The road is sure to get tougher and the competition stiffer. But in perhaps Maryland’s most anticipated season in school history, the Terrapins will open with what should be an easy victory at home against James Madison on Saturday. In Randy Edsall’s fourth season as coach, Maryland will enter the Big Ten this year with large expectations, enthusiasm at an all-time high and some key skill players back in the fold.
Running back Wes Brown ran for 382 yards while receiver Marcus Leak caught 23 passes for 393 yards in 2012 and both return after missing Maryland’s ACC swan song. With limited offensive personnel, the Terrapins went 7-6 last year and raised hopes for an early splash in Big Ten play. Selected eighth in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll, James Madison is an FCS program looking to bounce back from its first non-winning season since 2003.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: None
ABOUT JAMES MADISON (2013: 6-6): Senior safety Dean Marlowe leads a Dukes defense that stumbled down the stretch last season. James Madison, now under the direction of former North Carolina coach Everett Withers, lost its final three games and four of the last five in 2013, but Marlowe registered 77 tackles, one interception and seven passes defended. He is the unquestioned leader of a rebuilding team in a proud FCS program that won a national championship in 2004.
ABOUT MARYLAND (2013: 7-6): Edsall left Connecticut after the 2010 season and has shown a decent progression while upgrading from two to four to seven wins in his three seasons at College Park. Yet, he is still 11 games under .500 overall after losing two of the final three contests last year and may need a big season in the Big Ten to cement his status. He can certainly use another successful season from senior quarterback C.J. Brown, who threw for 2,242 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while being sacked 21 times.
1. Maryland averaged 39.8 points per game en route to a 4-0 start last season.
2. James Madison took Maryland to overtime in 2009, before the Terrapins prevailed 38-35 on Sept. 12.
3. Dukes LB Titus Till and DB Jeremiah Wilson played for Maryland before transferring.
PREDICTION: Maryland 30, James Madison 8