2017 football schedule analysis: Maryland Terrapins

2017 football schedule analysis: Maryland Terrapins

There might not be a program in the Big Ten with more opportunity for growth than Maryland, which is coming off a bowl trip in DJ Durkin’s debut and a monster recruiting class. But work remains to be done if Maryland wants to move up the pecking order in the rugged Big Ten East.

Now, the Terps look to take the proverbial next step in their evolution under Durkin. If the Terrapins are going to make progress, they will need to navigate a tough schedule.

Here is a look at Maryland’s 2017 schedule.

Toughest non-conference game: The season opens with a trip to Texas on Sept. 2. Oh, boy. Yes, the Longhorns have struggled in recent years, going 16-21 the last three seasons and missing the postseason each of the last two years. But the Longhorns have a new coach in Tom Herman, who went 22-4 the last two years at Houston. And UT always has talent … lots of talent. The Terps are 0-3 all-time vs. Texas, last playing in 1978 in the Sun Bowl. Maryland last was in Austin in 1959. Interesting fact: The Terrapins have been shut out in each of their three meetings vs. UT, losing by a combined 102-0.

Toughest conference game: The Oct. 7 game at Ohio State will be daunting. The Terrapins have been manhandled in each of their three meetings with the Buckeyes as a member of the Big Ten, going 0-3 and losing by an average score of 54-18 (being outscored 163-55). Last year, OSU won, 62-3.

Who they don’t play: Good news and bad news. Maryland misses Purdue, Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa.

Easiest game: The visit from nearby Towson on Sept. 9 should be just what the doctor ordered coming off the season-opening junket to Texas. The Big Ten doesn’t want its members to play FCS schools. But, what the heck. Not only is Towson a FCS team … it’s a bad FCS team, going 4-7 last year.

Toughest stretch: The last three games will be daunting, as the Terps play Michigan, at Michigan State and vs. Penn State. Maryland must navigate those three games while potentially battling for a bowl slot in the season’s final stages.

Best chance to be upset: Central Florida comes to College Park on Sept. 23, the third game of the season. The Terrapins need to be careful. The Golden Knights went 6-7 last season and played in a bowl, but this is a rising program under second-year coach Scott Frost. Maryland needed double overtime to beat UCF last year in Orlando, 30-24.

Best chance to pull an upset: Maryland figures to be an underdog when it plays at Michigan State on Nov. 18 in the penultimate game of the season. Questions hang over the Spartans, who are coming off a 3-9 season and missed a bowl for the first time since 2006 and first time ever under Mark Dantonio. MSU is 2-1 vs. Maryland since the Terps joined the Big Ten, but Maryland won last year vs. the Spartans.

Must win: If the Terrapins want to return to the postseason, they need to beat Indiana and Rutgers on consecutive Saturdays, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. Scratching out six wins to attain bowl eligibility may be a challenge, which makes victories vs. the Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights priorities. The Terps are 1-2 vs. IU since joining the Big Ten, losing the last two. Maryland is 2-1 vs. RU since both joined the Big Ten, winning the last two meetings. This year’s game is at iconic Yankee Stadium.

Bye week: This comes way too early, as the Terps are off on Sept. 16 after playing just two games. The off week comes between home games vs. Towson and UCF.

2017 MARYLAND SCHEDULE
Sept. 2 at Texas
Sept. 9 Towson
Sept. 23 UCF
Sept. 30 at Minnesota
Oct. 7 at Ohio State
Oct. 14 Northwestern
Oct. 21 at Wisconsin
Oct. 28 Indiana
Nov. 4 Rutgers (at Yankee Stadium)
Nov. 11 Michigan
Nov. 18 at Michigan State
Nov. 25 Penn State

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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