Wolverines can wrap up bowl eligibility vs Terps
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan's football program has always had high standards, which is why a bowl appearance may not be enough to save coach Brady Hoke's job.
That being said, the Wolverines can find some joy in the fact that they're playing for a postseason berth this weekend, considering how poorly the season started.
''One thing about this team, they have been unified. They have stayed together,'' Hoke said. ''They have probably listened to the stuff out there, and at the same time they've done a great job of shutting it off.''
Michigan will play its final home game of the season Saturday against Maryland. The Wolverines lost four of their first six games in 2014, but they've won three of four since then to put themselves in position to become bowl eligible.
If Michigan (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) loses this weekend, the Wolverines would need to win at Ohio State in the final game of the regular season to reach the six-win threshold for postseason eligibility. Michigan has had little margin for error since its 2-4 start. The Wolverines figured to be underdogs against Michigan State - whom they ended up losing to in late October - and Ohio State. So Michigan really needed to take advantage of the more winnable games on the schedule.
The Wolverines have done that, beating Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern. It hasn't always been pretty, but now Michigan is favored against Maryland (6-4, 3-3) in the home finale.
The Terrapins are already bowl eligible in their first season in the Big Ten. They lost to some of the top teams in the conference - Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State - and won their other games against league opponents.
Maryland is 4-1 on the road this season, and coach Randy Edsall isn't certain how to explain that.
''Maybe there's less distractions on the road, and guys rally around each other a little bit more,'' he said. ''I don't know. Our preparation is really the same.''
Here are a few things to watch in Maryland's final road game - and Michigan's final home game - of the regular season:
ATTENDANCE: Michigan boasts one of the nation's most impressive attendance streaks - 257 consecutive crowds of at least 100,000 at the Big House. The Wolverines have cut it close this season at times, but they're now a game away from preserving that streak during a trying season.
Saturday will be a test. The weather in Ann Arbor this week has been cold and snowy, and Maryland isn't a traditional rival. But it is the final home game, and that may be enough to keep attendance up.
INJURY: Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been ruled out of the Terrapins' final two regular-season games. He is expected back for the team's bowl.
Diggs lacerated his kidney against Penn State on Nov. 1 and has not played since. He has 52 receptions for 654 yards and five touchdowns in nine games this season.
OFF-FIELD PROBLEM: Michigan defensive end Frank Clark was dismissed from the team Monday, the same day he pleaded not guilty to assault and domestic violence charges for allegedly beating up a woman at an Ohio hotel during the weekend. Hoke said the alleged behavior ''is unacceptable and not what we want here associated with our program.''
BEEN A WHILE: Maryland hasn't played Michigan since 1990. The only three meetings between the teams came between 1985 and 1990, with the Wolverines winning all three in Ann Arbor.
DUAL THREAT: Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown has accounted for 53 touchdowns in his career - 31 passing and 22 rushing. That ties him with Scott Milanovich for the school record.