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Maryland football is looking to break its Family Weekend ‘curse’

The Terps are 1-7 in the annual Family Weekend game since joining the Big Ten.

Purdue v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Maryland football has made an effort to pack SECU Stadium with fans, but when “The Shell” has been full with the families of Maryland students, the Terps have had no luck.

Since joining the Big Ten, the Terps hold a 1-7 record in the annual Family Weekend game, which will take place this year when they host Indiana on Saturday.

Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is still looking for his first win on Family Weekend, holding an 0-3 record in those contests (no such game was played in 2020). Last season was the closest Maryland came to a win on Family Weekend since 2018.

Game breakdown

2022: Loss to Purdue, 31-29

A two-point conversion stood between the Terps and overtime, but after converting, flags flew for an ineligible player downfield penalty. A failed second attempt sealed a Purdue win.

2021: Loss to No. 5 Iowa, 51-14

The floodgates opened when Maryland receiver Dontay Demus Jr. injured himself fumbling a kickoff return, sparking a 31-point second quarter for the Hawkeyes.

2019: Loss to Indiana, 34-28

Running back Javon Leake fumbled in the fourth quarter, leading to a field goal to put Indiana up six. When Maryland got the ball back, Tyrrell Pigrome threw an interception.

2018: Win over Minnesota, 42-13

The ground game led the way for Maryland, finishing with 315 yards rushing — including an 81-yard touchdown by Ty Johnson.

2017: Loss to Northwestern, 37-21

After Maryland jumped out to a 7-3 lead, Northwestern scored 21 points in the second quarter. The Terps got within six points in the second half but couldn’t outlast Northwestern’s ground game, which totaled 238 yards.

2016: Loss to Minnesota, 31-10

In Pigrome’s first start, Maryland didn’t score before the fourth quarter. The Golden Gophers relied on their run game, tallying 47 rushes.

2015: Loss to No. 22 Michigan, 28-0

In head coach Randy Edsall’s last game with the program, Maryland’s defense started strong, allowing just six points in the first half. But, quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for only 47 yards in an embarrassing offensive performance.

2014: Loss to West Virginia, 40-37

The score was 28-27 in the third quarter before the Mountaineers extended the lead to 10 headed into the fourth quarter. Maryland closed the gap with a punt return touchdown by Will Likely, but a 13-play scoring drive by West Virginia sealed Maryland’s fate.

Why Maryland has struggled

Maryland’s poor performance on Family Weekend likely has nothing to do with parents and families being in the stands and around campus, but the Terps’ struggles are surely noticeable.

Here are some possible reasons why Maryland has come up short.

Big Ten record: Maryland has an all-time Big Ten record of 24-52, with six of those wins coming against Rutgers. Overall, the Terps did not do much winning since joining the conference until very recently, so it’s not a surprise they have a poor record in these games.

Strong competition: Since joining the Big Ten, every team Maryland has played on Family Weekend has gone on to make a bowl game. This includes the two ranked teams they faced: Michigan and Iowa.

Start of the slide: The Family Weekend game takes place at the beginning of Big Ten play, when things usually start to go wrong for the Terps. Despite success in nonconference play over the past five years, the losses have piled up when tougher competition starts.

In every season since Maryland joined the Big Ten except 2020 and 2014, it has started 1-2 or worse in conference play.

Could this be the year?

If there is a game that will break the “curse,” it will be this year’s. The Terps come in as heavy favorites, and Indiana ranks near the bottom of the conference in most statistical categories.

Maryland also defeated Indiana last year on the road, with backup quarterback Billy Edwards Jr. taking over for an injured Taulia Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter.