Time:3:32 p.m., Capitol One Field at Byrd Stadium, College Park, Md.
TV/Radio: ESPNU, 1450 AM WCTC, 710 AM WOR
Series: Maryland Leads 5-4
Last meeting: Sept. 26, 2009, Rutgers won 34-13
Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (3rd season, 21-16); Maryland – Randy Edsall (16th season, 94-98, 4th at Maryland, 20-28)
- Tell the World I’m Coming Home -- Both sides downplayed the storyline, but the Ralph Friedgen return to Maryland is a big thing for the fan bases. The Fridge significantly built the Terrapin brand and coached college stars like Shawne Merriman, Domonique Foxworth and Vernon Davis. Maryland AD Kevin Anderson moved on from Friedgen after an 8-4 season and ACC Coach of the Year award in 2010. The Terps then brought in Edsall from Connecticut as the Fridge makes his return to the College Park sidelines as Flood’s offensive coordinator.
- A New Day -- The Big Ten’s two newcomers face off in what needs to evolve into a rivalry. Football is best when it is regional, just ask Flood. The Scarlet Knights and Terrapins overlap in recruiting, and have so many ties to each other including the Fridge factor and Rutgers defensive line coach Jim Panagos. This is not an Alabama/Auburn or Austin/McMahon rivalry, but fans now have an easy annual road trip with two teams looking to shake up the Big Ten.
- Senior vs. Senior -- Quarterbacks Gary Nova and C.J. Brown are both familiar with the phrase “up-and-down-career.” Nova sits on the brink of the school’s all-time interception record after setting the touchdown one earlier this season. Banged up and 1-4 in his last five starts, Nova seeks his first and only Big Ten road win before graduation. Brown took the rare sixth-year senior path after initially committing to Friedgen as a Scout three-star in 2009. Brown enters his senior day as the top impact player on the Maryland offense.
Rutgers linebackers vs. Maryland running back Wes Brown
Rutgers absolutely has to stop the run this week after major struggles since the start of Big Ten play. Brown is a solid running back for Maryland, but not in the same conversation as other Scarlet Knight opponents like Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon. Maryland has good, elusive athletes, and tackling remains an issue at the second and third level for Rutgers. That has to improve if the Scarlet Knights want the upset.
Defense Forces Turnovers -- Rutgers is at its best when Joe Rossi’s defense flies to the football, forces fumbles and attacks the ball in the air. Rutgers needs the turnover advantage and one or two big special teams plays. Make that happen, and the Scarlet Knights take the upper hand as underdogs in College Park.
Get to Nova -- Defensive end Andre Monroe is as tough as any at his position in the conference. Half a sack away from a school record, Monroe leads the Maryland defensive line against a hobbled Nova. Get to Nova early, fluster him, force mistakes, and the Terps take home the victory.
RBs Robert Martin and Josh Hicks – Rutgers had it going on the ground against Michigan State with both true freshmen. Flood started Hicks against the Spartans. Martin projects as the fifth starting running back for Rutgers after Hicks fumbled against the Spartans. The pair combined for 446 yards and five touchdowns as the feature players since the injury to Paul James.
Something to Prove
QB Gary Nova – Simply put, Rutgers needs to be better in the passing game. That comes down to execution and protection at quarterback. The Scarlet Knight senior is one pick away from a share of the school’s all-time record – something he would love to avoid. Rutgers often goes as Nova goes. With a 23-16 career record as a starter, one more win means a winning season for Nova and his team.
Looking to Build
CB Gareef Glashen – The senior cornerback was a bright spot during a rough defensive day for Rutgers. Glashen broke up multiple passes in coverage with the game still in contention. The Miami, Fla., native emerged as the top defensive back on the roster as a senior, and needs two more big games to finish off his career.
Freshman to Watch
CB Dre Boggs – Boggs underwhelmed in his role as the third cornerback against Michigan State. His role remains equally important for Maryland with Nadir Barnwell’s health in doubt. Boggs lost his footing twice for big gains in the passing game, including one that went for a touchdown. The athletic freshman remains new to cornerback. Rutgers needs a strong showing.