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Maryland Potluck #3: Hills to Climb in 2021

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A schedule that does them no favors could stunt any real progress the Terps hope to make in 2021.

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Zimbio

MORE MARYLAND POTLUCKING.

Yes, I’m behind. Yes, it’s Maryland Week, and yes, you probably haven’t bothered to care. But today’s the day we predict how the Maryland Terrapins will finish in 2021 and damnit, you know you want to turn up and say 2-10 (1-8).

But first, the foodstuffs.

Food: Head for the Hills?

Maryland apparently is more than crabcakes and The Wire. Honestly, who knew?

I can’t avoid some kind of clickbaity lead-in here, because (1) I don’t care enough to do anything different, and (2) anyone here worth a damn is already well aware of Western Maryland, the state’s panhandle that stretches into the Appalachians, with I-68 serving as a transit corridor west of Hancock.

You’ve got your scenic railroads, your “Did you know we have dairies?”, your moonshiners during Prohibition, of course, along with the mountainous parts of Maryland that get snow, have skiing, etc.

That’s what I have for you, writers.
(1) Western Maryland?

(2) Tell us about a similar place in your state that defies outsiders’ stereotypes of the region.

RU in VA: I bumped MNW down one since I just drove through Western MD YESTERDAY. On the way back from a wedding. I’ve also stayed at Deep Creek Lake for a long weekend.

Meh, it’s a bunch of hillbillies that got lost. Nothing out there, no natural resources, etc. etc.

As a proud South Jersey alumni - the Pine Barrens is a weird place. Bordered by water and where the Eagles and Flyers players live near Philly, there’s literally nothing there. It’s the hills have eyes in NJ. Luckily it’s only about a half hour drive through before you get where you’re going!

There’s a thing called the Cowtown Rodeo there. Weird.

MNW: I would definitely like to drive I-68 (or maybe something parallel like U.S. 40) across the panhandle, just to say I did. Drink some moonshine, do some of those lakes and mountains, just get lost for a few days while not really thinking too hard about the coal industry.

Minnesota has the Iron Range, very similar in that all the Metro liberals use it for their kayaking and canoeing and want to conserve it by slowing or shutting down mining altogether. It’s a lot of fun, and no one ever gets mad at anyone else and throws a hissy fit like leaving the DFL.

Ethnically and culturally it’s a different place more akin to the Upper Peninsula—lots of Eastern Europeans and Finns, delicious foods like porchetta and pasties, and rust-red lakes for swimming in. Great time.

Beez: I think the furthest west I’ve been in Maryland is Antietam. I’d imagine most of North Carolina defies outsiders’ stereotypes of the region, particularly the cities. Whatever you think of NC and the South, your ignorant, rec-wanting, lazy ass probably isn’t imagining Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Boone, or Winston-Salem. You’re probably thinking of Greenville or Beaufort or Burlington or something.

larry31: MD has a reputation for being a very blue state. (Side note: Interesting how the ultra liberal states like MD and MA often have really popular GOP governors like Mitt Romney and Larry Hogan.)

The I-95 corridor between DC and Baltimore (and including Baltimore) is where most of the state’s population is concentrated. It is urban/suburban, with only 50 miles separating the two cities, and trends toward democrat. Go east of the Chesapeake, solid Trump country. Go west of the I-95 corridor and its adjacent counties, and it gets a lot like WV. Politics aside, my second home is on Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, MD’s westermost state, located about 10 miles from the WV border. I love it here. I have been waterskiing, whitewater kayaking, skiing, barefoot waterskiing and hiking in this area since I was a teenager (35+ years).

  • You can rent a ridiculous million dollar home, or literally sleep in a tent at Deep Creek Lake State Park, or Herrington Manor State Park.
  • Swallow Falls State Park has waterfalls and rivers to wade in. Swallow Falls State Park is located in a forest containing 300 year-old hemlock trees. Hemlock trees make for really shitty timber for railroads or for building. It is a very soft wood. Once the folks figured out it was basically worthless for timber, they left it alone to just sit there for 300 years, undisturbed.
  • The Big Savage River has been an world-class kayaking destination for years, hosting the 1989 world championships.

Even better is not having to worry about droughts that affect water flow. Adjacent to Deep Creek Lake, they have built man-made rapids at the top of Wisp Ski Resort. It is one of only three artificial whitewater slalom courses built in North America. it is awesome! It hosted the 2014 canoe slalom world championships. It is open to the public for white water rafting and kayaking. It is 2000 feet long. It has 3 pumps which can allow the rapids to go from Class I to Class V depending on the water volume being pumped into the course. You finsh the course and then paddle to the conveyor belt that takes you back to the top, like a log flume ride, except way better.

WSR: Since MNW covered the range, let’s talk about SE Minnesota, specifically Lake Pepin through Winona. [MNW: Oh, HELL yeah.] It’s just beautiful. If you’re a local, take a weekend and go driving and hiking through the state parks like Frontenac and, if you want to venture south of Winona, Great River Bluffs. It’s just magnificent.

And if you’re feeling antagonistic, it’s always just a short drive to cross the river and piss on wisconsin.

But Western Maryland? This feels like a questionable life choice when I’m already in the Midwest.

HWAHSQB: Iowa is exactly like the stereotype. It’s corn, soybeans, and hog buildings.

Stew: Uh, excuse you. NE Iowa is part of the Driftless Area and is my favorite region. Rolling hillsides gorgeous views, winding rivers and streams, amazing breweries great hiking.

As for Western Maryland...sure, why not.

Football: Dear God, Maryland, Head for the Hills

This is pretty much the standard Big Ten East schedule for a non-OSU, -PSU, or -Michigan team—an FCS slaughter, MACtion, and one of those old-timey East Coast rivalries:

And, worse yet, this is a schedule that should do the Terps a favor in helping them start 3-1 or so, but...Illinois Fighting Illini can and probably should be friskier in 2021 under BERT, while Kent State is a program riding high. To wit:

  • In 2019 the Flashes won their first-ever bowl game, 51-41 over Utah State in the Tropical Smoothie Frisco Bowl, and Sean Lewis has kept the program momentum going
  • While mostly COVID-sidelined in 2020, Kent State managed a 27-23 squeaker against EMU, then beat Bowling Green 62-24 and Akron 69-35 before falling to Buffalo 70-41.
  • That offense that put up all those points returns mostly intact, with QB Dustin Crum leading a high-powered Flashes attack and five offensive linemen returning.

Is that all to set up the Terps going runner-runner losses into the meat of its Big Ten slate? ...no, but it’s not to say I feel optimistic about them, either.

Add to that few favors on the home/road splits—traveling to perhaps their four most winnable games in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Rutgers—and a handful of questions marks elsewhere, and this could get ugly quick.

So tell us, writers:
(1) How do you see Maryland finishing up in 2021? Show your work.

(2) Tell us the time when MACtion really came back to bite you in the ass because the MACrifice suddenly decided to get good.

(3) In honor of Maryland renewing its Panhandle Battle with the West Virginia Mountaineers and Ohio State grabbing Xavier in the 2021 Gavitt Games, credibly revive one dormant rivalry—any sport—for a Big Ten school. Extra points if it involves a real chance for Buffalo Bills-style tailgate violence.

larry31: MD has a solid history of coming out of the blocks strong. Hello, Texas. And Cuse. Let’s hope this trend isn’t limited to overhyped teams in orange uniforms. I’m going with the upset of WVU in week 1. Followed by wins over Howard and Kent St. at home and a win in week 3 over Illinois to start the season 4-0. Sounds about right for MD.

If MD goes 2-2 in the next 4 weeks—toothy birds at home, at O$U, at Boat Rowers, and hosting the spunky Hoosiers—that will be a victory. I think they eke out one win and go 1-3 in this stretch. (5-3) overall.

The next four games are probably a 2-2 stretch, finishing the season 7-5, and going to a lame bowl, which is better than going to no bowl.

Bad season is going 5-7. I’d be super happy getting a worse record (8-4) than what got Bo Pelini fired (9-3). Yes, I frequently think of Bo Pelini when MD folks want to get rid of Turge.

Beez: I see at least 6 wins on there. Losing to WVU, PSU, OSU, and UM are givens, in my mind. MSU is a toss up, but Iowa, Minnesota, Rutgers, Illinois, and the non-WVU noncon are wins.

I’d revive the long-dormant Wisconsin-Virginia Tech football rivalry. If memory serves, they agreed to that game in like 2012 and it’s still not happening anytime soon.

MNW: Yeah, I admire Larry’s optimism and beez’s disdain for Minnesota and Iowa. But seeing as how Maryland’s relying on Taulia to take a step forward (and stay upright!), a new DC to have an instant impact, and Mike Locksley to buck literally his entire track record as a coach, I’m not optimistic.

I can see 6-6 if everything goes right: Howard, Illinois, Kent State, Minnesota, Michigan State, Rutgers. But more likely at least two of those are losses. Because they are all on the road. Give me 4-8 (2-7).

I’ll look to Northwestern’s 2016 home loss to Western Michigan. Sure, the ‘Cats weren’t very good that year, but when they scheduled these games out in 2012, the Broncos were coached by Bill Cubit. PJ Fleck took over, did one good thing, and now has a Book and a Brand and a ring that claims he once won the Big Ten West. Northwestern also lost to Illinois State that season So, I mean...

WSR: Um...let’s go with 5-7 with a rather unpleasant Rutgersing. I don’t know why. It just feels right today. Start 4-0, beat Sparty, and have a whole lot of opportunities for introspection.

This here isn’t a MAC team suddenly getting good as much as it is Glen Mason being a fucking idiot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it until it happens: Minnesota has played Washington 17 times, none since 1977. One of the matchups was the 1961 Rose Bowl. Let’s get a home-and-home going already, goddamnit.

HWAHSQB: Maryland will go 5-7 with one puzzling loss and one where did that come from win. Hopefully, the puzzling loss will be to Brat Bielema and the Fighting Illini.

Illinois has pretty much been a mid-level MAC program for the last decade so MACtion losses aren’t really even a big deal.

The Illinois-Missouri football games in St. Louis were a lot of fun and do provide the potential for Natural Light fueled drunken white trash parking lot brawls. I wish they’d bring them back. A home and home would be okay, but the neutral site games with a 50/50 crowd are just a unique experience.

Stew: 4-8 (2-7). I didn’t show my work in grade school math, I’ll be damned if I do it here. I was right then, I’m right now.

Ok, fine. I see Maryland as a high variance team prone to epic mistakes that costs them winnable games. This makes any sort of specific prognosticating difficult. But pinned down, I’ll say wins against Buffalo, Kent State, Minnesota, and Michigan State.

Poll

In 2021, Maryland will finish...

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    2-10 or worse
    (6 votes)
  • 8%
    3-9
    (13 votes)
  • 22%
    4-8
    (33 votes)
  • 21%
    5-7
    (32 votes)
  • 25%
    6-6
    (38 votes)
  • 17%
    7-5 or better, I promise to show my work in the comments
    (26 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now

Poll

In the Big Ten in 2021, Maryland will go...

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0-9
    (2 votes)
  • 11%
    1-8
    (14 votes)
  • 20%
    2-7
    (26 votes)
  • 33%
    3-6
    (42 votes)
  • 25%
    4-5
    (32 votes)
  • 7%
    5-4
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    6-3 or better and I will absolutely show my work in the comments
    (1 vote)
126 votes total Vote Now