Maryland returns 14 Starters (7 on each side of the ball) from a 6-7 2016 team that started off 4-0 before losing 7 of its final 9 games, including a 36-30 defeat to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl. Their 6 wins in 2016 were against teams that had a combined 20 wins. However, when the level of competition increased, the Terps were beaten to a pulp. In 2016, they lost by a combined score of 149-13 to Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska.
They entered the S&P+ Returning Production rankings 85th Overall, but with contrasting units (Offense 110th, Defense 24th). Fall Camp has a wide open 4 man Quarterback battle for the starting spot vacated by Perry Hillis. Caleb Henderson, Tyrrell Pigrome, Max Bortenschlager and even freshman Kasim Hill all have a legitimate chance of starting week 1. Durkin recently joked that he might name the Week 1 starter 5 minutes before kick in Austin. As of this writing, Durkin has a 4 way competition for the QB position with a scrimmage open to the public on Saturday, August 19th. At this point we only have a short 1 minute clip released by Durkin showcasing Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill who are projected as the front runners for the position. The point spread for the Maryland trip to Texas has stabilized at +17, with plenty of money coming in on the Longhorns at various books.
Maryland will continue to run an up-tempo offense that will feature their two returning dynamic running backs, Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison. The Terps who retained 3 Offensive Line starters, should have no problems moving the ball on the ground again this season.
DJ Moore, who led the team with only 41 catches last season, returns to lead a wide receiving group that will be expected to produce more in 2017. Moore brings the Explosiveness element the Maryland offense needs more of as he had 5 games with a catch over 30 yards, including a 92 yard scamper against Nebraska. The passing offense, which was anemic in 2016 at under 180 yards per game, will have an inexperienced QB and plenty of new names behind Moore on the depth chart. Durkin hopes they can find a deep passing attack, which would in turn require safety respect that will open up more opportunities for their potent rushing attack.
The Defense is anchored by Middle Linebacker Jermaine Carter, who had 110 tackles and 6 sacks in 2016. Maryland ranked Top 20 in Adjusted Sack Rate, but was terrible in other Efficiency and Explosiveness categories. With a significant boost in Returning Production, this Maryland Defense may surprise some in certain spots (possibly as early as Texas).
Expected Win Totals
CW Projected Total Wins: 2.8
CW Projected B1G Wins: 1.4
Posted Total Wins: O 3.5 -105
Home Field Advantage: 2.0
Opening Power Rating: 45.5
|Sep 2||Maryland||Texas||TEX -18|
|Sep 9||Towson||Maryland||MD -24.5|
|Sep 23||UCF||Maryland||MD -1.5|
|Sep 30||Maryland||Minnesota||MINN -11.5|
|Oct 7||Maryland||Ohio St.||OSU -29|
|Oct 13||Northwestern||Maryland||MD +8.5|
|Oct 21||Maryland||Wisconsin||WISC -19|
|Oct 28||Indiana||Maryland||MD +5.5|
|Nov 4||Maryland||Rutgers||RUTG +6.5|
|Nov 11||Michigan||Maryland||MD +15.5|
|Nov 18||Maryland||Michigan St.||MSU -9|
|Nov 25||Penn St.||Maryland||MD +17|
|Legend: Coming off bye / Overlook watch / Back to Back road travel / Neutral site|
Maryland is expected to have a Top 20 strength of schedule, trading FIU for Texas and rolling Wisconsin in over Purdue in conference play. The defense returns experience, and there is talent at the skill positions on Offense, but take Maryland Total Wins Under 3.5. They are only expected to be favored against Towson, Rutgers, and possibly UCF.
The point spread is spot on in the opener against Texas. Most projections make this game anywhere from -16.5 to -18 in favor of the Longhorns. Make sure to checkout the Week 1 Biggest Mismatches article (to be released shortly) for additional reading on the Horns-Terps.
Shane Cockerille (WILL LB) – The currently suspended Linebacker is practicing with the team in Fall Camp, but Durkin has not hinted as to when the suspension will be lifted. Terps need him at LB to help improve a run defense that allowed ~215 yards per game in 2016.
Markquese Bell (S) – This true freshman should play from the start. Part of the Terps top 25 recruiting class in 2017 which they can thank their new state of the art indoor practice facility, at a cool price tag of $155 Million.
Maryland is 1-14 straight up as a home underdog since 2011
It all goes right if…
Not much can go right with this schedule. They draw a Top 25 strength of schedule including Wisconsin and Northwestern from the West Division, in addition to Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. Brutal. A Bowl game qualifier as a 5-win team would have Head Coach DJ Durkin up for some National Awards. Things are looking up in College Park with this recent recruiting class, but it will take some time.
It all goes wrong if…
They lose at Rutgers. A loss to Rutgers would swap the Scarlet Knights out with Maryland for the basement of the B1G. It may seem improbable at first mention, but the Terps must travel to Piscataway and the line should be right around 7. Additionally, the scheduling spot is tricky for Maryland. After games with Northwestern, Wisconsin, and the 4-2-5 defense of Indiana, the Terps must find a way to focus for Rutgers. With the September bye week in the rearview mirror, this November 4th game may feature a tired and depleted Terrapins team. The schedule post Rutgers doesn’t get any easier with Michigan, Penn State, and a trip to Michigan State.
Maryland Season Win Total Under 3.5 -115
Rutgers +7 or better
For more, check out the full B1G Conference Preview.