Who Has The Edge..Rutgers-Maryland?

Are you wondering where the advantage for each team lies in the Rutgers-Maryland matchup this week? SOR has you covered. We take a look at everything from offense, defense and special teams to coaching and intangibles as we let you know Who Has the Edge.

This week's contest is curious in several ways. We have a matchup of two BCS conference teams from major media markets that will not be shown on TV. Why is that? Neither Rutgers (2-1, 0-1 Big East) nor Maryland (1-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) has exactly captured the national consciousness, as each team was wiped off the college football map with a loss in the opening week.

The Scarlet Knights have won two in a row since falling flat on national TV in a 47-15 loss against Cincinnati in the season opener. Maryland was blown out 52-13 at then-No. 12 Cal to start the 2009 campaign. The Terrapins struggled against James Madison -- needing overtime to defeat the Dukes -- and lost a 32-31 heartbreaker at home to Middle Tennessee last week.

RU, playing its first road game of the season, is looking for revenge after Maryland pushed around the Scarlet Knights in a 34-24 decision in Piscataway two years ago. The Terps are looking to regain some confidence before the season slips away.

ESPN360.com will stream the game live at 3:30 p.m. ET. Jim Barbar and Jeremy Bloom will call the game. The usual radio suspects will carry the game across the Rutgers radio network. The game also will be carried on Sirius channel 125 and XM channel 219.

Let's get a look at this matchup.

Who Has the Edge in the Rutgers-Maryland game?

RU'S OFFENSE VS. MARYLAND'S DEFENSE

RU's ground game looked decent last week against a mismatched FIU squad, as redshirt sophomore Joe Martinek gained a career-high 121 yards. Fellow redshirt sophomore Jourdan Brooks, who gained 133 yards and scored three touchdowns the week before, was an afterthought. While the running game is seeing some consistency, the passing game looked out of sorts at times last week, and true freshman Tom Savage played like a freshman against FIU, failing to get into a real rhythm with his receivers. Still, senior receiver Tim Brown has back-to-back 100 yard games and leads the team with 349 yards receiving and a 24.9 yards per catch average. True freshman Mohamed Sanu leads the squad with 15 receptions.

RU is a middling Big East team in terms of total offense and ranks 50th nationally with 385 yards per game. Against two Bowl Subdivision teams, the Scarlet Knights have averaged 15.5 points per game offensively.

Savage told reporters he is ready to suit up for this game after suffering a head injury that sidelined him for much of the fourth quarter against FIU. But the coaching staff is not so sure he'll get the start, leaving the door open for senior Domenic Natale to get his second career start. He threw three interceptions against Cincinnati to open the season, but he scored the lone RU offensive touchdown last week with a 2-yard plunge against FIU.

The offensive line continues to look for consistency. Sophomore Desmond Wynn is back for his second start at right guard and sophomore Art Forst is making his second start at left guard after moving from right guard.

One of Maryland's problems in the early going is its youth, especially defensively. Also, the Terps switched from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4, though they will often walk linebackers up to the line of scrimmage to give a multiple front look. Maryland has not held an opponent to fewer than 32 points this season, including the 38-35 overtime victory against Championship Subdivision James Madison. The Terps have allowed an average of 466.3 yards per game of total offense and allowed Middle Tennessee to roll up 351 yards passing last week. Despite limiting the Blue Raiders to just 87 yards on the ground, the Terps are tied for 107th nationally in rushing defense.

Maryland has not shown the ability to stop anyone yet. RU has moved the ball well at times if not consistently. Whoever is under center, you can expect the Scarlet Knights to try to pound the ball on the ground.

Edge: Rutgers

MARYLAND'S OFFENSE vs. RU'S DEFENSE

Why does Maryland look weak so far? It's simple: turnovers. The Terps have fumbled the ball away six times this season and have committed a total of eight turnovers. Running back De'Rel Scott, an electric player, coughed up the rock twice to Middle Tennessee last week as the Terps committed four turnovers in what could have been a double-digit victory for the home side. The Terps are minus 5 in turnovers this year compared to RU's plus 3.

There is plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball for Maryland. The Terps have to find a way to get receiver Torrey Smith -- by far their most athletic player -- more involved in the offense. He has 14 catches and two TDs. Scott ran for 117 yards and a TD against MTSU and is averaging 91.67 yards per game. Senior signal caller Chris Turner has been solid and has completed 62 percent of his passes. He was 19-for-30 for 288 yards with two TDs and an interception against a Middle Tennessee defense that has allowed fewer than 200 yards passing per game.

RU's defense showed its capabilities against FIU last week, but the Scarlet Knights face a Maryland team that is ready to punch them in the mouth this week. The Terps have a 36-pound average advantage in the trenches. Co-captains Devin McCourty (CB) and Ryan D'Imperio (LB) helped lead the way for RU defensively last week, and D'Imperio registered a 38-yard interception for the game-winning TD. The Knights have been able to pressure the quarterback the last two weeks, recording seven sacks. RU also held FIU to 42 yards net rushing in Week 3. McCourty and D'Imperio have combined for 38 tackles on the season, and hard-hitting senior safety Joe Lefeged is tied for second with 18 stops on the year.

RU looked improved defensively last week, but the Scarlet Knights have to prove they can stop a physical BCS team. Maryland has the advantage in this matchup if the Terps can learn to hold onto the pigskin, but that remains to be seen.

Edge: Draw

SPECIAL TEAMS

RU's return game looks on the verge of making something big happen, but potential is nothing until it is fulfilled. The punting game remains solid with Teddy Dellaganna averaging 44.2 yards per punt. Place-kicker San San Te is 6-for-9 this season including one blocked kick and one wide attempt in the FIU game. His kicking is average through the first few weeks.

UM's Torrey Smith is a legitimate touchdown threat every time he touches the ball. The sophomore receiver/returner brought a kick back for a touchdown against JMU and leads the nation with 249 all-purpose yards per game. Punter Travis Baltz is fair in his punting but not great. Place-kicker Nick Ferrara is 4-for-6 on field goal attempts for the season. He had one of his three attempts blocked against Middle Tennessee and pushed wide right a 42-yard attempt that would have given the Terps a 34-29 lead with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Edge: Maryland

HEAD COACHES

This matchup features two coaches who have lifted their programs to better heights, and each is in his ninth year. RU head coach Greg Schiano who notched a win versus FIU in his 100th game as the Rutgers coach, is 33-17 over his last 50 games. Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen, coaching at his alma mater, won the ACC in his first year as the Terrapins' and has recorded a 65-38 career record in College Park.

Both head coaches are similar in their approach, and both have recently turned over coordinator duties to others (Schiano stepped down as defensive coordinator this year and Friedgen relinquished offensive coordinator duties last year). While similar, you have to give the edge based on head-to-head. Friedgen is 1-0 versus Schiano.

Edge: Maryland

INTANGIBLES

Rutgers got a big defensive boost with a standout performance against FIU last week. The Scarlet Knights shut out the Golden Panthers for the first 54 minutes and held the visitors from the Sun Belt conference to just 99 total yards through the first three quarters. Through three games last season, RU was 0-3. Rutgers needs to jump on a fragile Maryland team early if it wants to take this contest.

Maryland was shaken to the core with its second consecutive loss to Middle Tennessee. The Terps are wilting at key times and are playing like a team that is expecting to make mistakes. The Middle Tennessee loss caused Friedgen to go on a rampage, with the head coach vowing to be tough on his team. Key quote (courtesy of the Maryland athletics department, no less): "I am going to go back and start getting real tough -- we are going to do things the right way. We are going to play better next week, I promise you. I am not going to worry about guys' legs or how they feel; they need to worry about how I'm feeling. We are going to get back to work."

Seven RU players -- including starters Jourdan Brooks and Joe Lefeged -- are from Maryland. Nine Terps hail from New Jersey, including starters Phil Costa (C), Matt Furstenburg (TE) and Alex Wujciak (LB).

It's tough to tell how the Maryland faithful will react after last week's demoralizing loss. There's a chance that RU followers could turn this into a neutral-site game.

Edge: Rutgers

SERIES HEAD TO HEAD

Maryland holds a 6-3 advantage in meetings between the schools, including a 34-24 victory at Rutgers in 2007 in which the Terps dominated the line of scrimmage and sent then-No. 10 RU into a two-game slide. This is the first time Rutgers and Maryland are tangling in College Park.
Edge: Maryland

RECENT HISTORY

Both teams have been regular postseason fixtures the last few years. Rutgers has won bowl games each of the last three seasons while Maryland is 2-1 in bowl appearances the last three years.
Edge: Draw


Scarlet Report Top Stories