Welcome to the new era of the Big Ten, and lucky for those of you who decided to enjoy your summers we’ve spent hours pouring over available film and speaking to writers, players and even head coach Randy Edsall. It’s allowed us to get as familiar with a team who isn’t all that familiar to most of the conference as possible.
B1G East Predictions: Indiana
That said, Maryland is a bit of a mystery team heading in to its first season in the Big Ten. Not just because most have never seen them on a field before, but because this team was a bit of Jekyll and Hyde last season.
In some respects this team has the talent to compete with just about anyone in the conference, yet in some ways it lacks the proven production and consistency to be a true contender. So, do we see the Terps as a surprise team, or will the first season be a wake up call to what Big Ten football is all about?
Let’s look in to our Terps’ crystal ball and see what it tells us, shall we?
Aug. 30 – vs. James Madison: WIN
The Dukes feature former Georgia Tech quarterback Vlad Lee and a spread offense under new head coach Everett Withers (former Ohio State coach). So the Terps could be in for more than they bargained for in this one, that is until you realize how much of a gulf in talent there is between these two teams, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It will likely be close until halftime adjustments are made and then Maryland pulls away for the win.
Sept. 6 – at USF: WIN
Just like Randy Edsall was once a hot coaching commodity so was now USF head coach Willie Taggart. Both experienced a severe bump in the road in year one and USF will be looking right the ship quickly in year two under Taggart. It won’t happen in this one, as quarterback C.J. Brown puts on a master class in what USF hopes its QB, Mike White, will look like in another year or so.
Sept. 13 – vs. West Virginia: WIN
There’s little question that things have gone south for the Mountaineers since Dana Holgerson has taken over the program, with last season’s 4-8 overall record and 2-7 finish in Big 12 play. It will also be an important game considering it will be the 51st meeting of all-time between these two rivals. Maryland blanked WVU last season, winning 37-0, and you can bet Clint Trickett and the WVU offense is going to want to erase that memory. With this game at home and Maryland having the better offensive weapons all the way around I expect more of the same from the Terps, with a big win in this one.
Sept. 20 – at Syracuse: LOSS
Something strange happens when opposing teams enter the Carrier Dome, something that I just quite frankly don’t trust. Teams that should win struggle, while teams that should struggle seem to come out of nowhere for the the win. In Maryland’s case they appear to be the superior team on paper, and there’s the whole 20-3 loss at home towards the end of the season to think about as well. I just don’t trust picking this game as a win based on history alone.
Sept. 27 – at Indiana: LOSS
I consider this a cruel twist of fate for the Terps, and that’s because this game could be the difference maker between which one of these teams goes bowling at the end of the season. Going on the road in the Big Ten isn’t easy, but if there’s a place where that is the case it is Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. These two teams seem pretty even on most fronts, but Tevin Coleman is a breakout star for me this season and he’ll be the difference maker as the Terps lose their first Big Ten game in history.
Oct. 4 – vs. Ohio State: LOSS
Maryland gets a rude welcome to the Big Ten in 2014, there’s little doubt about that. About the only thing going for the Terps in this matchup is that this game is at home and Byrd Stadium is bound to be…O-H, I-O invaded. Sure, there will be intrigue about the Big Ten home opener, but the Terps have never seen a fanbase that travels like this one does. It will be an intimidating task on the field and in the stands most likely. It’s safe to say I don’t like this matchup at all for Maryland.
Oct. 18 – vs. Iowa: LOSS
After a needed bye week things don’t get any easier for the Terps, as the Iowa Hawkeyes come to town. If the Terps didn’t get the message of just how physical the Big Ten is going to be, they’ll get it this week, as Iowa is perhaps the most physically challenging team in the conference. They also happen to have one of the best D-Lines in the league and an offensive line that’s up there as well. Give me the team with the better lines every day of the week.
Oct. 25 – at Wisconsin: LOSS
Technically this is Maryland’s second Big Ten road game, but there’s little comparing what Memorial Stadium brings versus Camp Randall in Madison, Wis. Sure, there have been trips to Clemson and Death Valley, but this is a whole new experience that’s at least on par if not more difficult than going to Clemson. It doesn’t help that the Terps are going to have to find a way to stop a Heisman Trophy frontrunner in Melvin Gordon or his excellent backup Corey Clement. Wisconsin gets an easy W in this one.
Nov. 1 – at Penn State: LOSS
Hey Big Ten, what the hell did Maryland do to deserve this? I mean, seriously. This schedule goes from tough game to tough game, to tough game without end in sight. Luckily this could be a coin flip kind of game because Penn State has a lot of questions to answer heading in to this season just like Maryland. Unfortunately for Terps fans, this one is on the road. Hey, at least the old rivalry will be renewed, right? Oh, and it will be a last second field goal that does the Terps in, just reigniting the rivalry in year one.
Nov. 15 – vs. Michigan State: LOSS
Finally, the Terps return home to Maryland…too bad its for a game against the reigning conference champions and our preseason No. 1 team in the Big Ten East. Michigan State is head and shoulders above the Terps in their first year as B1G members. Sorry, this could be an ugly one, depending on how Maryland’s defense responds against power run games in the conference.
Nov. 22 – at Michigan: WIN
Seven straight losses doesn’t feel good, but by the time this game comes around the Terps could be just sick enough of losing to find a way to pull a major upset. Then again, Michigan wasn’t exactly a power in the Big Ten last season…so is this pick really that big of an upset. So, why pick the Terps on the road at the Big House? One word: OHIO. I see Michigan taking a look ahead to the game against Ohio State, and Maryland is dangerous enough to pounce on that mindset. Look for this to be a touchdown or less type win for Maryland, a well-needed one no doubt.
Nov. 29 – vs. Rutgers: WIN
Nothing like seeing a fellow newcomer at home to end the regular season, huh? This should be a conference game the Terps are favored in and should win in my book. They’ve got the more dynamic passing game, the more dynamic secondary and potentially the equal of the Scarlet Knights up front on the defensive side of the ball. Playing this one at home and going in to the offseason with two Big Ten wins is about as good as it could get given the schedule.
Overall Record: 5-7
Big Ten Record: 2-6