Big Ten Scouting Report: How does Maryland regroup before Penn State?

The Randy Edsall Era ended at Maryland just two weeks before a most critical re-match, against not only a personal rival but a long-standing measuring stick for the Terps.

Edsall, the York County native, never made it to Penn State Week.

How will Maryland's players handle the midseason firing of Randy Edsall? The first test is Penn State in less than two weeks.

How will Maryland’s players handle the midseason firing of Randy Edsall? The first test is Penn State in less than two weeks.

He was only 22-34 in parts of five seasons at Maryland and never won a bowl game before being fired Sunday. But beating Penn State by a point in Beaver Stadium last fall was a career highlight. It was perhaps his biggest victory at Maryland, to go along with that opening shootout over Al Golden and Miami and an upset of Virginia Tech.

Edsall, a Susquehannock grad, certainly improved the Terps’ academic standing and their recruiting — though that influx of talent didn’t arrive and mature in time to help nearly enough.

Now, the Terps will be led the rest of this season by offensive assistant and ace recruiter Mike Locksley, setting up a most interesting dynamic on Oct. 24 against the Lions in Baltimore. Penn State will be coming off a huge road game vs. No. 1 Ohio State. The Terps will be coming off a bye week and will be playing the first time under new leadership.

Who knows exactly what the Lions will see with a a new coach in charge, against a team with an extra week to prepare? Of course, who knows who will even play quarterback since Maryland has used three with only sketchy success.

Locksley does have a lot on the table. He must keep his players focused during the swirling debate around who will ultimately become Edsall’s permanent replacement. He must quickly regroup an offense that has lacked a consistent identity. And, during the toughest stretch of the season, he must handle the ship adeptly in order to help keep the Terps’ impressive recruiting class together, headlined by Dwayne Haskins, ESPN’s No. 2-ranked quarterback prospect.

During his first stint at Maryland, Locksley, interestingly enough, coached under former Penn State assistant Ron Vanderlinden and with current Penn State head coach James Franklin and offensive coordinator John Donovan.

Check out ESPN to learn more about the Terps’ new leader and where they may be headed.

How far will a legendary defense carry Michigan?

Jim Harbaugh has turned things around so fantastically at Michigan that some betting odds are putting the Wolverines in play to win the national title.

And that will be hard to argue if they they never give up another point.

Michigan owns the hottest defense around because of plays like this: defensive back Jourdan Lewis (26) celebrating his interception return for a touchdown during another shutout. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Michigan owns the hottest defense around because of plays like this: defensive back Jourdan Lewis (26) celebrating his interception return for a touchdown during another shutout. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

To understand how quickly things can shift in college football, look no further than Michigan vs. Michigan State this weekend. The Spartans still own the sparking 6-0 record but the Wolverines are the trending, hotter team, particularly on defense.

Michigan owns the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (6.3 points per game) and the No. 2 total defense (181.3 yards per game), which isn’t even close. The third-place team is yielding 248 yards per game.

The No. 12 Wolverines are the first FBS team in 20 years to ride a three-game shutout streak. And here’s more on how that has all come about.

The thing is, Michigan State was supposed to be that team this year, the one with the dominant defense leading to a true national breakthrough and playoff appearance.

Michigan State has had to fight far harder for their undefeated record than imagined. And its cost them in polls. Can they rebound vs. the Wolverines? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Michigan State has had to fight far harder for their undefeated record than imagined. And its cost them in polls. Can they rebound vs. the Wolverines? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

But after barely getting by awful Purdue and surviving dysfunctional Rutgers, not only has the Spartans’ defensive numbers plummeted, so has their reputation inside and out of the league.

Will we see a more focused, sharp Michigan State team during Saturday’s battle at the Big House?. They simply may be running into a buzzsaw.

Here’s a breakdown of where the Spartans stand now.

Knights may rise yet from the darkness

Rutgers may be the most intriguing team in the Big Ten the rest of the way.

Their high-profile, off-field problems have certainly led to their most disappointing 2-3 start. And yet considering their abundance of talent, and how star receiver Leonte Carroo and head coach Kyle Flood are now back after suspensions?

Rutgers may be the Big Team most likely to pull a surprising upset over the final seven weeks.

With star receiver  Leonte Carroo back in action, Rutgers has the chance to turn heads in the second half. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

With star receiver Leonte Carroo back in action, Rutgers has the chance to turn heads in the second half. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Take last Saturday’s game against undefeated Michigan State. Quarterback Chris Laviano’s inexplicable spike on fourth down kept the Scarlet Knights from at least one final attempt at sending the game into overtime.

That latest loss puts even more pressure on Rutgers’ chances to reach a bowl game. They may need a victory this weekend over Indiana to get there.

Afterward, they play No. 1 Ohio State, travel to Wisconsin (4-2) and surging Michigan. Just like Penn State, though, at least they do get to play Army (1-5).

More than breaking bad luck?

The Nebraska Cornhuskers may be the most unfortunate team in the nation.

But that’s of little comfort to their stunned fans who certainly will be making life tough on new head coach Mike Riley. Deserving or not, Nebraska is 2-4.

Four losses by 11 total points. That adds up to the worst first half of Nebraska football in nearly 60 years.

While that is difficult enough to believe, losing each of those four in the final moments defies logic. (One monumental comeback ended with an overtime loss; Nebraska led in the final 10 seconds of the other three defeats).

Two weeks ago, the Huskers blew the lead at the end after failing to run enough clock by passing on third down … even though Illinois didn’t own a timeout. Last week, the Huskers ran three-straight running plays and couldn’t kill the clock because Wisconsin had too many timeouts left. The Badgers calmly drove into field goal range to extend the misery.

The rest of the season may hinge on Saturday’s road trip to Minnesota — another Big Ten West team with struggles but also one talented and dangerous.

If Nebraska loses again, it may be difficult to find four more victories needed for bowl game eligibility.

However, ESPN says its far too early to judge Riley in the midst of these meltdowns.

This entry was posted in Big Ten, bowl game, Fans, Football, James Franklin, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Randy Edsall, Recruiting, Rutgers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.