We’re going to start this week’s potluck with (in the humble opinion of DJ Carver) the best beers in Maryland: anything from Flying Dog brewery!
Why are we starting with beer? Well, quite simply, if you’re a Maryland Terrapins fan, you have a world of hurt ahead of you. Sure, it feels like things are getting better and the recruiting has been positive, but this is hardly a year where you can sleepwalk to a bowl. I mean, take a look at that. The Terps have a ridiculous schedule:
Maryland Football 2017
|Sat, Sep 02||@Texas|
|Sat, Sep 09||Towson|
|Sat, Sep 23||UCF|
|Sat, Sep 30||@Minnesota|
|Sat, Oct 07||@Ohio State|
|Sat, Oct 14||Northwestern|
|Sat, Oct 21||@Wisconsin|
|Sat, Oct 28||Indiana|
|Sat, Nov 04||@Rutgers (Yankee Stadium)|
|Sat, Nov 11||Michigan|
|Sat, Nov 18||@Michigan State|
|Sat, Nov 25||Penn State|
The Texas Longhorns are no pushover at home, The UCF Knights went bowling last year, and your crossovers include at Minnesota under a new regime, at Wisconsin, and Northwestern — a not easy team to beat. In a perfect world, what’s a reasonable thing to expect from the Terps this year? Can they go bowling? If you’re scoring at home, what’s the best and worst case scenario here?
LPW: In a world of pain. Four wins. This schedule is brutal.
DJ Carver: A resounding success if they somehow make a bowl, most likely 5-7. Maryland has a preseason top five strength of schedule.
Candystripes: Well, assuming past trends hold, the worst case scenario is probably in the two-wins range, assuming that you can handle Towson and grab at least one win in B1G play. Best case? Six wins if you beat literally everyone you won’t enter as a touchdown underdog to. For those scoring at home, that’s Towson, UCF, Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana, and Rutgers. Could the Terps grab all of those games? Maybe. Will they? I don’t think so, and I’m with LPW here: Take your 4-8 season and move on.
Zuzu: IDK, probably not
MNW: Truly awe-inspiring take.
Maryland is a Big Ten team in the Big Ten East, and often that means you'll need to schedule a wiscon — I mean, Iowa-esque non-conference and get your wins there. I love the ambition, but eventually it will fall to "get better" or "get used to Ro*tel."
Having NU at home is helpful, assuming Terp fans learn from their mistakes and don't boo JLD again (assholes), and I will agree that at Minnesota is pretty objectively not a daunting road crossover. (Feel free to @ me, Fans of Brewster v.2.0).
But what this says more broadly is that Maryland fans inclined to look down the road may need to consider what they are willing to accept/tolerate as the program's ceiling-ish. Is it 8-4/9-3 when they get good crossovers? Is it Indiana? They're clearly not rutger at this point, but what I think this conversation boils down to is "What should Maryland's non-con be?"
Now that totally discounts Durkin's ability to build a big winner, UA money flooding into the program and making it the Oregon of the 'Peake, etc etc etc. But for the rest of us still hanging out in reality, I think Maryland would want to generally follow the Northwestern model of "like-minded ACC school that's not that great" (for us Notre Dame or Duke, which would be a great football matchup for MD and put asses in seats, right?), "regional G5 school" (Buffalo, UConn, etc), cupcake. That appears to generally be what they're doing, including matchups with Bowling Green, Syracuse, and Temple, but I still think the Texas (and then West Virginia!) series are a little ambitious for the Turtles. The problem is, can Maryland wait that long for more manageable (and well-chosen) scheduled matchups with NIU and UVA in the next decade? Can Durkin survive it?
Stew: First glance, looks like 6-6 is the best case, 2-10 worst case. I just don’t see how they win at Texas to begin the season. Pair that with being in the B1G East, and there’s no room for error to get bowl eligible. Now, they don’t have a brutal cross-over with the West, getting jNW at home, and getting MN early in their B1G opener. Watch out for UCF, though, could be a tricky game.
JWS: It’s not just the names on the schedule, it’s how they fall. Texas has a new coach, and opens their season with Maryland. Minnesota has a new coach and opens their Big Ten schedule with Maryland. The Terrapins will struggle to have three or four wins early, then finish the season with Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. I think they could be a good football team that is sitting at 5-7 when the dust settles. If they are not a good team, ouch.
BRT: Wow (at first I typed "woe" and considered leaving it, as that seems fitting as well) that's a fun schedule. Disaster case, is 2-10, but I think it more likely the Terps end up around 4-8: three probable wins, and then grabbing a surprise somewhere. This evaluation relies on MSU being less terrible than last year, but that may be expecting a lot from them, and that could help Maryland. Also, Maryland? If you feel like making your surprise win at Texas, please do so, because that would be hilarious. xoxo, Husker Fans
Oh, I didn't answer the bowling part. No. They will not be bowling, unless it's a team morale-building outing involving black lights, nachoes, ugly shoes, and "The Dude" references.
WSR: Thank God for Rutgers? Yeah, I think basement is 1-11, because you’re not losing to Towson. But counting the wins after that is like counting the number of B1G fans that care about lacrosse: few, far between, and not many outside of the east coast. At least basketball season is right around the corner, right?
Aaron Yorke: I see six wins as the ceiling for this Maryland team with possible Big Ten wins at Minnesota and home against Northwestern. However, the Terps will certainly be underdogs against the Gophers and probably against the Cats as well. And even if D.J. Durkin’s team wins both of those games, there’s always the chance of tripping up against Indiana, Rutgers, or Central Florida to spoil a bowl bid. That’s why it’s called a best-case scenario, though. I’ll put the floor at three wins with Maryland going 2-1 in the non-conference and then splitting the IU and RU games.