Maryland's last chance for bowl bid lies in beating Rutgers
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Five weeks ago, Maryland defeated Michigan State to move within a victory of becoming bowl eligible.
The situation remains unchanged.
Maryland still needs one win to earn a bowl bid under first-year coach DJ Durkin. Following an ugly four-game losing streak in which they were outscored 191-49, the Terrapins are left with one final opportunity to snag their elusive sixth victory of the season.
The only encouraging aspect of this mess for Maryland is that Rutgers is coming to town Saturday.
As badly as the Terps (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) have been playing lately, the Scarlet Knights (2-9, 0-8) have been even worse.
Rutgers is coming off a 39-0 loss to Penn State, which followed a 49-0 defeat at Michigan State. Earlier, there was a 58-0 spanking by Ohio State and a 78-0 embarrassment at home against Michigan State.
The Scarlet Knights haven't won since beating New Mexico on Sept. 17.
There is no bowl bid at stake for Rutgers. The goal is to put a positive finish on a season that went awry before the calendar flipped to October.
''This game is the last game for this group of individuals to be together, and we're going to cherish every day and every moment we get to go out and prepare,'' first-year coach Chris Ash said.
The Terrapins hope to have one game left after this one.
''One of the great perks of college football is you get that opportunity to take your team to a bowl game and treat them right and reward them for all the work they put in,'' Durkin said. ''It's always something you have to earn, you have to go do it, and we have to opportunity to do it this weekend.''
Some things to know about the Rutgers-Maryland matchup:
TO THE HILLS: The status of Maryland quarterback Perry Hills is expected to be a game-time decision. Hills hurt his left shoulder two weeks ago against Ohio State and did not play last Saturday in a 28-7 loss at Nebraska. A fifth-year senior, Hills has started in every one of Maryland's wins this season. Playing in his final home game is high atop his wish list. ''It really does mean a lot to the whole team, especially the seniors,'' he said. ''You get another chance to go out there and play with each other. We want to do it for each other.''
RIVALRY GAME: This marks the third straight year in which Rutgers and Maryland have closed the season. It's never going to be Ohio State-Michigan, but who's to say these East Coast teams can't become Big Ten rivals. ''It makes sense,'' Ash said. ''There's a lot of rivalry games that the Big Ten has tried to create here in the last week of the season, and this would be a natural one. We'd love to make that happen.'' Durkin wasn't as enthusiastic. ''We can stamp anything and say, `Lets make this a rivalry,' but it's not that until all the fans, the universities, the communities and everyone has a feeling of animosity between the two teams,'' he said.
DON'T GET A LEAD: The common thread in the past two meetings between these teams is that no advantage is big enough. Two years ago, Rutgers rallied from a 25-point deficit to beat Maryland 41-38. It was the biggest comeback in school history. Last season, the Terrapins climbed from a 21-point hole to pull out a 46-41 victory.
GROWING PAINS: Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno has struggled recently, in part because of hamstring and knee injuries. Also a factor: The sophomore didn't get his first college start until four weeks ago. ''He just hasn't been at full speed,'' Ash said. ''Gio is just a work in progress.''
KID STUFF: Maryland has started seven true freshmen this season, tied for most in the Football Bowl Subdivision with South Carolina. The Terps have also had 20 players make their first career start, tied for 11th-most in the FBS.
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