Big Ten rookies Maryland, Rutgers get breathers
MADISON, Wis. (AP) Maryland is moving on after a reprimand from the Big Ten following a statement win. Rutgers is getting a breather after a three-game gauntlet.
With both schools off this weekend, the Big Ten's two new Eastern linchpins will take advantage of time to recruit, regroup and prepare for the final month of their debut in the league.
Coaches for both teams said the transition to the Big Ten grind has gone pretty much as expected. However, Maryland is having more success.
The Terrapins (6-3, 3-2) can spend time relishing a 20-19 victory at Penn State, although the outcome was overshadowed after the league suspended receiver Stefon Diggs for one game for poor sportsmanship.
The Scarlet Knights (5-4, 1-4) could use a break after blowout losses to Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
''There (are) a lot of things that we've got to do with our program to get better,'' Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said Tuesday. ''That three-game stretch, looking back on it in the future, is going to be very valuable, gathering a lot of information as a program. We've got to make sure that we're applying it.''
The Terrapins just went through their own tough stretch with losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin sandwiched around a come-from-behind victory over Iowa on Oct. 18.
''It's exactly what we thought,'' Maryland coach Randy Edsall said about the Big Ten transition. ''Good coaches, good players, tough venues to play, and we knew that we were going to have to prepare very, very well in order to be able to go out and win games in this league.''
This season could already be deemed a success in College Park. Last week's victory at Penn State made the Terps bowl eligible in their first Big Ten season, giving them a win in what they hope becomes a budding regional rivalry.
However, Big Ten officials thought Maryland took things a little too far before the Penn State game.
On Monday, Diggs was suspended for a game for his part in a pregame scuffle. Diggs, who has a team-high 52 catches for 654 yards, made contact with a referee who was trying to separate players. He will miss Maryland's next game, Nov. 15 against Michigan State.
The Big Ten also determined that Edsall failed to control his team, and fined Maryland $10,000.
''In addition, the decision by Maryland team captains to not shake hands with Penn State team captains during the pregame coin toss ceremony was exceptionally regrettable,'' the league said Monday.
Edsall apologized after the game. He said in a statement after the penalties were announced Monday that he took ''full responsibility for our actions.''
Edsall added on Tuesday: ''The Big Ten has handled the situation. We've handled the situation, and our kids know that they made a mistake. ... They'll make a better decision in the future and now it's just time for us to move on.''
Besides Maryland and Rutgers, Illinois (4-5, 1-4) and No. 15 Nebraska (8-1, 4-1) also get the week off.
The showdown between No. 13 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan State - two 7-1 teams that are each 4-0 in the league play - is the highlight of Saturday's league schedule.
Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini is familiar with the transition process to the Big Ten after the school joined the league in 2011. Entering November that year with a 7-1 record, Nebraska finished 2-2.
''There is some degree of excitement for our kids for being able to go to some new places. But with that comes the added ... reality that you're trying to learn a lot about some new opponents,'' Pelini said. ''That takes some extra time and work and effort on everybody's part to become more familiar with whom you are playing each week.''
While the addition of Maryland and Rutgers has helped with the league's eastward recruiting, no school has bullied the newcomers of late more than No. 25 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1). The Badgers followed a 52-7 victory over the Terrapins a few weeks ago with its 37-0 rout of the Scarlet Knights.
The back-to-back blowouts helped propel Wisconsin into the Top 25 this week.
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP