The Maryland Terrapins ruined Tom Herman’s debut as Texas' head coach a year ago, upending the massively favored Longhorns by a 51-41 final score. It marked the high point of an otherwise awful season for the Terrapins, while it served as a sign of what was to come for a UT team that struggled to keep its head above water.
Life in College Park managed to somehow get worse for the Terps, as allegations of an abusive culture for players swirled around suspended head coach DJ Durkin. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has control of the team for the foreseeable future. That kind of upheaval rarely works out well in the short term for a program.
After last year’s debacle, UT will want revenge on the Terps in this matchup. Is Maryland in the right frame of mind to put up a fight?
Texas vs. Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 1 at 12 p.m. ET
Where: FedEx Field (Landover, Md.)
Spread: Texas -13.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The mood around Maryland
Clearly, the allegations against Durkin and the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair have sucked up most of the oxygen during Maryland’s offseason. That kind of atmosphere usually puts the players on one of two paths: implosion or inspiration. We’ll have a good idea after Saturday’s game which way the Terps are headed.
2. Texas’ ground game
The Horns fielded one of the most anemic rushing attacks in the country last year, eking out just 3.58 yards per attempt (110th nationally). Against the Terps, they ran for only 98 yards on 31 carries. UT will unveil its new ground game on Saturday, which should see marked improvement from a year ago thanks to a stronger offensive line.
3. Keeping Ehlinger upright
Part of that improvement running the ball should come from sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who’s arguably the toughest runner to bring down on UT’s roster. The first half of this year will find Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck walking a fine line when it comes to managing Ehlinger’s exposure to contact. When pressed into service during his freshman season, Ehlinger had a tough time staying healthy.
The sterile atmosphere at FedEx Field on Saturday for this game probably won’t set many pulses racing. It’s a long way from Austin, and Maryland fans haven’t had much to celebrate lately.
Perhaps a more subdued environment will offer the Terrapins a respite from the chaos surrounding the team. Even so, it probably won’t matter much to the final outcome. Texas has a score to settle and a roster full of more talented players. If the Terps aren’t into it, this game could turn ugly pretty quickly.
Maryland could take out a month’s worth of frustrations on UT. More likely, the Horns will add to Maryland's misery.
Prediction: Texas 35, Maryland 10
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.