After joining the Big Ten together in 2014, Maryland and Rutgers have slowly moved toward the middle of the pack in a tough football conference.
Both the Terrapins and host Scarlet Knights will try to shore things up before bowl season when they meet Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.
Both programs have obtained bowl eligibility but will finish behind titans Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the final year of the Big Ten East division.
They endured bumpy seasons to get to this point, with Maryland (6-5, 3-5) having lost five of its last six and Rutgers (6-5, 3-5) on a three-game skid.
Maryland made it close against No. 3 Michigan last Saturday in a 31-24 home loss, even as veteran quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw two interceptions and lost a fumble without recording a touchdown.
“You don’t win big games losing the turnover battle,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley said. “Losing that turnover battle 3-1 is costly. It’s the part of our program development that we have got to get fixed. We’re doing everything we can and we’ll continue to do everything we can to get that part fixed.”
Rutgers has watched its offense deflate over the past several weeks as it scored 16, zero and six points against then-No. 1 Ohio State, No. 22 Iowa and No. 12 Penn State.
Kyle Monangai, who led the Big Ten in rushing for a time, has been held to 39 yards for two straight weeks.
“Unfortunately Maryland is really good on defense,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “I think they are somewhere … in the top 40 (for) defense in the country. I was kind of hoping when I throw the tape on that I was going to see a defense that was so-so and we could get back on track. But these guys are really good. But that’s life in the Big Ten.”
Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt has not thrown for more than 130 yards since a win over Michigan State on Oct. 14. His season high is just 198, though he’s accounted for 15 total touchdowns (eight passing, seven rushing).
Maryland has won two straight and four of five in the series, including a 37-0 beatdown in last year’s regular-season finale. In that game, Tagovailoa went 25-for-37 passing for 342 yards and a touchdown and Roman Hemby rushed for 70 yards and three scores.
–Field Level Media