There is something intriguing about unpopular opinions, mainly because if you are right you look like a genius, and if you are wrong, you can just chalk it up to guessing out of right field. Feels like a win-win.
My unpopular opinion is one that is honestly hard to even narrow down to one sentence. But basically, I think Maryland is going to be good. There are some caveats here, and I am not saying they are heading to the College Football Playoff and taking down Alabama. Nonetheless, this could be a fun season for the Terrapins. Maryland has not had an eight-win season since 2010, since they went 9-4 in the ACC. I am predicting basically that.
First of all, they have a top-five quarterback in the conference. Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa is coming off a season where he completed almost 70 percent of his passes for 3,900 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As good as Tualia is, his options are absolutely not limited. Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus and Jeshaun Jones are all returning to their receiving core, and the Terps added Florida’s Jacob Copeland.
Last season, Jarrett recorded 62 catches for 829 yards and five touchdowns, Demus recorded 28 catches for 507 yards and three touchdowns and Jones recorded 18 catches for 224 yards. At his previous stop, Copeland recorded 41 catches for 642 yards and four touchdowns.
The big loss for the Terrapins’ offense is running back Tayon Fleet-Davis, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs. Fleet-Davis tallied 128 rushes for 721 yards and eight touchdowns, and also had 32 catches for 305 yards with a touchdown. But with this passing attack, they only need an average rushing game, and with guys like Jarrett and Copeland, they can be very creative with their rushing attack to throw teams off.
Maryland also had 12 guys get named to various preseason All-Big Ten teams, including Tagovailoa, Demus and Jarrett. Taulia is up for second-best quarterback in the conference with Aidan O’Connell and whoever Michigan sends out behind the obvious No. 1 in C.J. Stroud.
One of the issues that Maryland will always (maybe not?) have to deal with is conference divisions. If they were in the West Division, they would have a much better chance to pile up some wins, because it is no secret that the West is not as good as the East. Maryland has to play Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State this season.
However, some conferences — like the Big 12 and ACC — have already moved away from divisions, and the Big Ten could be one of the next ones to do so, since it is wildly agreed that the divisions are unbalanced. If that happens, Maryland will have a chance to have some simpler matchups. That is also irrelevant to my point, since my opinion is about this season and their season schedule is already set, but I digress...
So lets talk about this season. Their non-conference schedule is very doable, playing Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU — all winnable games. In conference, they do get to play Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue at home. If you couple that with playing Northwestern, Rutgers and Indiana, their conference schedule does not look as daunting as it may seem.
It is still not easy by any stretch, and I don’t think they will contend for a title or anything, but the Terps getting to eight wins feels like something that can happen. And honestly, if it doesn’t happen this season, I am not sure when it will. The defense will have to hold stronger than they have before, but as long as they can help out Taulia and those receivers, they should be able to win some games.