Maryland football huddles during its win over West Virginia (via Maryland Athletics)

For Maryland football fans, bowl eligibility is program’s first big step toward consistency

By Josh Caplan

When Taulia Tagovailoa took one last knee in Piscataway, New Jersey on November 27, he finished a task that Maryland football hadn’t been able to complete since 2016: bowl eligibility.

The Terps finished with a record of 6-6, despite starting the season 4-0. Head coach Mike Locksley’s squad is a part of the Big Ten East, one of the most difficult football divisions in the country, which in turn meant they played five teams ranked in the top ten at the time of their games against Maryland.

Not all undergraduates at Maryland were students when Maryland last made a bowl game. In turn, most of the students, like junior Nick Serluco, thought this season proved successful. 

“I think overall the season went well,” Serluco said. “There were some disappointments, but I think that it was definitely an improvement from last year and the year before.”

Serluco added that home losses to Iowa and Penn State were among his biggest disappointments with the season, wishing that the games were a little bit closer than they were. The Hawkeyes beat the Terps 51-14 on October 1, and the Nittany Lions got revenge on last season’s defeat by coming into College Park on November 6 and winning, 31-14.

Locksley is in his third season at the helm for the Terps. After working at Alabama with Nick Saban and being named assistant coach of the year in 2018, Locksley took over a program in turmoil and turned it into a bowl contender in three years.

While Locksley perhaps has not gotten national recognition for his role in the turnaround, students are taking notice. AJ Lamar has enjoyed what he has seen thus far from Locksley.

“I think [Locksley] does have something going,” Lamar said, “and he does need some time to really build a program which I think he is doing.”

One of the points that Locksley has tried to preach while building the program back up is the phrase ‘The Standard’, an idea that Maryland football has a level that they must maintain, no matter the opponent.

However, some students have taken that idea of ‘The Standard’ and added to it. Although Maryland is considered primarily a basketball school by most, Connor Metz wants to see bowl games become the standard for Maryland football.

“Going .500 is nothing to be proud of,” Metz said. “It just seems good compared to how the program has done in the past. The team needs to win the bowl game in order for it to be a success.”

The Terps will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 29 at Yankee Stadium. If they win, the Terps will have their first winning season since 2014.

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