Maryland football already has as many wins in 2016 as it did in 2015. This was expected, as the first three opponents Maryland faced are not particularly good, but it’s an achievement nonetheless. The Terps made a bowl game only two seasons ago, and now are poised to potentially make one in DJ Durkin’s first year as head coach.
Maryland currently sits at 3-0. It’ll need to double that win total to gain bowl eligibility, but that’s a reasonable thing to expect now. Here’s what has to happen for Maryland to make a bowl game this season. It’s not complicated, really.
Step 1: Beat Purdue
This is absolutely mandatory. If Maryland doesn’t beat Purdue this Saturday, a bowl trip seems extremely unlikely. But assuming the Terps take care of business, their bowl hopes look increasingly good. We’ll be previewing the Boilermakers all week, but the main point to remember here is that they were even worse than Maryland was last year, and don’t appear to have gotten much better. This is as easy it’s going to get for the Terps for the rest of 2016, and they better take advantage.
Step 2: Beat Minnesota, Indiana or Penn State
This is what could end up defining Maryland’s season. It’s too much to expect the Terps to top the Michigans and Ohio States of the world, especially in DJ Durkin’s first season as head coach, so they need to win one of these games against more of a middle-tier — but still quality — opponent. Penn State (S&P+ ranking: 44) doesn’t appear to be quite as good as we expected, while Minnesota (35) looks better. Indiana (45) is right around Penn State, at least in the current S&P+. It’ll probably be hard, but a win here seems necessary. Minnesota is the only one of the three the Terps host at home.
Step 3: Beat Rutgers
This is pretty straightforward. There’s a very good chance that Rutgers comes to College Park for the last week of the season with a bowl game trip on the line. Rutgers is projected to lose every Big Ten game this season by S&P+, which also ranks the Scarlet Knights lower than Purdue. Maryland could be coming off a losing streak, as the preceding games are against Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska.