Buffalo vs. Maryland Odds, Picks: The First-Half Bet to Make (Sept. 3)
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images. Pictured: Taulia Tagovailoa (Maryland)
- The Buffalo Bulls and Maryland Terrapins meet in Week 1 of the college football season Saturday.
- The Terps enter as four-possession favorites in this one, but we see more value on them in the first half.
- Check out Dan Keegan's full betting preview, complete with his top pick for this game, below.
Buffalo vs. Maryland Odds
The offseason waters were choppy for the Maryland Terrapins, with 14 players departing the roster and finding new FBS homes.
That said, the offense returns mostly intact, including the core elements of what will be a competent passing attack.
Their offseason seems downright stable compared to Buffalo’s last two years.
Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold left in May 2021 offseason to clean up the mess in Lawrence, Kansas.
Maurice Linguist was the co-defensive coordinator at Michigan when he was tabbed to lead the program for the Bulls, a full month after the spring game. They sputtered to a 4-8 finish in the MAC, and the roster again suffered a lot of turnover.
This is still very much a program in transition early in the Linguist era.
Despite the unknowns on both rosters due to turnover — the new normal in the sport — Maryland will have a clear, significant advantage with its passing game, in addition to a higher baseline of talent as a Big Ten team.
Buffalo’s defense was brutal last season by any measure. Despite Linguist’s background on that side of the ball, his unit was not up to par.
Choose your preferred metric.
- The Bulls were 111th in defensive SP+.
- The Bulls defense ranked outside the top 100 in surrendering both efficient drives and explosive drives, per Beta_Rank.
- They ranked 126th in PFF’s coverage grade — a poor sign against this Terps’ wide receiver room.
They did rank 8th in PFF’s pass rush grade — although the top-two graded rushers (Eric Black and Taylor Riggins) are gone this year. LB James Patterson and DT Daymond Williams are likely to be among the few bright spots of another leaky defense.
Bottom line: If you wanted to do something with the ball, the 2021 Bulls were likely accommodating.
In the back half, Linguist’s move to shore up the secondary was to bring in a number of transfers from Power 5 programs. Only one starter returns — safety Marcus Fuqua — and newcomers like Elijah Blades (Florida) and Caleb Offord (Notre Dame), among others, will be playing their first game together.
The Bulls have the top-ranked transfer class in the MAC, so it’s something to follow as conference competition commences. But in their first game sharing a field, I expect communication adjustments and kinks to be ironed out.
On the other side of the ball, roster churn is again the name of the game. Only three starters return on the entire offense, including only one lineman. Rutgers transfer Cole Snyder won the starting gig at quarterback after attempting a grand total of 31 passes in three seasons of mop-up duty in Piscataway.
Shane Montgomery coordinated an offense that finished 94th in SP+ last year. A lack of experience overall, and a lack of upside at quarterback, portends another transition year for this outfit.
It was a tale of two seasons for the Terrapins and Taulia Tagovailoa. When facing a defense ranked outside of the top 35 in SP+, the Terps were 6-0; when playing against that top tier, they went 1-6.
The splits for their starting signal-caller reflects the final outcome. Tagovailoa was a machine against the less fearsome opponents on the docket: 72% completion percentage, 318 yards per game and 16 touchdowns to 0 turnover-worthy plays.
Against the upper-echelon defenses? 65% completion percentage, 267 yards per game, and more importantly, only 10 touchdowns and all 17 of his turnover-worthy plays.
Buffalo’s defense is decidedly the type that Taulia diced up last year, and will not present much of a challenge.
The real story is Taulia’s weapons out wide. The receiver room is one of the best in the country and will provide the Terps their biggest mismatch this week.
Rakim Jarrett is the leading returning receiver (829 yards and five scores), but Dontay Demus, Jr. was out-producing Jarrett at the time of his season-ending ACL injury in Week 5. Demus is fully healthy and will be one of the top big-play threats in the entire country (16.7 yards per catch over his 106 career snags).
The treasure chest goes even deeper. Jacob Copeland led the 2021 Florida Gators in receiving yards (642) and receiving scores (4), and enlisted in Locksley’s aerial assault in the offseason. Jeshaun Jones has flashed potential and versatility in his four injury-plagued years on campus.
Look for many shootouts for the Terps this season. Four potential impact defensive starters left the program this season, and while Locksley hit the portal hard to replace them, there are some true freshmen in the projected two-deep.
These turtles could find themselves in track meets this season, but in Week 1, they will be able to score on the Bulls at will.
Buffalo vs. Maryland Betting Pick
Later in the season, Buffalo could come together with playing experience and fare better against its conference peers. But in Week 1, in its first game together, against a far more experienced and talented squad, I expect the Maryland offense to have its way.
Maryland features a passing attack that will be among the country’s best, especially with its deadly receivers. While the Terps could be held down by some of the true upper-echelon defenses in college football, Taulia’s Terps rang up big numbers when they had a talent advantage.
In Week 1, they will be facing off against a Group of Five roster that will have an all-new secondary playing their first game together.
The play here is to avoid the randomness of a second-half letdown or a backdoor, and take advantage of all the new spots on Buffalo’s defense.
Take the Terps in the first half (-13.5), or as long as you can get a number at 14 or under. I will also be keying on Tagovailoa props, taking the over on anything up to 270 yards.