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Calmer Seas on Maryland's Schedule's Horizon

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While there are a few reasons you shouldn't be panicking after Maryland's embarrassing defeat at the hands of Cal, one of the bigger ones that I didn't mention is that the schedule really starts to die down in the coming weeks.

The Terps take on James Madison next Saturday, and Middle Tennessee State the next. Both of those games should be wins (last year's MTSU implosion be damned). Rutgers is up the week after that, but I'm not impressed with the Scarlet Knights' team this year, and the game should be about 50-50. After that, they get Clemson at home - it probably should be a loss, but Clemson isn't great this year and the game is definitely winnable, especially at Byrd. Then Maryland travels to Wake Forest, who looked wholly unimpressive against a mediocre Baylor team.

After that stretch, there's a duo of games that should be gimmes - home against Virginia and at Duke - and another very winnable game against North Carolina State. The first "sure loss" game doesn't come for another eight weeks, when Maryland goes against Virginia Tech in College Park. 

Obviously, Maryland won't win all of those games, but four "should wins" (JMU, MTSU, UVA, Duke) and four toss-ups (Rutgers, Clemson, Wake, NCSt) with no big-time opponents is a great ratio. Maryland has a decent chance of achieving bowl eligibility before they ever have to face a top-tier opponent. If Maryland can pull out that first Rutgers game, their confidence could grow and start to snowball into a dangerous opponent. Or, of course, they could blow a should-win and probably ruin any chance at a bowl.

That last possibility notwithstanding, the upcoming easy schedule is a reason to not feel deathly scared of this team winning only three games.