Rapid Reaction: Peyton Ramsey leads Northwestern's efficient rout of Maryland in debut with Wildcats
Final Score: Maryland 3, Northwestern 43
Brief Recap: Saturday’s game featured two quarterbacks debuting with new teams, and the results were drastically different between those players. For Peyton Ramsey, the Indiana transfer that is now the starter at Northwestern, things went well from the jump. He led an early touchdown drive and was largely effective in helping Northwestern build a big halftime lead. For Taulia Tagovailoa, the Alabama transfer that is now the starter at Maryland, things went smoothly on the first drive before finishing with three interceptions in the game.
Outside of the early field goal drive, the action was controlled by the Wildcats all night long. They held Mike Locksley’s squad under 200 yards of total offense for the game and forced four turnovers in routing the first game of the season.
Key Player: With all due respect to running backs Drake Anderson and Isaiah Bowser, a duo that rushed for over 170 yards, the answer here is the offensive player that was not on the Wildcats in 2019. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey is the newcomer to the team, but he immediately helped stabilize a position that experienced injuries and inconsistencies a year ago. In his Northwestern debut, Ramsey completed 23 of 30 passes for 212 yards while rushing for 47 yards with two total touchdowns. Ramsey truly brings a calming and effective presence to an offense that desperately needed it.
Key Moment: If there can be a key moment in a game so lopsided, it would have come early in the game with Taulia Tagovailoa’s second interception of the game. At that point, Northwestern had scored 14-unanswered points for an early lead with the Terrapins looking for some points and momentum. Throwing an interception on the second play of the drive put an end to that, and Maryland was never any closer for the rest of the game.
Key Stat: 6.1, the yards per carry gained by the Wildcats on the ground. Though Ramsey brought the balance and leadership to the offense, it was the ground game that allowed Northwestern to dominate in the fashion that it did. That effectiveness on the ground allowed the Wildcats to run the ball 53 times for over 300 yards in the game.
What it means for Maryland: The Terrapins now fall to 3-10 since Mike Locksley took over the program heading into 2019. Maryland is also riding an eight-game losing streak and heads into Week 2 looking for its first non-Rutgers B1G win under Locksley. Tagovailoa looked largely ineffective with many questionable throws, and the running game did not ever seriously threaten Northwestern’s defense. Where do the Terps turn from here?
What it means for Northwestern: For the Wildcats, they have to feel like they are on the brink of a big rebound season after a disappointing 2019 campaign. With Minnesota’s rather disappointing showing against Michigan, the B1G West continues to be “Wisconsin and everyone else” in the standings. With a typical Pat Fitzgerald defense and Ramsey under center, expect some upsets out of Evanston this season. For Week 2, the Wildcats will turn their attention to a trip to Iowa.