Maryland already has more losses through seven games of the Randy Edsall era than they did all of last season. To say this week’s contest against Boston College is a must-win would be an understatement – it’s the most winnable game left on the schedule and if the Terps have any outside hopes of a bowl berth, it starts here. As we always do, let’s run down the game unit by unit.
Boston College Passing Offense vs. Maryland Passing Defense:
Boston College has been awful in the passing game this season, ranking 96th in Passing S&P+, 91st in passing yards per game (197) and 107th in passing efficiency. The Eagles thought they found a target for Chase Rettig when senior Ifeanyi Momah caught eight passes for 171 yards in the season opener against Northwestern, but he suffered a knee injury and hasn’t played since. For Rettig, after an up and down season as a true freshman last season, he’s continued that year with some good games (351 yards against Northwestern, three touchdowns against UMass) and some really bad ones (70 yards and two touchdowns against UCF, 188 yards in 47 attempts against Wake). Thus far, he is 114/219 for 1,362 yards with seven touchdowns against six interceptions. Rettig’s top targets are sophomore Bobby Swigert (30 receptions, 286 yards and one touchdown) and junior Colin Larmond (26 catches for 443 yards and two scores).
Maryland’s passing defense has had their moments, but with a struggling and shallow secondary, that might be ending soon. They rank 24th in Passing Defense S&P+, 64th in pass defense (226.9 yards allowed per game), and 77th in pass efficiency defense. The Terps’ two starting cornerbacks have combined for five interceptions, and Eric Franklin and Titus Till have been piling up tackles at the safety positions over the past few weeks, but all four of them have been burnt throughout the year and have missed tackles.
Regardless, with the playmaking abilities of McDougle, Chism, and defensive ends David Mackall and Keith Bowers, Rettig shouldn’t be able to do too much.
Boston College Rushing Offense vs. Maryland Rushing Defense:
Montel Harris’ injury has hurt the Eagles’ running attack quite a bit. The senior has played in only two games this year, leaving most of the running responsibilities to Andre Williams and Rolandan Finch. Boston College ranks 92nd in Rushing S&P+ and 102 in rushing offense with 114.3 yards per game on the ground. Williams only has seven carries over the past three weeks, but was their main option at the beginning of the season and has 74 carries for 333 yards and three touchdowns on the year. Finch has come on over the past few weeks and has run 59 times for 266 yards and a score.
The Terps’ linebacking corps has been decimated by injuries, but the freshmen replacements have actually played quite well. With Darin Drakeford now back alongside Mario Rowson and Lorne Goree, that unit should be even stronger. Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis and Andre Monroe are great at defensive tackle, but all of that talent has yet to combine to consistently stop the run – Maryland ranks 82nd in rushing defense S&P+ and 110th in rushing defense, allowing 215.1 yards per game on the ground.
Advantage: Boston College. Until Maryland proves they can stop a team on the ground, they won’t have the advantage here.
Maryland Passing Offense vs. Boston College Passing Defense:
The Terps still don’t know who will start at quarterback tomorrow, as Danny O’Brien took the job back after C.J. Brown’s injury and did well enough to keep Brown on the bench. Either way, they’ll be without top target Kevin Dorsey yet again as he continues to suffer from injury. Quintin McCree broke out last week with the best game of his career, catching nine passes for 177 yards and true freshman Marcus Leak had his moments as well. The Terps rank 74th in Passing S&P+, 76th in passing offense (averaging 215 yards per game) and 106th in passing efficiency.
BC’s passing defense has been pretty average, ranking 68th in Passing Defense S&P+, 100th in passing defense (giving up 262.7 yards per game) and 68th in pass efficiency defense.
Off the edge, they start junior Max Holloway (23 tackles, five for a loss, two sacks, one fumble forced, one pass breakup) and sophomore Kasim Edebali (16 tackles, two pass breakup). At corner are senior Donnie Fletcher (19 tackles, two pass breakups) and junior Jim Noel (27 tackles, three for a loss, one sack) one interception), while freshmen Spenser Rositano (26 tackles, one forced fumble, one blocked kick) and Sean Sylvia (24 tackles, one for a loss, two pass breakups) start at safety.
Advantage: Maryland. The difference here lies in the two freshmen safeties.
Maryland Rushing Offense vs. Boston College Rushing Defense:
The Terps use the two-headed combo of Davin Meggett and Justus Pickett with a side of C.J. Brown when applicable. So far, they rank 42nd in Rushing S&P+ and 51st in rushing offense, putting up 168.3 yards per game on the ground.
Boston College is 64th in Rushing Defense S&P+ and 72nd in rushing defense (allowing 165.6 yards per game). On the interior line, they start freshmen Dominic Appiah (eight tackles, two for a loss) and Max Ricci (two tackles). At linebacker, they have Steele Divitto (41 tackles, three for a loss, one sack, one interception, four pass breakups) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (65 tackles, five for a loss, one fumble return for a touchdown, three pass breakups, one forced fumble). Oh yeah, and the incredible Luke Kuechly (118 tackles, ten for a loss, one interception), who is just strengthening his case as best linebacker in college football history. So if nothing else, watch him all game.
Advantage: Maryland. Kuechly is fantastic, but this is Maryland’s strength.
3-1 Maryland, but this is an awful matchup between two very bad teams. I’m going with Maryland 20, Boston College 6 in a snorer. Watch Kuechly the whole game and you won’t be let down.