Bye bye, ACC.
Welcome to the B1G Leagues, Terps.
The Maryland Terrapins had their inaugural Big Ten Schedule for the 2014 season announced Thursday at noon, and it is a stark contrast from the past, 50+ years of college football in the ACC.
At Indiana, vs Ohio State, vs Iowa, at Wisconsin, at Penn State, vs Michigan State, at Michigan, vs Rutgers. That’s the hand we’ve been dealt, and I’ll be the first to say that I love it. I mean our first home game at Byrd is going to be Ohio State and Urban Meyer.
My first thought was that, no matter what, I’m willing to wager the Terps sell out nearly every home Big Ten game in 2014 just based on the fact that everything is so new. Ohio State and Rutgers, they’re guaranteed sellouts. Michigan State, count on it. Iowa is the only team I’d have doubts about at this point, but because it’s the first time we’re playing them it’ll be a packed house. The home slate alone is enough to get excited about, especially playing Rutgers, given how many Jersey people are on campus at any given point in time.
Talk about an upgrade from the 2013 schedule, too. Virginia, Clemson, Syracuse, and Boston College weren’t bringing in squat for fans on a consistent basis. The ACC tends to give Maryland roundhouse kicks to the groin, so this year’s schedule was a bummer. Sure, Iowa is a bit of a downer, but so is having to play our suggested rival Virginia, and a Boston College team that routinely sucks to watch. Add in Cuse, and we might as well have been playing a Big East home slate.
Another thing that stands out? Six of the eight games were against teams that were bowl eligible based on total wins (even if Penn State and Ohio State were banned.) Things could be tough going early on for the Terrapins in the Big Ten, that’s for sure. Ohio State is probably going to beat the pants off Maryland in the first year, same goes for Michigan. Not to mention playing Wisconsin, a team that dropped 70 points on the #12 team in the nation (Nebraska) in the Rose Bowl…and they didn’t even rightfully win their division since Penn State and Ohio State weren’t bowl eligible. Things aren’t going to be easy, no matter how you want to paint it.
But I’m looking forward to forming some new rivalries. There’s no question that Rutgers and Maryland will be intrinsically tied to one another based on being the new guys and geographical location. But let’s not forget that Danny O’Brien’s quitting connects us to Wisconsin, and recruiting to Penn State, and a national championship game to Indiana. The possibilities make you salivate, and give Terps fans something they haven’t had in awhile: hope.
There will be some ups and downs going to the Big Ten, but it’s the Big Ten. The ACC has this tendency to make good football teams mediocre by association. Look what happened to Florida State and Miami. Playing sub-par competition week-after-week tends to wear on you, and lets you rest on your laurels a bit too much. In the Big Ten? If Maryland takes any games off, they’re going to get completely obliterated by any one of these teams. The Terps are playing in one of the best conferences in the nation now, and they are either going to put up or shut up.
Terps fans are the rare breed that looks forward to being the underdog, so I for one look forward to this schedule. We’re probably not favorites in any game on the 2014 schedule save for maybe Indiana. Fine by me, because Maryland is going to rebound. People have short memories, but I recall just a few short years ago the Terps were 9-4. They’re not some pushover, although they have been the past few years. So let the Big Ten, and everyone else sleep on Maryland. In a couple more years, people will once again Fear the Turtle.