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Maryland football tries to avoid a 2-10 season in Rutgers finale

Win or lose, Maryland's nightmare season will be over after this week.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football enters Saturday's season finale against Rutgers looking to avoid going 2-10 for the second time in five years. The Terps' 44-28 loss against Indiana this past weekend was their eighth straight.

This was always expected to be a bridge year for Maryland's program, but it became much worse than that. Maryland endured an incredibly hard schedule, couldn't stop throwing interceptions and just couldn't do much right all season. Rutgers has endured a slightly less bad season than the Terps have. The Scarlet Knights' only conference victory came against Indiana over a month ago, and they are ranked 105th in S&P+, while the Terps are 76th.

What we saw last week - Maryland vs. Indiana

1. Brandon Ross had a career day. Maryland's running back had 250 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 19 carries in his best performance as a Terrapin, by far. Ross took advantage of Indiana's weakness: giving up big plays. His career day came in his last game at Byrd Stadium, and was one of the highlights of Maryland's season.

2. A great start, and a terrible finish. The Terps led 21-3 in the first quarter. Two Ross touchdown runs and another score on a screen to Malcolm Culmer put Maryland in excellent position to grab its first Big Ten win, but the Terps quickly squandered their lead. Maryland couldn't stop Indiana's offense, giving up points on seven straight drives, excluding the Hoosiers' kneeldown before halftime. After its best performance of the season against Michigan State, Maryland's secondary let up 385 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air in what was probably its second-worst performance of the season (the Bowling Green game was truly a disaster).

3. Maryland didn't throw an interception. For the first time all season, Maryland's quarterbacks didn't throw a pass to the other team. They didn't play well, going a combined 21-of-41 through the air, good for a completion percentage of 51, but we've seen much worse. Much, much worse.

What we're looking for - Maryland vs. Rutgers

1. A Maryland victory. This is Maryland's last chance to grab a conference win this season, and (probably) its last chance to win a game with Mike Locksley as its head coach. Rutgers is objectively not good. The Scarlet Knights rank 107th in S&P+, which is 29 spots worse than Maryland, who comes in at No. 76. The Terps opened as two-point favorites for this game, but they opened as three-point favorites last week, so.

2. A reduced role for Will Likely. The corner started on offense and defense against Indiana, and didn't perform particularly well on either side. After he played just about every snap both ways for the first couple drives, Likely got torched for much of the game by Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr., and only made one catch for 4 yards on offense. Playing both ways is hard, and there's a reason most players don't do it. Also, Locksley said Sunday that he expects Likely has a high ankle sprain, so Likely might not even be involved.

3. A run-heavy gameplan. With Caleb Rowe suffering a concussion and Perry Hills recovering from mono, its entirely possible Shane Cockerille might make his first career start Saturday against the Scarlet Knights. Cockerille performed about as well as Hills did against Indiana, and Locksley can certainly adapt his game plan to Cockerille's strengths. However, when adapting to Hills's strengths, the team still couldn't do much through the air. Maybe Rutgers's 127th-ranked passing defense (there are 128 teams in FBS), will give the Terrapins some help.