosive back in the country. Corey Clement, and James White complement Gordon, the three backs combined for more than 275 rushing yards per game in 2013 which established themselves around the league as a three-headed monster of a rushing attack.
The Terrapins are going to be weathering some of the toughest opponents the Big Ten can throw at them during this road stretch, and this game at the back end of the stretch will surely be a tough one. Although Maryland may be able to pull out one or two big plays in this game, with aid from either Stefon Diggs or Deon Long, The Badgers rushing machine will wear out this relatively inexperienced Maryland front seven, and ultimately put this game out of reach for the severely under matched Terrapins. Coach Anderson is slowly creating a legacy for himself on the defensive side of the ball, and it will be evident when Maryland struggles to move the ball down the field in Wisconsin.
Final Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Maryland 10
Maryland’s current record: 6-2
Sat, Nov 01 @ Penn State (Michael Criscuoli)
With Happy Valley packed with over 107,000 fans, the Terrapins will commit a lot of false start penalties in the first half. Diggs and Long will have a slow starts which will make CJ Brown throw the ball more to the running backs and tight ends. Penn State will take an early 14-3 lead over the Terps. In the 2nd quarter, Maryland defense will once again stop Hackenberg and the Nittany Lion offense and Will Likely will return the punt to the house to make the score 14-10 going into the half.
In the third quarter, Maryland will be unable to move the ball through the air or on the ground and be forced to many three and outs and be down to Penn State 24-10 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Maryland will open up the game with a couple read option plays to cut the lead to 24-16 with one last drive to tie the game. CJ Brown throws an interception and the Terps will have to wait to become bowl eligible another week as they fall to Penn State 24-16.
Maryland’s current record: 6-3
Sat, Nov 15 vs Michigan State (Justin Meyer)
Maryland will welcome Michigan State to Byrd Stadium for the first meeting between the two since 1950. Last year, Michigan State won the Big Ten and defeated Stanford in the Rose Bowl for the program’s fourth Rose Bowl victory ever, capping a 13-1 season with an exclamation point. They’re again expected to be toward the top of the Big Ten and are considered a candidate for the national championship. Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford, Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery all return to stack the Spartans’ skill positions. However, losses in the front seven and the offensive line make those two areas Michigan State’s biggest mysteries heading into the season. Nevertheless, Mark Dantonio is a fantastic coach, and by November he should have figured out any issues his team was having in those positions.
Unlike Ohio State, last season Michigan State won many of their games last season with rock-solid defense, not offensive prowess. Many people will mark this game up as an easy win for Michigan State, but it won’t be that basic. One should never underestimate the power of home field advantage and in 2013 Maryland showed they can play a low scoring, grind it out sort of game where the defense keeps them in the game. You can expect there to be plenty of punts from both teams in a classic, Big Ten defensive battle to give Maryland a proper welcome into the conference. In the end, though, Michigan State has just enough skill on offense to push Maryland over the tipping point. The Terps will fall to the Spartans, 17-10.
Maryland’s current record: 6-4
Sat, Nov 22 @ Michigan (Kyle Stackpole)
By the time the Terps travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to play the Wolverines in late November, the season will be drawing to a close. Diggs and Long, barring injury, will have almost a full season under their belt. The running back situation, which features four players fighting for the starting job, will likely be figured out. And C.J. Brown or junior Caleb Rowe, the backup quarterback now, will hopefully have found a rhythm with the starting offense.
But they’ll be facing a team that might find themselves in the top 25 by the second half of the season. With the return of dual-threat quarterback Devin Gardner and standout tight end Devon Funchess, the Wolverines are a consistent running game away from having one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten.
When these two teams do eventually meet, I believe one of the Michigan running backs — whether it is Drake Johnson, DeVeon Smith, or Derrick Green — will emerge as a formidable option in the backfield. This spills bad news for the Terps, because they will have to focus on more than just containing Gardner. Though I think the Terps’ game plan to stop Gardner will have some success in the first half, it is only a matter of time before Gardner creates a few big plays, whether it is with his arm or with his legs. The Terps attempt to respond, but the Wolverines’ defense will make a few stops, putting the game out of reach.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Maryland 17
Maryland’s current record: 6-5
Sat, Nov 29 vs Rutgers (Harris Blum)
The Terp’s final game of the season is shaping up to be a fast paced, and high scoring game. As always Stefon Diggs is a threat of getting into the end zone no matter where he is on the field. Diggs matches up against a secondary filled with question marks. This is a Rutgers defense that allowed 31 touchdowns in 2013 after allowing just 40 touchdowns in the previous three years combine. The Terps will face much more resistance on the ground from this Rutgers defense, then they will through the air. Rutgers has the ability to get a big push by loading the box, so CJ Brown is going to have his work cut out for him here.
Question marks in the Scarlet Knight’s roster go farther than a battered secondary, quarterback Gary Nova is known for his uncanny ability to turn the ball over. This is something that the Terrapins must capitalize on to pull out a win from this Big Ten matchup. While Nova does have the reputation of a turnover machine, he also has the ability to strike for 283 yards through the air with 4 touchdowns like he did against SMU last year. The Knight’s rushing attack is lead by Paul James who averaged 5.65 yards per carry in 2013, and is complemented by Justin Goodwin. They will be running behind and offensive line that is said to be the most improved core on the Knight’s offense, but will it be enough to hold off a hungry Terrapin’s defensive line?
Final Prediction: Maryland 34 Rutgers 31
Maryland’s current record: 7-5
Congratulations! On paper the Terrapins are bowl eligible! We will soon see how it translates on the field however.
And we can’t wait.
– The Left Bench Staff
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