DJ Durkin has Terps on roll, tougher games are looming
It's not often Maryland can say it has something in common with Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska.
Like those standard bearers of college football, the Terrapins are still unbeaten this season. Since Maryland's 7-0 start in 2001, the Terrapins have taken a perfect record into their fifth game only in 2013 and this season.
No one is pulling harder for first-year coach DJ Durkin - at least until their teams meet Nov. 5 - than Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Durkin was a Harbaugh assistant for three years at Stanford and was his defensive coordinator with the Wolverines last season.
Harbaugh said Tuesday he's been following the Terps' progress and has watched three of their games. He said he's spoken with Durkin a couple times since the season started, usually on matters only coaches would find interesting.
''He's busy doing his duties and I'm busy doing mine,'' Harbaugh said, ''but we're watching with a lot of pride what he's doing and very proud of the job he's doing.''
Maryland, which puts its 4-0 record on the line this week at Penn State, already has one more win than it had all of last season. Two more wins will make the Terps bowl eligible. Their 173 points are a program record for four games, and their 50-7 win over Purdue last week was their most lopsided conference victory since 2010.
The biggest difference from 2015 to 2016?
The Terps have turned over the ball twice. Last year at this point they had 14 turnovers, including 12 interceptions.
Durkin said he addressed the turnover issue the first day he met with the team.
''It's just been a process of talking about it, teaching our players just how the game works and how a turnover can really kill you - how a punt is not a bad play,'' he said. ''Taking a sack or throwing it away isn't all bad if you go punt and play good defense. You may have been won yourself some field position.''
Maryland's schedule gets increasingly tougher, with November featuring road games against Michigan and Nebraska and a home game against Ohio State.
Other notes from the Big Ten coaches' teleconference:
Nebraska coach Mike Riley, whose team has a bye this week, said receiver Jordan Westerkamp (back) and tight end Cethan Carter (elbow) probably will miss the Oct. 15 game at Indiana.
Running back Devine Ozigbo probably won't practice this week as he recovers from an ankle sprain. Riley said he's hopeful offensive lineman Tanner Farmer and receiver Alonzo Moore will be back from injuries that kept them out of the Illinois game.
BARRETT'S FAST ASCENT
With four touchdown passes against Rutgers, Ohio State's J.T. Barrett became the school's all-time leader with 59. Barrett also has 84 TDs responsible for and needs five more passing or rushing touchdowns to break Braxton Miller's record of 88.
Barrett, a junior, has played in 27 games and started 21.
''This is only his second year, maybe 2 + years, of full-time starting,'' Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. ''He would be the first to tell you he's been very fortunate to be around very good players and a very offensive line that protects him and guys that make plays. When you think of the history of this great university, and he could be No. 1, that's incredible.''
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson was heartened by quarterback Richard Lagow's bounce-back from his five-interception game against Wake Forest. The Big Ten's passing yardage leader was picked off once against Michigan State but led touchdown drives on the Hoosiers' last three series in regulation in a 24-21 overtime victory.
''He lost his composure in the fourth quarter (against Wake Forest), and that hurt us with his body language. You can't be a leader if you can't lead yourself,'' Wilson said. ''He got into a competitive game and got in a similar situation and got it corrected against a very challenging team in Michigan State. What I saw last week was a guy who got into position where he could have lost his composure and he kept it.''
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