The Terrapins have had one whirlwind of a season.
After putting together their best start in over two decades, including a 2-0 record against Big Ten opponents, the team looked like it was ready to make the jump into contention for a conference championship.
But, a disastrous second half against the Buckeyes in their first true test of the season kicked off a skid that left the Terps winless in the month of October. At the bottom of the conference standings following four straight losses to Big Ten foes, Maryland was in panic mode.
Entering a must-win game with Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in front of 85,000 people, the Terps looked to change the narrative against the Cornhuskers after dropping the only two meetings in the series by a combined score of 82-14.
In typical Big Ten fashion, Maryland was able to sneak out a 13-10 win thanks to a 24-yard field goal from kicker Jack Howes as time expired. The kick gave the Terps their first win since September and clinched bowl eligibility for the third consecutive season.
“We’re very much in high spirits right now,” Howes said after the win. “We’re going bowling!”
It was a huge sigh of relief for Maryland as they now hope to ride this momentum into their biggest matchup of the season against No. 3 ranked Michigan. Though, the Wolverines will be without Jim Harbaugh, who is serving a three game suspension amid Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal.
Nonetheless, Mike Locksley and Taulia Tagovailoa will potentially get their last shot to defeat a ranked opponent in the Big Ten together. The two have made massive strides in College Park and have gotten the program moving in the right direction, but it is hard to pinpoint a statement win on their resumes.
“Obviously, this is a tremendous opportunity. A top-five team coming in here, reigning champion of the Big Ten,” said Locksley. “Extremely talented team. I have a lot of respect for them.”
Through all the ups and downs of this season, all of the chatter about what kind of team Maryland is, they have a chance to earn themselves a program-defining win and play spoiler to one of the nation’s best under the bright lights of Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff.
“I mean very few times in your career do you get to have what I call a breakthrough type of game,” said Locksley. “And you know, what a breakthrough this would be for our program, for us to put it all together this week — to show up Saturday and execute and play a damn near-perfect game.”