By Max Marcilla
The game will not be played at Yankee Stadium — a combination of what happens when the New York Yankees make a postseason run and Rutgers has an opportunity to get $750,000 refunded. Still, the Maryland football team has an opportunity to become bowl eligible with a victory on Saturday against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
A win wouldn’t guarantee the Terps make a bowl game for the second straight season, and it would have a different feel than last year’s regular season finale, which gave Maryland its sixth win. Even if the Terps lose their three games after Rutgers (vs. Michigan, at Michigan State, vs. Penn State), five wins may be enough to clinch a bowl game.
How? Something called Academic Progress Rate (APR). The metric, which measures the academic success of a school’s student-athletes that receive scholarships, is how the NCAA decides which five-win teams make a bowl game if additional spots are needed.
Spoiler alert: they almost always are. That’s why the NCAA sponsors bowl games real names such as the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (this could be one for which the Terps qualify).
Anyway, the NCAA’s list of APR ahead of the 2017 college football season had Maryland tied for 11th with a score of 984. It is tied for fifth in the Big Ten with Illinois, only trailing Northwestern, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
More importantly than that, of the 10 teams with a better APR than the Terps, three have already clinched a bowl game and another three already have five wins.
With all that said, what does that mean for Maryland? Simply put, a victory against Rutgers on Saturday could put the Terps in a position to compete with a few other teams with a solid APR score for a bowl game spot.
It would be a big deal, although it may not seem like it in the short-term. If Maryland makes a bowl game, it would be just the second time in program history that a head coach makes a bowl game in both of his first two seasons.