The Northwestern Wildcats (2-3) will travel to College park this Saturday Oct. 14 to face the Maryland Terrapins (3-2).
Despite the winning record, Maryland has had a difficult season, losing their top two starters Tyrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill to torn ACLs in the first month. They seemed to get back on track a week ago with a 31-24 win at Minnesota but got massacred at #9 Ohio State 62-14 this past week.
The Terps will look to get back on track against a Northwestern team that has lost its first two Big Ten games this season, albeit both losses came against formidable teams in Wisconsin and Penn State.
What To Watch For:
1. Defensive Line: Maryland isn’t getting to opposing quarterbacks a lot this season, registering 1.8 sacks per game. However, Northwestern has been the worst in the conference, allowing 3.8 sacks per game including 4 last week at the hands of the Nittany Lions. If the Terps can bring down Clayton Thorson, the Wildcat’s QB early and often, they should be in good shape.
2. Who is the quarterback?: There were relatively high expectations for third-string QB Max Bortenschlager last week. Needless to say they were not met and injury was literally added to insult when Bortenschlager was knocked out of the game well after Ohio State had the win secured. During coach DJ Durkin’s press conference on Tuesday, the media was informed that Bortenschlager is day-to-day, and signs point to limited practice time this week. Should he be unavailable the starter for Maryland would be Caleb Henderson, who transferred to UMD this past offseason from UNC. Henderson led the Terps’ only touchdown drive last week and was believed to be the favorite to win the starting job in spring practice so he likely would not be a significant downgrade at the position.
3. Presidential Backfield: Ty Johnson and Lorenzo harrison are undoubtedly one of the most prolific backfield tandems in the nation. Johnson specifically has won a couple of games for the Terps in his Maryland tenure, the most recent instance being his game-winning touchdown run two weeks ago at Minnesota. Expect this dynamic duo to have a big game against the Wildcats, who rank in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten in rush yards allowed per game at 135.0.
Prediction: Terps win 27-17. I think the Wildcats keep it close for most of the game but Maryland will pull away and salt the game away with their superior ground game.
Catch the game this Saturday the 14th at 3:30PM on ESPN2