Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week he will break down the biggest mismatch in college football. Considering the increasing number of Bowl Championship Series teams scheduling games against cupcake opponents, Mike's task is as challenging as getting more than five miles from the nearest Subway.
Greg Schiano and Ralph Friedgen are both in their ninth years as head coaches at Rutgers and Maryland, respectively.
They have taken different rollercoasters that have had nice heights, but have taken them to current mediocrity. Schiano's first two teams were 2-9 and 1-11. Friedgen's first three squads were 10-2, 11-3 and 10-3.
Schiano, meanwhile, sent Rutgers to gloriously new heights in 2006 with an 11-2 mark after the Scarlet Knights experienced only five winning seasons in the previous 24.
Two 8-5 seasons followed, records padded by conquests of Army, Morgan State and Buffalo.
Both teams were 8-5 with bowl wins last year. Both are in the doldrums now. One will be down and out after they face each other Saturday in College Park.
Now, 8-5 records aren't awful in many places. But pro markets yawn at such marks.
It takes more than Rutgers winning the Papajohns.com Bowl to excite New York/New Jersey. And, the Baltimore/Washington Beltway crowd didn't give a thought to Maryland prevailing in the Humanitarian Bowl last year.
The Wiz recently noted Rutgers was seemingly stuck in neutral.
The Knights' are 2-1 this year, with their wins over footwipes Florida International and I-AA Howard. For some bizarre reason, they play another I-AA team next week in Texas Southern.
Rutgers' loss was a season-opening 47-15 embarrassment at home to Cincinnati in a Big East game. That's how to fall off the New York City sports pages for a long time.
Maryland, meanwhile, is a lowly 1-2. The Terrapins started this season just as lousily as did Rutgers, getting mauled by the California Golden Bears in Berkeley, 52-13.
The Terps squeezed by I-AA James Madison in overtime, 38-35, then lost to Middle Tennessee State at home last Saturday, 32-31.
Friedgen showed his team a clip package of 31 plays from the Middle Tennessee game. He said that if any one of those plays had gone in his team's favor, it could have won the game.
And if Paris Hilton had brown hair, she'd be a brunette.
That Humanitarian Bowl bid that seemed so unappealing to the Terrapins last December might look pretty good this year because it's eight straight ACC games after this week for the Terps, and most ACC teams are at least the equal of Middle Tennessee State.
Rutgers, meanwhile, knows that no matter how its game at Maryland goes, it can hang with Texas Southern (58-0 losers to Louisiana Monroe) next week.
So the Knights have that going for them, which is nice.