Jacob Bova, Senior Sports Editor: Nebraska 42, Maryland 35
Nebraska’s offense showed signs of improvement last week against a tough Wisconsin defense. Going into that game, Wisconsin had the second-best defense in the country in yards per game, and the Huskers put up 493 yards. This didn’t matter much as the Huskers’ defense was similarly gashed for long gains.
This week, the Huskers will face off against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten so a shootout could be in the works. Before the Terrapins’ bye week, they gave up 73 points and 705 total yards to Ohio State. The Husker offense is not at that level, but they should find success on that side of the ball.
On the other side of the ball, Maryland has questions at quarterback and we could see multiple people play at the position. That being said, Nebraska’s defense has struggled to slow down any offense in the past few weeks.
At the end of the day, Nebraska is still fighting for a bowl game while Maryland’s season is over. I think that is why Nebraska will be able to pull out the victory in a shootout.
Drake Keeler, Assistant Sports Editor: Maryland 28, Nebraska 24
Coming into this game, nearly everything looks to be in Nebraska’s favor. The Huskers moved the ball with ease against one of the best defenses in the country last week without one of their top offensive weapons, while Maryland has lost its last three games by a combined score of 163-31.
Five of the Terrapins’ six conference losses have been by 25 or more points, while their only conference win came against Rutgers. Maryland has also dealt with quarterback struggles and may have multiple players take snaps on Saturday.
Nebraska, which needs to win this game to remain in the hunt for bowl eligibility, is in a perfect position to come away with a comfortable win. However, that hasn’t mattered all year, and the Huskers will disappoint again.
Throughout the year, Nebraska has failed to perform at its best when it needs to. This dates back to the season opener against South Alabama, where the Huskers only came out with a 14-point win. They also couldn’t take advantage of opportunities to win against a Purdue team that came into the game 2-6, allowing third-string quarterback Aiden O’Connell to lead a game-winning drive for the Boilermakers.
Against Indiana and Wisconsin, the Huskers also couldn’t take advantage of their biggest opportunities. Being away from home may have an impact as well, as Nebraska is 1-3 on the road this season.
Nebraska’s susceptibility to mistakes has doomed them during this four-game losing streak, and those errors will eliminate the Huskers from becoming bowl eligible.
Luke Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor: Nebraska 44, Maryland 40
Prepare yourself for some points in this one. With the exception of its 48-7 win over Rutgers in October, Maryland is allowing 49.3 points per game to Big Ten opponents, including a whopping 73 points to Ohio State two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s defense hasn’t fared much better, allowing 30-plus points each of the last four weeks.
It’s a big spot for the Blackshirts, which need to step up after being dominated week after week. Recently, sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez and the offense have done enough to win, but the defense hasn’t come through on its end.
“I forget the exact number but in seven years we were something like 61-2 when we scored 31 as an offense,” head coach Scott Frost said on Monday, Nov. 18, referring to his time at Oregon and UCF.
In losses to Colorado and Indiana this season, Nebraska’s offense reached that 31-point threshold but still lost, a troubling sign for the team’s defense. The supposed hallmark of defensive coordinator Erik Chinander’s defense, turnovers, hasn’t materialized either. The Huskers are tied for 57th in the country with 15 turnovers forced in 10 games.
Terrapin quarterbacks, especially Tyrell Pigrome, haven’t protected the football well, giving the Blackshirts a prime opportunity to make a statement. It’s still likely to be a high-scoring affair, but a crucial turnover or two could tip the balance of the game, as was the case against Wisconsin.