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Maryland, Rutgers will only go as far as quarterbacks take them

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Maryland and Rutgers have surprised a few folks around Big Ten territory, especially those who have never paid attention to the two programs before this season. See, both enter Week 4 of the college football season as nearly undefeated teams. Imagine what we’d be talking about had the Terps beat West Virginia or Rutgers opened up Big Ten play with a home win over Penn State?

Those two scenarios didn’t play out that way last week, and instead the two newcomers have slithered in to the background of the Big Ten conversation. However, dismissing them after one loss isn’t the wisest of decisions.

Both teams have proven they have the talent to compete at the Big Ten level, which was the biggest question most had entering the season. What seems to be missing for both is consistent play from the quarterback position.

Last week was a microcosm of the constant problem that has held the Terps and Scarlet Knights back over the past few years. Rutgers’ Gary Nova went 15-of-30 for 192 yards and threw five interceptions in the 13-10 loss to Penn State, while Maryland’s C.J. Brown went 19-of-35 for 241 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  He also rushed for 161 yards and one touchdown.

It wasn’t exactly a banner day for the two signal callers when it came to connecting in the pass game, which is frustrating because both have proven at times to be more than capable passing quarterbacks in the past.

Nova went 15-of-19 for 282 yards and four touchdowns passing against Howard in Week 2, and

His major issue has been decision-making, so much so that last season he went from start to the bench for the final three games. Nova has 11 multi-interception games in 36 career games, with just 13 games without a single interception in that same time frame.

With a schedule as daunting as Rutgers faces in the Big Ten this season it’s clear that Nova needs to have the light go on in terms of decision-making. That’s something head coach Kyle Flood is looking for from his senior signal caller, whose confidence doesn’t appear shaken after his second-highest interception game of his career.

“I don’t think Gary lacks confidence,” sad Flood at his weekly press conference. “I think he’ll practice well this week.  I think he’ll be ready to go on Saturday.  Gary knows he needs to do a better job managing the game, making decisions, but I don’t think confidence will be an issue.”

However, one has to wonder how long Flood and the Scarlet Knights will stick with Nova if this pattern continues. After all, he is a senior and if he hasn’t figured out how to be a good decision maker in the pass game then he likely never will.

In Brown’s case, he’s likely entrenched as the starting quarterback because he’s become the best running back the Terps have. Through three games he has 219 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 6.2 yards per game. All three happen to be the best on the Terps, so taking your best run option out of the game isn’t a wise choice in the Big Ten.

However, come Big Ten play there needs to be a multi-dimensional offense presented. Teams that are one-dimensional don’t typically do well come conference play — just ask Indiana before it found Tevin Coleman or Michigan from the last few years.

Considering the Big Ten schedules ahead for both teams, how these two progress in the pass game is going to determine how big of a role they’ll play in the Big Ten East race.

Even OK quarterback play will do for two teams that can run the football relatively competently. However, without quick improvement from both Brown and Nova, both teams are going to ultimately struggle to be competitive in Big Ten play.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

Buckeyes Football

Every Big Ten East Division team’s biggest question after spring football

Spring Football has come to an end, and the East division has stolen all the attention, but did all the questions get answered?

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Michigan’s trip to Rome is in the books, which means the Big Ten has finally and officially wrapped up spring football. Hooray!

But, along with the official end of spring football comes a lot of reflection. Programs will turn to meetings to discuss players, positions and coaching ideas going forward, while the fans will look forward to what the fall may hold for their team.

For us here at talking10, it is time to reflect and ask the tough questions after 15 practices and nationally televised spring football games (if you want to call them that). So, what are the big questions being asked across the Big Ten?

Last week we took a look at what is being asked around the Big Ten’s West division. This week it is the Big Ten East division’s turn on the hot seat. Can the division that has won the conference crown every year since the new divisions went directional and not ‘Leaders’ and ‘Legends’ on us maintain its hold on the B1G title?

Let’s look across the B1G East division, shall we?

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Badgers Basketball

2017 talking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards Special

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The Big Ten may have its awards, but what is the point of watching endless hours of Big Ten basketball without putting our two cents in, right?

Welcome to the 2017 taking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards special. Our hope is to educate you on the names that dominated our conversations and the hardwood across the Big Ten this season.

So, sit back and enjoy our special for your viewing pleasure.

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RU Football

talking10 TV: Reviewing Maryland and Rutgers spring QB battles

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The two newest members of the Big Ten also spent the 2015 offseason installing new head coaches and coaching staffs. It also meant resets at quarterback with two vastly different styles replacing what took place before at each university.

Join Andy as he breaks down what took place in the spring and see if anyone has really won a job just yet “On the Banks” or in Terps country.

Thanks to our friends at Tailored Media for all their work with us in producing talking10 TV. Make sure to follow them on Facebook for all your video, editing and graphics needs!

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Featured

Dwayne Haskins commitment could be turning point in Terps, Rutgers’ B1G journeys

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Rutgers and Maryland as rivals? It was just too easy to lump them in that category as the new kids on the Big Ten block ahead of their first season in the conference. Reality was, these two teams didn’t have a lot of history between them and a rivalry needed to spring up organically.

However, their end of the season matchup proved to be the most entertaining game of the weekend (if not the Big Ten season), and with Rutgers’ crazy comeback win it perhaps sparked something more than just wishful thinking on the rivalry tip.

Fast forward a few more months and these two were in a heated battle for four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Potomac, Md.

Landing his commitment was priority No. 1 for both schools on the 2016 recruiting trail, and as the process went along both became true contenders. Both saw gaining Haskins’ commitment as a way to spark an uptick in the future of their programs.

In the end, it was the two newcomers standing atop the heap and vying for an important commitment. Yes, Maryland and Rutgers were the two finalists for the No. 5-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. Hard to believe, but it was true.

Late last week Haskins made his verbal commitment, choosing to stay home and play his football for the University of Maryland. In that decision, Haskins made it known that the Terps and the College Park campus felt like home.

He also made it very clear that he wasn’t done recruiting and making something special happen for the Terps.

“I feel like Maryland is on its way and I think I can make an instant impact,” Haskins said, via 247Sports. “Maryland is on the rise. Me and a few players that we look forward to recruiting could make it special.”

However, for Rutgers it was back to the drawing board and option No. 2 at quarterback. The Scarlet Knights didn’t have to wait long though, as high three-star quarterback Anthony Russo made his verbal pledge to Rutgers on Monday.

While Rutgers was happy to have a quarterback commit for the 2016 class, there’s little doubt losing out on Haskins was a blow to what head coach Kyle Flood was hoping was going to be the class that turned things around.

Having a four-star quarterback who was top 5 at his position would have been a catalyst on the recruiting trail for Rutgers, no doubt about it. Why? It’s already been a boon to the Terps’ recruiting efforts for the 2016 class.

In fact, it was mid-interview after announcing his commitment that defensive tackle Jeffery Pooler made his verbal pledge to the Terps. While Pooler isn’t a major prospect, it’s just a small glimpse of the power that Haskins’ commitment could have on the program he chose.

No doubt that one player won’t make these two programs hate each other more…but it definitely will heat things up in the stands, on the message boards and that’s usually how these things are started. Someone has to be the villain in order for things to get really going, and Haskins’ commitment has the potential to be the final spark that ignites this rivalry.

Of course, that means Haskins also has to develop in to the guy everyone thinks he will. Lord knows we’ve seen four-star quarterbacks and Elite 11 participants flame out after coming to college. Still, you can see the vast potential for Haskins to change the fortunes not only on the recruiting trail, but on the field as well.

As long as that development happens, you can bet the fans won’t let him forget which side he “dissed” and which side he chose.

It’s hard not to see the decision made by Haskins as the one that could take a potentially budding rivalry in to a full-fledged rivalry — with some trophy to be named later too (because it isn’t a rivalry in the B1G without a trophy).

Should Maryland contend in the Big Ten East in the future and Rutgers struggle, look for this commitment to have a lot to do with it for both sides.

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