Did Maryland have a good season in 2021?
No, I’m asking - did they?
What Happened In 2021?
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but September Maryland looked like a high-flying conference-contending dark horse. Beating a decent West Virginia team, notching a conference win over Illinois on the road, and dispatching weaker opponents in Howard and Kent State brought Mike Locksley’s third team in College Park to its best start yet heading into October.
Then, September ended, and contrary to Green Day’s anthemic urging, Maryland did not in fact wake up. Rather, in its last eight games, the Terps went 2-6, with those wins being over wounded Indiana and Rutgers in the last possible chance to secure a bowl bid.
Were they close to breaking through at any other point? No. Their margins of defeat in those losses were 37 (Iowa), 49 (Ohio State), 18 (Minnesota), 17 (Penn State), 19 (Michigan State), and 41 (Michigan). After the calendar turned to October, they held exactly one opponent under 30 points (Rutgers).
But! But. Maryland did get to its first bowl game since 2016, and even won that bowl, breaking a postseason losing streak dating back to 2010, by bludgeoning Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl. Now...even that win requires some context, as VaTech had fired Justin Fuente and by the time of this game, their starting and backup QBs had both left the program.
So...Trending Up, Trending Down, Or What?
I still don’t know, man. As you may have noticed, it’s not a Maryland fan writing this piece, and I have no earthly idea how they feel about this program’s position and direction. 2021 was one of the program’s better seasons since the heights of the Friedgen era, but that really just throws how miserable the 2010s were in College Park into sharp relief.
It’s the first bowl win in over a decade; it’s also a team that was competitive in exactly three conference games, and did not stay within two scores of anyone else in the league.
They found a very good, generally underrated quarterback in Taulia Tagovailoa, but he also played them out of the Iowa game immediately.
They bring back a very experienced defense between their returners and a few transfers, but it’s a unit that got absolutely shredded more often than it played decently last year.
Locksley has kicked their recruiting into a gear they haven’t experienced before, but they’ve also lost steam on that front and critical pieces of those stellar classes aren’t sticking around.
So College Park is a land of contrasts as we sit here today; fair enough. What should we expect for this fall?
September 3rd: vs Buffalo
September 10th: @ Charlotte
September 17th: vs SMU
September 24th: @ Michigan
October 1st: vs MSU
October 8th: vs Purdue
October 15th: @ Indiana
October 22nd: vs Northwestern
October 29th: BYE
November 5th: @ Wisconsin
November 12th: @ Penn State
November 19th: vs Ohio State
November 26th: vs Rutgers
It really feels as though, to have any shot at a bowl game whatsoever, Maryland needs a 2-2 month of October. Because after that Northwestern game, there doesn’t appear to be a realistic W on the slate until Senior Day, against a Rutgers team that ought to be trying to secure a bowl bid itself that day. The Vegas odds I’m looking at set the O/U at 5.5, which feels about right.
Maryland will finish 2022 with:
This poll is closed
4 wins or fewer