Maryland didn’t spend much time going over the tape of last Saturday’s 52-7 loss to Wisconsin.
“When things like that happen,” coach Randy Edsall said, “it’s always better to put it behind you and move forward.”
By the end of the weekend, the Terrapins were already looking ahead to their next game. Unfortunately, that matchup is this Saturday at Penn State.
There’s some history there, none of it good for Maryland. The teams haven’t met since 1993, before most of the current players on the Terrapins’ roster were born. But they all seem to know that before this so-called rivalry ended, Maryland was 1-35-1 against Penn State.
“It would mean a lot to get that second win against them,” running back Brandon Ross said Tuesday.
Now that the Terrapins are in the Big Ten, they will face Penn State on a regular basis. For this to become a rivalry, however, Maryland (5-3, 2-2) must prove it can compete with the Nittany Lions (4-3, 1-3).
“To have any kind of rivalry, you’ve got to win games,” Edsall said. “That’s one thing we haven’t done here at the University of Maryland. If you’re going to make any kind of series a rivalry, there’s got to be wins on our side.”
Before the home-and-home series mercifully concluded, Penn State was dominant. Maryland’s lone victory came in 1961, and the only other time in 37 games that the Nittany Lions failed to walk away a winner was in 1989, when the Terrapins used a late field goal to earn a 13-13 tie in Baltimore.
“You hate to tie a team like Maryland,” Penn State linebacker Andre Collins said after the game.
It wouldn’t happen again. Penn State won the next four games by a collective 190-37 score, culminated by a 70-7 blowout in 1993.
And now, a new era of Maryland players have a chance to turn things around, for the sake of all the grads who never experienced the sensation of beating Penn State.
“It’s definitely special. A lot of alumni are looking at this; it has a lot more meaning for them,” Terps quarterback C.J. Brown said. “For us, we haven’t played them in forever. It’s another game, obviously heightened because of who the head coach is.”
Former Maryland assistant James Franklin is now head coach at Penn State. Franklin was in line to take over for Ralph Friedgen but left for Vanderbilt in December 2010, shortly before Friedgen was ousted and replaced by Edsall. Franklin experienced tremendous success before taking the job at Penn State last January.
The Nittany Lions won four straight to open the Franklin era, but have since lost three in a row, including 31-24 in double-overtime to Ohio State last weekend.
Maryland’s weekend, of course, was even worse. Wisconsin led 24-0 at halftime, finished with 311 yards rushing and limited the Terrapins to 10 first downs overall.
Despite the loss, Maryland still needs only one win to become bowl eligible, and that will be their main incentive Saturday.
“To be 3-2 in the conference and get that sixth win, that’s really what we’re focused on now,” Ross said. “That’s what makes this game so big.”
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