Down 14-0 to Indiana before running three offensive plays, Maryland football’s hopes of earning bowl eligibility looked all but gone. But 54 minutes later, the Terps came out on top, with a 4-4 record and four games left to win the two games necessary to get to that magic number of six wins.
Luckily, because of Maryland’s high Academic Progress Rate (APR), the Terps could find themselves invited to a bowl game with only five wins. That’s something they’ll worry about when, and if, they have to, though. For now, Maryland is looking ahead to Rutgers and trying to go 1-0 this week, just as they do every other week.
While DJ Durkin and the rest of the program may not be looking ahead, it’s too hard for us not to. Rutgers is up first, and looks like the most beatable of the Terps’ four remaining opponents. Michigan is surprisingly looking like the second-best option for a win after being ranked as a top-five team earlier this season. The Wolverines have fallen off a bit as of late and have had trouble scoring. Maryland will close the season with two currently ranked opponents in Michigan State and Penn State.
The Indiana game lit a fire under Maryland.
Before this game, the Terps were 2-9 in the Durkin era when their opponent scored first. Facing a 14-point deficit less than six minutes in, it would have been easy for Maryland to fold and feel sorry for itself, en route to another disheartening loss.
Instead, the defense and special teams units—particularly Darnell Savage—picked up the offense and kept the Terps within striking distance. Their play on the field matched their talk. It wasn’t always pretty, but Maryland got stops when it needed them and put up 42 points on a defense that held Michigan State to 17 points the week before.
Like it or not, Maryland and Rutgers will forever be compared.
Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland is 2-1 against Rutgers, with last year’s win clinching bowl eligibility for the Terps in the final week of the season. The first two meetings were much more exciting, with each team coming from behind on the other’s home field to win in a shootout. This year, The Terps are coming off their first win in four weeks, while the Scarlet Knights are coming of a 35-14 loss at the hands of Michigan after beating Illinois and Purdue in the weeks before.
While a Maryland win would get the Terps to five wins and in a great position to make a bowl, Rutgers is in an even more desperate situation, sitting at 3-5 with games against Penn State, Indiana and Michigan State after Maryland. The Terps are in a good position to make a bowl game, but a determined Rutgers squad on the other side could pose a problem this weekend.