Indiana, Maryland seek 1st Big Ten win of season
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) One of the highlights of Maryland's 2014 season was its first-ever Big Ten victory, a 37-17 romp over Indiana.
In the rematch Saturday, the Terrapins will seek their long-awaited first conference win of the year.
Maryland (2-8, 0-6) hasn't celebrated a victory since Sept. 19, against South Florida. Since that time, coach Randy Edsall was fired and interim coach Mike Locksley has watched from the sideline while the Terrapins absorbed four successive Big Ten defeats.
The team hopes to end the skid at Senior Day, when the fans at Byrd Stadium bid farewell to upperclassmen who have endured a roller-coaster ride that's included the move from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten, two bowl games and this horrid season.
''Coach Locksley has really been pushing trying to get the seniors a win for their last home game. It's important to them,'' defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said. ''You always remember your last home game. We're trying to get our guys a win, especially our seniors. They've been through a lot.''
This season hasn't been a picnic for Indiana, either. The Hoosiers (4-6, 0-6) won their first four games before dropping six in a row, all within the Big Ten and many of them in the closing minutes.
''We don't think it's bad luck or karma,'' Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson said. ''We've got to get playing and get better because it's not what we want.''
One team is going to celebrate its first conference win Saturday. The other is going to have to wait at least another week - or perhaps until next year - to break the skid.
''I'm expecting our guys to give their best for the seniors,'' Locksley said, ''to send the guys off with a victorious game for their last one in Byrd.''
Some other things to know about the Hoosiers and Terrapins:
FINALLY, A BREAK: Maryland has played the toughest schedule in the country thus far, facing teams with a combined record of 60-17 (78 percent). Five of the Terrapins' last six opponents are currently ranked in the Associated Press poll, with three of the last five currently in the Top 10. ''When we joined the Big Ten, we knew there weren't many easy games on our schedule,'' Locksley said. Indiana is no pushover, but it's no Iowa or Ohio State or Michigan State.
BOWLING FOR BIDS: The Hoosiers' schedule hasn't been easy, either. During their slide they've lost four games to Top 15 teams. Still, with wins over Maryland and Purdue, Indiana will become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. Yes, there's an outside shot of getting in at 5-7 if there aren't enough bowl qualifiers, but the Hoosiers would rather take care of things themselves.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT: Indiana ranks last in the Big Ten in pass defense, allowing 328 yards per game. That might suggest the Terrapins should throw the ball, except they're second-to-last in the conference with 149 yards passing per game. Not only that, but Maryland quarterbacks have thrown 16 interceptions in six league games and been picked off an astounding 28 times overall.
HOWARD'S RUN: Hoosiers RB Jordan Howard has been magnificent when healthy, topping 140 yards in each of the first four games. He wasn't the same after getting hurt in the Big Ten opener against then No. 1 Ohio State. Since returning from a bye week, Howard has gashed two of the nation's best run defenses for 412 yards and four TD runs, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He could have another big day Saturday against a team that's allowing 132.7 yards rushing per game in the conference.
THE FINISH: If Indiana is going to end its losing streak, it must find a stronger knockout punch. The Hoosiers couldn't beat Ohio State on the final play, couldn't protect a 25-point lead against Rutgers, couldn't get the stop they needed against Iowa and couldn't put away Michigan in the final minutes last week.
AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indiana contributed to this story.