1. So, Wisconsin fans know Maryland's had something of an eventful season. Can you give us the CliffsNotes version?
Maryland lost a lot of key players from its 2014 team that showed a lot of success in the Terrapins' inaugural Big Ten campaign. 2015 was expected by most to be a slight set back year for Randy Edsall, knowing that 2016 had the potential to be pretty good. A bowl game this season wasn't out of the question, but four or five wins was certainly possible, too.
Maryland's biggest question mark was arguably at quarterback, where the Terps lost C.J. Brown, who'd been with the team seemingly forever. Most expected Caleb Rowe to step in and make Maryland more of a passing threat this year, helping to develop the young receiving corps, which lost Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. But dual-threat quarterback Perry Hills surprisingly earned the starting job to begin the season.
After Hills struggled passing the ball downfield in Maryland's first two games, which included an embarrassing home loss to Bowling Green, Edsall replaced him with Rowe. While Rowe showed some flashes of success, he also consistently made terrible decisions, tossing nine interceptions in the three games he started. He also threw two after replacing Hills against Bowling Green, giving him a total of 12 on the season.
Maryland was now in trouble, specifically Edsall, whose team stood at 2-3 heading into a showdown with No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus. The previous two weeks, the Terps had been outscored 73-6 in back to back losses, including a 28-0 shut out at home against Michigan.
Maryland had signed Edsall to a contract extension before the season, mostly for recruiting purposes, but structured the contract in a way that only put the school on the hook for an additional $500,000 should they chose to part ways with Edsall. Rumors began to swirl that Edsall would be out following the Ohio State game.
Maryland played shockingly well against the Buckeyes for the first half of the game, but still ended up losing 49-28. The next day, Maryland officially fired Edsall.
Maryland appointed offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as interim head coach and he decided to go back to Perry Hills as the starting quarterback. The Terps almost beat Penn State two weeks ago and lost last week to Iowa, their fifth-straight loss.
Maryland should most definitely bounce back next season. Whomever the Terps hire as a head coach will take over a team that returns a lot of starters and adds blue-chip quarterback recruit Dwayne Haskins. But at this point, we're just waiting and speculating on who that will be.
2. What should Wisconsin fans know about Maryland's offense?
Hills, while struggling with interceptions, is a very good runner. He averages 6.4 yards per carry and is Maryland's second-leading rusher, trailing tailback Brandon Ross by just 3 yards. Ross is also a very good rusher for the Terps, picking up 5.4 yards per attempt.
Where Maryland has struggled all year, regardless of who has been under center, is throwing the ball. The Terps have tossed 23 interceptions and just 12 touchdowns this year. That's almost three interceptions per game. Those interceptions have also forced Maryland's defense to be on the field a lot, causing them to get tired and allowing the other team to take advantage.
3. And what about Maryland's defense?
Maryland's defense has given up 30 or more points in five games this year, but I think that really goes back to the offense turning the ball over so much. Their defense ranks 53rd in S&P, despite giving up 33.8 points per game, which ranks 99th nationally.
The Maryland defense is really vulnerable when it comes to giving up big passing plays. When you look at successful passing plays run by opposing offenses, Maryland is giving up an average of 1.48 points per play, which ranks 119th nationally. They had a great corner back in Will Likely, but the rest of their secondary has struggled.
Maryland also switched to a 4-3 defensive scheme this year and has shown some flashes of success there. Specifically, junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is having an incredible season, recording 10 sacks so far this year as he closes in on the school's single-season record of 13.
4. For Wisconsin fans making the trip to Maryland, do you have any eating/drinking/entertainment tips?
As a college town, College Park is light years away from some of the country's best. Fortunately that's changing and in the interim, there are definitely some places worth checking out.
- Nando's Peri Peri just opened a location in College Park. They have delicious Peruvian chicken.
- Marathon Deli is also amazing.
- Ledo's Pizza is a College Park staple.
College Park is also shockingly close to D.C., which has a ton of things to do. You can catch the Metro from College Park, but on the weekends they're often doing track work that can cause huge delays, meaning it might be worth driving into D.C. instead.
5. Do you have a prediction?
I think the game might be a littler closer than some expect, especially in the first half. But ultimately, Wisconsin pulls away in the fourth quarter and wins 38-20.