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The Maryland Terrapins 2018 football preview

The Maryland Terrapins 2018 football preview

2017 was a bit of a lost season for the Maryland Terrapins.

With two quarterbacks lost to season-ending knee injuries before conference play got started, the wind was out of Maryland's sails almost immediately.

2018 has the feel of something different.

KEY LOSSES

DJ Moore, Maryland's best player in years, was the No. 24 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and one of the Terps' best defenders of the last decade, Jermaine Carter, is headed to the Carolina Panthers with him. The Terps also lost a handful of rotational pieces on defense, but make up for it in what they have gained.

KEY ADDITIONS

For the second straight season, Maryland signed a top-30 recruiting class in 2018, and a handful of young players are talented enough to step in and play before long.

With quarterbacks Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome and defensive end Jesse Aniebonam returning from injury, each feels like a new addition to the team. Former top recruit Byron Cowart has made his way from Auburn to College Park and will be immediately eligible to try and jumpstart his college career. Additionally, former four-star recruit Anthony McFarland is ready to burst onto the scene after a redshirt season.

COACHING STAFF CHANGES

Five offseason coaching additions have added a new level of seasoning and experienced Xs and Os guys to the fold. The most notable replacement comes at offensive coordinator, where Matt Canada will be taking over. He's been regarded as one of the best offensive minds in college football and will transform the look of the Terps' offense. Other coaching changes were made in the running backs, offensive line, tight ends and safeties rooms.

SCHEDULE OUTLOOK

Maryland's 2018 schedule is not nearly as daunting as last year's, which was one of the most difficult in the nation. Instead of a road game against Texas and home games against Towson and eventually undefeated UCF, the Terps play Texas at home, get Bowling Green on the road and play Temple at home.

The Big Ten East presents its annual gauntlet of opponents, including Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. The Terps get a bit of a break with their three crossover opponents from the Big Ten West. Maryland plays Minnesota and Illinois at home and hits the road to play Iowa. Avoiding Wisconsin is a huge plus.

BIGGEST QUESTION

The biggest question heading into 2018 is who the Week 1 starting quarterback will be. Head coach DJ Durkin has said that both Hill and Pigrome are ahead of schedule in their recoveries, but the position is once again up for grabs heading into the season. Hill is the favorite and the unquestioned future of the program as the local superstar who stayed home.

PREVIEWING THE OFFENSE

Whichever quarterback ends up starting will be running a totally revamped offense. Canada's system will look significantly different than what Terps fans have seen in recent years. Maryland's backfield is one of the deepest in the nation. Senior Ty Johnson is on the Maxwell and Doak Walker Award watch lists — for the best player and best running back, respectively. Behind him, there are five viable options who could carry the ball.

PREVIEWING THE DEFENSE

There's a lot of turnover on defense heading into the season. More than half of last year's starters will be replaced. For a defense that finished at or near the bottom of the Big Ten in almost every statistical category, that may not be a bad thing. Cowart and Aniebonam could team to form a power duo of defensive ends. Terps fans should prepare for another year of highlight plays form Antoine Brooks and Darnell Savage.

PREDICTIONS

The influx of young talent combined with the transformation of the coaching staff and more favorable schedule should result in an uptick in wins for the Terps.

Texas Longhorns — Maryland won last year in Texas in Tom Herman's debut. Texas has improved since then, but so has Maryland. This game is a toss-up, with the edge to the Longhorns.

Bowling Green Falcons — Bowling Green won the first half of this home-and-home in 2015 in College Park, but the teams have gone in opposite directions since then. Maryland wins easily.

Temple Owls — Temple has been a slightly above average football program for the past few years, but are still transitioning after hiring a new head coach in 2016. Maryland should be favored at home.

Minnesota Golden Gophers — Maryland won in Minnesota last year with a third-string quarterback. Playing at home with a real starter should be an easier task.

Michigan Wolverines — Maryland gets a bye week to prepare before heading to Ann Arbor, which should make this game closer than some previous contests between the two, but Michigan still wins.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights — A holding call negated a game-tying touchdown pass from Maryland's fourth-string, walk-on quarterback last year. The Terps win easily at home on Homecoming this year.

Iowa Hawkeyes — Going to Iowa is never easy. The Hawkeyes have a tendency to play to the level of their competition, up or down. This is still a game that favors Iowa, though.

Illinois Fighting Illini — Remarkably, this is the first meeting between these two teams since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014. Illinois is one of the few teams that has been worse than Maryland in that time. Terps win easily at home.

Michigan State — The Spartans are always a tough test, and though they lost to Maryland, things should be different this time around. The Terps will have a shot, but Michigan State should win.

Indiana Hoosiers — Maryland won this game in a shootout at home last year, and some of the most exciting games the Terps have played in the Big Ten have been against Indiana. It seems inevitable this will be a close game, but the Terps should win.

Ohio State — The Buckeyes are perennially one of the best teams in college football and have never lost to the Terps. That streak should continue this year, even though Maryland is at home.

Penn State — Thanksgiving weekend sets up a final-week matchup in Happy Valley. Though not a "rivalry," there is plenty of tension between the two programs. Penn State will have to reload without Saquon Barkley or offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, but should still win at home.

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Maryland's seven-game winning streak ends in blowout fashion to Spartans

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Maryland's seven-game winning streak ends in blowout fashion to Spartans

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Cassius Winston and Kenny Goins scored 14 points each to help No. 6 Michigan State beat No. 13 Maryland 69-55 Monday night with balanced offense and stifling defense.

The Spartans (17-2, 8-0 Big Ten) have won 12 straight this season to take sole possession of first in the conference. They have won 20 consecutive Big Ten regular season games dating to last year.

The Terrapins (16-4, 7-2) had a shot to move into first place in the conference, but couldn't extend their seven-game winning streak.

Maryland's leading scorer, Anthony Cowan, was held to a season-low seven points.

The Terrapins connected on just 34 percent of their shots against the Spartans after shooting 58 percent of in their previous game, a 14-point win at Ohio State.

Michigan State freshman Aaron Henry scored a season-high 12 points while Matt McQuaid and Xavier Tillman had 10 points apiece.

Bruno Fernando had 12 points and 13 rebounds, freshman Aaron Wiggins had a season-high 15 points and Darryl Morsell added 10 points.

The Spartans missed their first six shots then surged to an 18-6 lead while holding Maryland to 3-of-18 shooting.

Maryland started making shots to pull into 20-all tie before Michigan State closed half with an 11-0 run to lead 31-20.

Winston, who had just five points in the first half, opened the second half with a 3-pointer to put the Spartans ahead by 14. He had a three-point play a couple minutes later, giving Michigan State a 43-26 lead. Goins made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 22 with 15:28 left.

The Terrapins rallied to cut their deficit to 11 with 5:42 remaining, but couldn't get closer.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: Cowan crumbled against Michigan State's defense. He had scored 20-plus points in four straight games and was averaging 17.9 points entering the game before being held nearly 11 below his average on 3-of-12 shooting. Cowan made a shot early in the game then was held scoreless for 26-plus minutes.

Michigan State: In its only home game during a five-game stretch, the Spartans showed they can win without injured starter Joshua Langford and basically without struggling starter Nick Ward. Langford missed his sixth straight game with an ankle injury. Ward was held scoreless for the first time in his career, limited to 14 minutes at least in part because he was in foul trouble. Kyle Ahrens, who has started seven games this year, returned from a two-game absence with a back injury and made a reverse layup to help hold off Maryland in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Gives up home game to play Illinois at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Michigan State: Plays at No. 19 Iowa on Thursday night and at Purdue on Sunday afternoon.

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A huge second half carries the Maryland Terps over Minnesota

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A huge second half carries the Maryland Terps over Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Anthony Cowan Jr. matched his career high with 27 points and freshman Jalen Smith pitched in a season-best 21 points and eight rebounds, leading Maryland's rally past Minnesota on Tuesday night for a 82-67 victory fueled by sharp free-throw shooting.

Bruno Fernando added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten), who went 24 for 27 from the foul line. Cowan, who also had six rebounds and five assists, made all 10 of his free throws as Maryland finished the game with a 21-6 run over the final seven minutes.

Amir Coffey had 16 points and five assists for the Gophers (12-3, 2-2), who clanked their way to defeat by missing 14 of their 23 foul shots. Coffey was 3 for 8, and senior power forward Jordan Murphy was 3 for 9.

The Gophers had a lead as big as 44-36 early in the second half and were still in front as late as the 13-minute mark, but Cowan, the junior point guard on one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, steered the Terrapins to a steely win that will look good in front of the NCAA Tournament selection committee in two months.

Smith zipped a cross-court pass out of a double team down low to find Eric Ayala for a 3-pointer and a 67-61 lead for Maryland. About three minutes later, Smith put the seal on the victory with a driving dunk for a 75-67 advantage.

With a win over Nebraska and a victory at Rutgers, Maryland started the new year and the resumption of conference play strong. This trip to Minnesota's cozy Williams Arena was a stiffer test, giving the young Terrapins the opportunity to win consecutive road games for the first time in nearly two years when they posted victories at Minnesota and Ohio State on Jan. 28 and 31, 2017. They went 2-8 on the home courts of their opponents last season.

Gabe Kalscheur scored 13 points, Daniel Oturu had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Dupree McBrayer added 10 points for the Gophers.

The Gophers entered the game with the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage in the Big Ten, but the freshman Kalscheur, who was just 6 for 34 from behind the arc over the last seven games, came through with three makes in five tries from long range. The most clutch of those was at the 7:50 mark, cutting Maryland's lead to 62-61, but the Terrapins snapped right back with seven straight points to retake control.

With the imposing length inside of Smith and Fernando, their 6-foot-10 duo, the Gophers needed to establish a rhythm with their outside shooting, but nearly every time the Terrapins employed their 2-3 zone defense they successfully kept the home team out of sync.

Coffey ran down a loose ball late in the first half to feed McBrayer for a banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:50 mark, and Coffey scored his first point with a free throw on the next possession. His turnaround with 32 seconds left before the break gave the Gophers a 40-34 advantage, and the junior in his first season as the point guard kept up his aggression to the basket in the second half.

Coffey's feed to Eric Curry for a short jumper gave Minnesota a 54-47 lead, but Cowan led another charge by the Terrapins after that, and this time the Gophers didn't come up with a counter.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Six consecutive Big Ten teams were just below the cut in voting for the latest edition of the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska and Maryland finished 27th through 32nd to give the conference 10 teams with votes from the 64-person panel this week.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: After missing the NCAA Tournament last season after a three-year streak of making it, coach Mark Turgeon's team has a promising nucleus that can only grow in confidence from this win.

Minnesota: Coming off a rousing and rare road win at rival Wisconsin last week, the Gophers bricked away their chance to build some momentum going into the heart of the Big Ten schedule.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Returns home to play 22nd-ranked Indiana on Friday night.

Minnesota: Stays home to face Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

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