Coming into the season there were high hopes for fifth-year Head Coach Mike Locksley and the Terrapins. After recording consecutive bowl wins for the first time since 2002-03 with standout Taulia Tagovailoa back under center for one more season, it felt like the Terps were about to take off.
Five weeks in, Locksley had his team off to an undefeated start, Tagovailoa was playing like the best quarterback in the Big Ten, and all was well, but that wasn’t the end goal.
Maryland has always done a good job of beating the teams that they should beat, and they’ve managed to keep themselves afloat within the middle of the pack since joining the conference in 2014.
In other words: average.
The goal was to continue to succeed against teams at the bottom of the conference, and to finally take down one of the perennial powerhouses (Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State) along the way.
Fast forward a month from that 5-0 start, and the Terps are unraveling.
Along with the now-yearly domination from Ohio State and Penn State, Maryland has lost two games to inferior opponents in Illinois and Northwestern to round out the four-game skid.
“Right now, we’re in the gutter,” linebacker Donnell Brown said after last week’s loss.
Maryland has yet to beat a ranked Big Ten opponent since joining the conference, but Locksley still has faith in his group.
“I don’t think they’re 51-15 better than us,” he said after the loss to Penn State. “I don’t think we played to our potential.”
The Terps are now on the brink of missing bowl eligibility which seemed unfathomable just four weeks ago, and they could be running out of time.
With three games left on the schedule – at Nebraska, vs. Michigan, at Rutgers – Maryland needs to win one to clinch a bowl game for the third straight season.
“We’re playing spurts of good football,” Locksley said. “We’re not as far away as maybe some people think.”