Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, May 10, 2016
Maryland is looking to get back on the bowl track under first-year coach DJ Durkin. But, a tough schedule could make that goal difficult for a team that has installed new schemes on both sides of the ball with some key personnel spots to fill.
Here?s a breakdown of the Terrapins? 2016 schedule.
Toughest non-conference game: at Central Florida, Sept. 17. Absolutely no bite. In fact, this is one of the most bizarre non-league schedules in the Big Ten, as the Terps play road games at Florida International and Central Florida-non-Power Five schools–after opening at home with FCS Howard. The game on Sept. 17 at Central Florida will be the toughest, as the Knights have a solid program with plenty of talent under first-year coach Scott Frost, the ex-Oregon offensive coordinator and Nebraska star quarterback who takes over for George O?Leary.
Toughest conference game: at Michigan, Nov. 5. Take your pick, what with Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska on the slate. Let?s go with the game at Michigan on Nov. 5. Maryland won in Ann Arbor in 2014. But that?s when Brady Hoke was coach of the Wolverines. Michigan socked the Terps, 28-0, last year in College Park. This will be a good measuring stick for Durkin?s maiden voyage.
Who they don?t play: Maryland misses Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois.
Easiest game: vs. Howard, Sept. 2. The opener vs. the FCS foe is a nice way for Durkin to ease into his new gig. Ideally, this will be the first of three non-conference wins to open the season for Maryland.
Toughest stretch: The first three games of November will go a long way in shaping the tale of this season. It begins with a game on Nov. 5 at Michigan and is followed by a visit from Ohio State and game at Nebraska. The Buckeyes are 2-0 all-time vs. Maryland, outscoring the Terps, 101-52, the last two seasons. This will be the Terrapins? first game ever vs. the Cornhuskers.
Best chance to be upset: vs. Rutgers, Nov. 26. Maryland may be beat up and demoralized by the time it plays its finale. The Terps will be coming off a tough three-game run of games at Michigan, vs. Ohio State and at Nebraska. Maryland and Rutgers have had two wild games as Big Ten members, with each rallying for winns on the other?s field. The Scarlet Knights won, 41-38, in 2014 in College Park; the Terps prevailed, 46-41, last year at RU.
Best chance to pull an upset: at Indiana, Oct. 29. Maryland should have a good shot to win at Indiana when it visits Bloomington on Oct. 29. The Terps won the last time they visited Indiana, taking a 37-15 decision in 2014. A big key will be how well the Maryland quick-pace offense is playing. It could be humming by late October.
Must win: vs. Purdue, Oct. 1. Maryland needs all the confidence it can get coming off a dreary 2015 that saw the Terps lose eight in a row at one point in a 3-9 season that included one Big Ten and saw Randy Edsall canned in October. That means winning the Big Ten opener vs. visiting Purdue on Oct. 1 is key. Maryland will be coming off a bye, giving it time to rest and prep for a Boilermaker program that is the worst in the Big Ten. A big, convincing win here would help the psyche of Maryland.
Bye week: It comes too early, as Maryland is off Sept. 24 following its three non-conference games.
|Sat.||10/8TBA||at Penn State||TBA|
|Sat.||10/227:30 PM ET||vs. 6 Michigan State||7:30 PM ET||BTN/BTN2|
|Sat.||11/5TBA||at 12 Michigan||TBA|
|Sat.||11/12TBA||vs. 4 Ohio State||TBA|
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