COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland’s hopes of earning a bowl bid from a tumultuous season dissipated with Saturday’s 31-24 loss to Wisconsin.
That doesn’t mean the Terrapins (2-7, 0-5 Big Ten) believe there is nothing left to salvage from the next three weeks.
”Obviously your goal is to prolong your season,” interim coach Mike Locksley said Tuesday. ”We won’t be able to extend our season with a bowl opportunity, but as I told the guys, this is the start for young players. I feel this is the nucleus or could be the nucleus for a team that would contend for a Big Ten championship and that they need to continue to prepare (and) give the effort of that type of team.”
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It’s been a rocky autumn for Maryland, which is mired in a six-game losing streak. Coach Randy Edsall was fired Oct. 11, with Locksley taking over for the second half of the season. The Terps have lost all three games since, but two by a single possession.
They’ll look to snap that skid when they visit No. 14 Michigan State (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday. It also provides the Terps a chance to end a 12-game slide against ranked opponents. Maryland last defeated a ranked foe Nov. 27, 2010, when it knocked off then-No. 21 N.C. State.
”We have a great challenge ahead of us with Michigan State, and that’s a team that’s only been beaten once,” wide receiver Levern Jacobs said. ”They’re kind of wounded coming off the loss from last week. I just think we have a great opportunity to go in there and upset that team this weekend and build on what we can do next year.”
This is the first time in three years that Maryland won’t be going to a bowl. On the other hand, the Terrapins lost at least six in a row to close out the 2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons, and they haven’t won a game after clinching a losing record since a 13-7 defeat of Wake Forest to close out 2004 with a 5-6 mark.
This team, though, is determined to make something of its final three contests, which also include a visit from Indiana and a trip to Rutgers.
”You just keep fighting,” junior cornerback Will Likely said. ”It’s not a team that’s going to give up. No matter the record or the score, you still have to go out and play. We have pride about ourselves and we’re just going to keep fighting.”
This week, that means finding a way to test a Michigan State team coming off a 39-38 loss at Nebraska. The Spartans beat the Terps 37-15 last year in the schools’ first meeting since 1950.
”For the seniors, this is their legacy,” Locksley said. ”We still have an opportunity to make the best out of the situation. We’re not going to do too much forecasting. We want to focus on the task at hand, which is Michigan State. I think our guys have really bought into sticking to that thought process and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”