BIG TEN Team Previews: Maryland
Maryland, along with Rutgers, officially joined the Big Ten on July 1. But it wasn’t until both teams joined the rest of the league in Chicago for the 2014 Big Ten media days in August that the move felt official.
There, inside the Chicago Hilton, Maryland head football coach Randy Edsall experienced firsthand what the conference was all about. He said he was thrilled and that he and his team were very impressed with how the Big Ten conducted itself.
“We know we have a tremendous challenge that’s ahead of us this year as we enter the Big Ten, but one that we’re really looking forward to,” Edsall said. “We have 10 new opponents that we have to prepare for. So the spring and the summer has been a whirlwind for us as coaches from the standpoint of getting to know the teams here in the Big Ten.”
The Terrapins, who left the ACC to join the Big Ten, will perhaps have the warmest welcoming to their new league. Edsall and Company are scheduled to play Indiana, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, and Rutgers this year.
For those keeping track, those teams went 67-37 last year, and all but Indiana and Penn State reached a postseason bowl game.
On paper, it seems almost unfair that Maryland was pitted against the conferene’s perennial contenders. But players have said they’re looking forward to the challenge of facing the Big Ten’s best.
“Obviously, this is a very physical conference. It’s always been that way,” said Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Johnson. “But I think that we are a physical team as well, and we’re looking forward to coming in and proving that.
“We understand that every game in this conference is a battle. There are no easy games on our schedule. And one by one, we have to handle them accordingly.”
Fortunately for the Terps, three teams — Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan State — will all travel to College Park and play in Byrd Stadium. Edsall said that’s certainly more favorable for them than having to journey the 843 miles it takes to get to Madison, Wis., the longest of the team’s road trips.
Regardless of where the team plays, it won’t be short on talent in some areas. Stefon Diggs, a junior wide receiver, is a name most Maryland supporters speak highly of when asked about their team.
Diggs was a huge contributor in 2013, accounting for 34 receptions, 587 yards, and 3 touchdowns before missing the final six games because of injury.
A native of Gaithersburg, Md., Diggs said he’s excited about the move to the conference, but that it won’t feel official to him until Maryland journeys to Bloomington to open its Big Ten schedule against the Hoosiers on Sept. 27.
“This is one of our first encounters with other schools,” Diggs said at the Big Ten media days. “It really won’t feel [official] until we get on the field and start playing against them.
“… We got a good schedule with big teams and big stages. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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