Rutgers, Maryland face off with bowl aspirations on line

National Sports

Both Rutgers and Maryland are one win shy of bowl eligibility entering their regular-season finale Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.

The equation is simple: The winning team reaches 6-6 and plays again later this winter. The losing side’s season expires at the final whistle.

The Scarlet Knights and Terrapins joined the Big Ten together in 2014 and have struggled in the heavyweight East division. Maryland (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) has earned two bowl bids as a Big Ten program, but none since 2016. Rutgers (5-6, 2-6) hasn’t qualified for a bowl since that first season in the league, 2014.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said his players aren’t looking any farther than the task at hand.

“They know what the ramifications are in the result of this game, but if that’s your focus you’re probably not gonna get your desired result,” Schiano said. “I think the focus has to be on our preparation for Maryland, as it is every week for the 11 previous games, and really lock in.”

During Schiano’s first stint coaching the Scarlet Knights, he guided them to six bowl games, including five wins, over his final seven seasons on the job.

Rutgers is coming off a 28-0 defeat to Penn State in which it gained just 160 yards of offense — a disappointing outing one week after it blew out the Hoosiers 38-3 at Indiana.

Rutgers hasn’t won a Big Ten game at home since beating Maryland in November 2017.

A lot changed inside the Terrapins’ program in the following years. Coach D.J. Durkin was fired after the death of former player Jordan McNair and an investigation that uncovered a toxic culture based on fear and intimidation.

Now, toward the end of Maryland’s third season under coach Mike Locksley, fans want to see results. The Terrapins opened the season 4-0 but then lost six of the next seven, including a 59-18 beatdown against No. 6 Michigan last week.

“We’re still chasing that sixth victory, and we’re out of time,” Locksley said. “It’s kind of like I told our team, it’s like being in the wild-card playoff game; it’s win or go home. For us, as we talked about taking the next step as a program, obviously one of the first next steps is becoming a bowl-eligible team, where that becomes our standard.”

–Field Level Media

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