Maryland's aspirations of bowl eligibility are officially over, with a loss to Wisconsin dropping the Terrapins to 2-7 and relegating them to play three largely meaningless games to close the 2015 season. For Maryland fans, that isn't an easy pill to swallow. That the Terps showed some fight against Wisconsin might not make it go down any easier, but they can at least take some pride in having hung with a well above-average team into the second half.
What follows is a non-exhaustive list of the good, the bad and the in-between from Saturday's action at Byrd Stadium.
Denzel Conyers, linebacker. A converted defensive back who's now listed as a backup linebacker, Conyers shined against the run and the pass on Saturday. He had a couple of pass break-ups, a sack and a blown up running play. He's got a multifaceted skill set and tapped well into it in expanded action against the Badgers. He's got another year of eligibility after this one and should be an important part of Maryland's 2016 defense.
Jermaine Carter, linebacker. This season shouldn't cloud what a quality mike linebacker Carter has turned out to be. He's been Maryland's leading tackler all year, and he - like Conyers - shined Saturday against both the run and the pass. He closed off the middle of the field to Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave and his receivers, and he also worked well in run support. Beyond a 61-yard fake punt, Maryland's rush defense was outstanding against a Corey Clement-less Badger offense.
Perry Hills, quarterback. Maryland's quarterback had a bad day against Wisconsin's defense. Plenty of quarterbacks do. But he made a handful of plays and had some success on deep passes, an area where Maryland's struggled badly. Ultimately, he did enough to keep Maryland close, although not much more than that. After three 100-yard rushing games in a row, Hills netted negative yardage (although that's skewed by sacks) in 11 attempts against Wisconsin.
Mike Locksley, interim head coach. Locksley had Maryland obviously prepared to play with pride. The Terps ultimately didn't have the depth to beat Wisconsin, as the Badgers took control in the third quarter and never lost a grip on the game after that. But Locksley's been dealt a tough set of circumstances, and Maryland's 0-3 record since firing Randy Edsall has generally been out of his hands.
Special teams play. Maryland was supposed to have an edge here. Wisconsin's kickoff return unit had been one of the worst in the country, averaging 16.5 yards per return, and Maryland gave up a 98-yard touchdown run-back to Natrell Jamerson. Terrapins kicker Brad Craddock appeared to get hurt on that play, and backup Adam Greene missed a 46-yard field goal shortly thereafter. (He also connected once from 44.) The killers here, of course, were a 61-yard fake punt run that set up a Wisconsin score in the first half and a Jarrett Ross offsides call that nullified a game-turning kick recovery.
Maryland's 2016 recruiting class. This has nothing to do with the game on the field, but Trevon Diggs committing to Alabama is bad business for the Terps. Maryland will get over it, but not getting Stefon's (local) little brother is a big hit to Maryland's "movement" of local talent to College Park. It's probably more a difference-making loss than the one on the field. Diggs's commitment to Not Maryland came as a shock. When it happened, I was seated next to a couple of reporters whose day job is covering recruiting, and no one even remotely saw this one coming.
Otherwise, nothing in particular. Really, nothing changed for the worst for Maryland on Saturday. The Terrapins were playing a drastically better team, one projected by S&P+ to beat them easily. This is not a strong Maryland team, but nothing that happened on Saturday made anything different than it was on Friday.