By Grant Whittington
It will likely be an emotional affair for the Terps on Saturday, as Maryland hosts Rutgers on senior night in College Park. Maryland will pay respects and honor 22 senior football players who are playing their final home game in a Maryland uniform. Among those are six-year quarterback C.J. Brown, defensive lineman Andre Monroe, linebacker Cole Farrand and wide receiver Deon Long.
“It’s going to be weird not seeing C.J. (Brown) as Maryland’s quarterback,” senior communication major Justin Lorber said. “He hasn’t played that great recently, but he’s had a great career for Maryland and has been the quarterback ever since I’ve been here.”
Last week Brown broke Maryland’s all-time touchdown record when he found the endzone on an 8-yard run against Michigan, scoring for the 54th time in his six years in College Park.
Rutgers, entering the game with a 6-5 (2-5) record, started out the season scorching hot, winning five of its first six games, with the only loss coming in a three point heartbreaker to Penn State. Since an Oct. 18 matchup against Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State, the Scarlet Knights have gone an abysmal 1-4, with the only win coming against Indiana, who is winless in the conference.
“I’m from New Jersey and have followed Rutgers for a while now, but they really are just an average football team,” said sophomore finance major R.J. Walton. “They’ve won the games they were expected to win, but always get crushed by the better team.”
Maryland is coming off a comeback win in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they defeated Michigan 23-16 after scoring two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter. At 7-4 (4-3), Maryland is in good standing to make a reputable bowl game, and will only boost their resume with a home finale win over Rutgers.
“I’ve been really impressed with Maryland football this year,” Lorber said. “I didn’t expect them to compete with the Big Ten teams like they have and since they’ve been winning, the students have been showing up pumped for the games.”
Student excitement and attendance can be largely attributed to the switch from the ACC to the Big Ten and the performance of the team. Maryland football has the highest increase in attendance in the nation, averaging 49,042 compared to 41,278 in 2013, according to a document released from the NCAA.
“I’ve had a lot of fun going to the games this season, but the Rutgers game is going to be way more empty because of Thanksgiving break,” Walton said.
Although the Maryland Athletics Department is pushing the slogan “Stuff Byrd,” attendance is expected to take a dip because students will be home for the holidays.
“I really wish I could make it to the game but it’s just a lot harder to travel back up to the stadium when you aren’t already on campus,” said sophomore kinesiology major Alexa Harris.
Rutgers and Maryland have both proved they can compete in their inaugural year in the football-dominant conference, but each team will be looking for a statement win in the last game.
“I could really see this being a rival game,” Harris said. “Sure, Maryland might have forged a rivalry with Penn State, but with both teams entering the Big Ten together, this could be huge.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPNU.