When: Sat. Nov. 19, 2016; Noon ET
Where: Lincoln, NE; Memorial Stadium (90,600)
All-Time Series: First Meeting
Line: Nebraska (-14.5)
Okay, it’s time to try and keep pace Nebraska. Yeah Wisconsin looks like a foregone conclusion on winning out and punching a ticket to Indy, but funnier things have happened in November aside from Donald Trump becoming the president-elect. This is when the weather turns and teams have to buck up and win games like they did in the days of leather helmets and broken teeth.
So who shows up Saturday in Lincoln for this first ever meeting between the two programs? Maryland started out looking rather optimistic on the season, only to have things head south faster than a snow-bird in winter over the last six weeks. But there’s still a shot at solidifying a bowl if it can win one of the next two, and that would be a step in the right direction in College Park.
Nebraska showed as the overachiever of the year up until recently when it lost a close one in Madison before getting absolutely blasted in Columbus. There is still plenty to play for.
1 Burning Question: Can Nebraska keep its Big Ten championship dreams alive?
There is absolutely no room for error. The ‘Huskers are tied atop the division, but by way of the win in Madison a few weeks back, the Badgers own the tie-breaker over Big Red. What we’ve all forgotten though is that Mike Riley and company still have a division title at stake even if they don’t get to Indy. Finish tied atop the division and the prize is recognition from Mr. Jim Delany that your team is a division champ.
But the Cornhuskers are looking for more. If they can win Saturday and then get things done against Iowa, they can hope upon all hopes that Wisconsin either trips up this week against Rutgers, or blows a gasket next week against Minnesota. Either way, it’s a great bounce-back season with the shot at some fairly significant things still in play. But for that to happen, a win is a must here.
2 Key Stats:
— 228.7. That’s the amount of rushing yards per game the Maryland defense is allowing per game. Nebraska hasn’t been able to move the chains consistently on the ground unless Tommy Armstrong is ad-libbing his way through defenders, but that could change on Saturday. The ‘Terps have been gashed in recent weeks and there’s no reason to think that Nebraska and running back Terrell Newby can’t have similar success. A two-headed ‘Husker offense is much more dangerous than one loaded “Gun.”
— 6. That’s the amount of times Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong has been sacked this year. There’s plenty of quarterbacks that have been taken down behind the line of scrimmage that many times in one game. But not Armstrong. His line has been fairly good at pass protection, but more than that, he has a sixth-sense to feel pressure coming and avoid the costly negative yardage plays. He moves outside of the pocket to keep plays alive, and he’ll be looking to do the same to make some key artist renderings against the Maryland defense on Saturday.
3 Key Players:
Perry Hills, Maryland QB: Hills has been battling the injury bug all season, and it’s no different for Saturday. As of the time of this preview, he is listed as questionable for Saturday, meaning there is much still up in the air. It’s no secret that he’s a big part of what the ‘Terps like to do on offense, so if he can’t go on Saturday, it’ll be up to two untested options with either Caleb Rowe or Tyrrell Pigrome getting the nod. Maryland needs their senior QB to be effective to really have a shot in this one.
Terrell Newby, Nebraska RB: Newby hasn’t had a banner year, but he’s had a consistent year. The 5-10, 200 lb. senior still has a shot at 1,000 yards on the season and would like to get closer to that by providing some game-changing moments against a Maryland rush defense that has let more people go than Moses in the biblical times. If he can get crankin’ and provide some chunks of yards on the ground, look out for Nebraska to have a big day on the offensive side of the ball.
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska QB: Yeah, of course Armstrong is a key piece of this game. He’s a game changer when he’s confident and free to make plays, but when squeezed a bit with pressure, he can be a loose cannon that’s too willing to throw it into tight windows and give up charitable contributions to opposing defenses. He’ll need to be his solid, yet explosive self when called upon to not get lapped on the way to the finish line in the division.
4 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Nebraska 31-24
Dave: Nebraska 42-31
Phil H.: Nebraska 37-17
Philip R.: Nebraska 28-20
Zach: Nebraska 27-13