Maryland will kick off the new college football season at noon on Saturday as they host FCS opponent Howard (12 p.m., Big Ten Network). Though this game does not have the same fanfare as last year’s opener against Texas, this is still a big game for the Terps and, given the brutal Big Ten East schedule, an important game for Maryland to get off on the right foot.
Here are four things to know for Saturday’s opener.
It’s the first game of the Mike Locksley era
No, we are not counting the six games Locksley coached as interim coach in 2015. This is the beginning of his term as the head coach of Maryland.
There is scrutiny over Locksley's selection as head coach after Matt Canada was put in an impossible situation last year as interim during the D.J. Durkin debacle and still took the team to an impressive 5-7 record. Locksley, who went 1-5 as interim and 2-26 at New Mexico will need to show the decision to hire him over Canada was the right one and a loss to an FCS opponent certainly would not be a good start.
A Virginia Tech transfer will start at quarterback
In his first year with the team, Josh Jackson will start for the Terps. He has immediate eligibility after earning a degree from Virginia Tech. He beat out Tyrrell Pigrome for the job in a closer than expected quarterback race. That can be seen in one of two ways. Either PIgrome kept it closer than expected and the Terps have two solid quarterback options or Jackson was not as good as many were hoping. On Saturday we will see how good Jackson looks under center.
Given Maryland’s frequent need for multiple quarterbacks in a season, let’s hope Jackson is able to stay healthy. He was the starter in Blacksburg until a broken leg ended his 2018 season in September.
Howard’s starting quarterback is Cam Newton’s brother
You may not have heard of Caylin Newton, but I’m guessing you’ve heard of his brother, Cam. Caylin is not leading an SEC team to a national championship, but he has proven to be a good quarterback in his own right.
Newton is the reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,629 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2018. He added another 504 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The knock on him, however, is that he is a gunslinger and not the most accurate. In addition to his 22 touchdowns, he also threw for 17 interceptions. If Maryland can pressure him, he is going to give up the football.
Howard is not afraid of FBS opponents
In 2018, Howard lost to Ohio by only six points in a 38-32 defeat. The year before that, they pulled off the 43-40 upset over UNLV.
You may not think of Howard-UNLV as a big game in the history of college football, especially when compared to Appalachian State-Michigan or JMU-Virginia Tech, but statistically, it is the biggest upset ever as the Bison went into that game as 45-point underdogs.
So yeah, it is safe to say Howard won’t be scared or intimidated by the Terp faithful at Maryland Stadium on Saturday.
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