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Maryland football looks for positives going into season finale against Rutgers

After a long season, a win on Satuday would be a big deal for the Terps.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Maryland football had a 35-10 lead against Rutgers in its last game of the regular season, and was little more than 30 minutes away from securing a 8-5 record.

The Terps ended up losing 41-38, and haven't won a conference game since. Since that day, they've lost 10 of 12 games and are in danger of going 2-10 for the second time in the last five seasons. They came into 2014's game against Rutgers assured of a bowl berth, simply looking to pad their resume against a team they were supposed to beat.

This time around, the Terps are desperately looking for their first Big Ten win among uncertainty regarding who's going to be under center and who's going to coach the team next season.

"Winning the last game would be something we could build off of for next season, regardless of who the coach is, and we can send the coaches out on a good note if they are not back next season," said sophomore linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. "We can only control what we can control, so hopefully we can go out there and get a win this Saturday."

Senior running back Brandon Ross is playing his final game in a Maryland uniform this weekend, and is coming off the best performance of his career in the Terrapins' loss to Indiana last week.

"It was good to have the kind of game I had last week, being the last game at College Park, but now I just need to finish it off as a whole and go out strong," Ross said. "That means a lot, actually, to go out on a high note."

With Caleb Rowe suffering a concussion against Indiana and Perry Hills recovering from mono, it's entirely possible that Shane Cockerille ends up making his first career start at quarterback in the season finale. That makes Ross's contributions Saturday even more vital.

"We don't know what's going to happen with the quarterbacks, but we do know that our offensive line has been playing good all year, so we do know we'll be able to run the ball against them," the running back said.

On the other side of the ball, the Terps are looking to rebound after an ugly defensive game against the Hoosiers in which they gave up 385 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air.

After wreaking havoc on Michigan State's quarterbacks two weeks ago, Maryland's pass rush had one of its worst performances of the season against Indiana. Yannick Nagkoue did pick up a sack to break the team's single-season record in the first quarter, but the team didn't get to the quarterback after that.

"I thought they did a really good job and [Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld] got rid of the ball quick," said Maryland defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski. "He didn't really give us a lot of time to get there and I don't think we did a great job of timing up some of our blitzes either, but to their credit they did a really nice job of keeping us from getting into some of our different packages."

Against Rutgers, the front seven will have a chance to improve on its No. 15 rank in adjusted sack rate.

"[Sudfeld] got very comfortable, and he never felt any real pressure in the pocket, and he was able to step up and throw comfortable," Dudzinski said. "We don't want to do that. We want to try to get as many hits on the quarterback from play to play, and make sure he knows we're around him."

Carter has enjoyed a breakout season at inside linebacker, and he leads the team in tackles. The Fort Washington, Md., native smiled when a reporter asked him if he had any personal goals for the final game of the season.

"I want to win the game, but personally, right now I have 96 tackles, so I'm hoping to get to 100," Carter said, grinning. "That's one of my goals on the season, and I don't want nothing to be able to stop me from getting 100."