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MnB B1G Preview: Maryland's schedule is a rough intro to their new conference

Checking up on Maryland's schedule leads this writer to believe that things are going to be rough for the Terrapins, but there's a lot of potential, too.

Y'know, I kinda dig the new helmets!
Y'know, I kinda dig the new helmets!
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland suffered some serious injuries when they lost both Stefon Diggs and Deon Long against Wake Forest last year. Even with those gentlemen hopefully returning with all of their ligaments, limbs, and bones intact the season could be a long one for the Terrapins.

8/30 James Madison

James Madison is the "Father of the Constitution", played a part in the Louisiana Purchase, wrote the Bill of Rights, the capital of Wisconsin is named after him, and I'm sure he is resurrected to fight evil whenever his country needs him. The football team at the university named after him, however, is not as prominent. They did, however, beat Virginia Tech back in 2010 and took Maryland to OT back in 2009, losing by only three points. I don't expect a shocking defeat or an OT scenario, so things should start pretty well for the Terps.

9/6 at South Florida

As I mentioned in my schedule preview of Wisconsin, who also plays South Florida, the Bulls are a team going in the wrong direction. Their win totals have dropped each of the last four years, going from eight in 2010 to only two in 2013. Willie Taggart had a lot of success as a player for Western Kentucky and the Harbaugh patriarch. As the Hilltoppers' head coach, Taggart took the program to a bowl game in just his third year. Although he won only two games in his debut as the South Florida head coach, he could be the guy to turn around a program that was once the #2 team in the country.

9/13 West Virginia

Like South Florida, the Mountaineers are yet another team going in a direction opposite of where they've been in recent years. Dana Holgorson took over the WVU program in 2011, won ten games, scored 36 points per game, and subsequently won only four games in 2013 and scored just over 26 points per game. It's so far from where they used to be that even Vegas hates West Virginia.

9/20 at Syracuse

This game would be super awesome if this was lacrosse! It's going to come down to some returning players for the Orange to be a successful product on the field. Terrel Hunt is the returning starter at quarterback; he passed for only 1,632 yards last year, but accounted for 11 touchdowns through the air and another seven on the ground (along with 500 yards rushing). Also returning on offense will be Jerome Smith's replacements: Prince-Tyson Gulley and Devante McFarlane. Syracuse won four of their last six games in 2013, including a 20-3 victory at Maryland.

9/27 at Indiana

Maryland allowed 225.1 passing yards per game and 18 touchdowns last year. Indiana averaged 306.7 yards per game and 36 touchdowns. You tell me what's going to happen here. Okay, okay, okay. I'll tell you. Maryland will still win because it's Indiana. Whatever Maryland's faults may be, they're still a better program than Indiana, but I think that this game could be close because Indiana's pass defense was terrible (290 ypg). Barn-burner? Possibly.

10/4 Ohio State

Going up against Ohio State after Indiana is not a great way to start your Big Ten season. It's Ohio State, for cryin' out loud! Raise your hand if you really think the Terps have a chance. Anyone. Hello? Yoo, hoo! Hey! Anyone? Didn't think so.

10/18 Iowa

The saving grace for this game is that it is going to be played in College Park. That just means that Maryland's loss won't be a blow-out. With Iowa's better defense (although questionable beyond the front seven), better running game, and Kirk Ferentz--haha, just joking--the Hawkeyes should take this one. They have to, because I predicted that they would be taking a shot at getting to the Big Ten Championship.

10/25 at Wisconsin

Here's how I think things will turn out for the Badgers this year. Don't feel like clicking the link? The Badgers are still going to be very good, and will make a serious run for the Big Ten Championship (needing to get through Iowa to get there). Wisconsin averaged 283.8 yards per game, and the Terps allowed 240+ yards four times last year. Although I generally like Maryland (really, I do) Wisconsin is just too much of a power on the ground to drop this one.

11/1 at Penn State

Well, the sanctions are over and Penn State now has a coach in James Franklin who isn't just a stop-gap. Add Christian Hackenberg to that mix, and Penn State is all of a sudden back to a dangerous team. Although, Allen Robinson's departure doesn't help at all. That's okay, though, because no one wants to face this...

Look at who is left at wide receiver: Geno Lewis. 234 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Ugh. James Franklin is a very good coach who should be able to get something positive out of what he has in the cupboard. And don't forget that the Lions still have Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak and their combined  1,792 yards and 17 touchdowns.

11/15 Michigan State

Big Ten Champion. Rose Bowl Champion. Knocked Ohio State out of National Championship contention. 'Nuff said.

11/22 at Michigan

Maryland has played Michigan only three times before, and they lost all three games by a combined 106-38. That doesn't bode well for this year's incarnation. That said, Michigan's defense can't allow itself to get torched by Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Let's not have a revisit of what Tyler Lockett did, okay?

11/29 Rutgers

There's no better way for Maryland to end the season than against Rutgers. Well...maybe if they ended against Purdue. The Terps are only 5-4 against Rutgers, with their last meeting ending in a 21-point loss to the Scarlet Knights in 2009. But this is 2014 and no one likes Rutgers. So it looks like Rutgers is the Purdue of Piscataway.

The Outlook

  • Sure Things -- James Madison, South Florida, Rutgers
  • Probable -- West Virginia
  • Toss-ups -- Syracuse, Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan
  • Thanks for playing -- Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State

Overall, the season is going to be in some serious flux for Maryland. There may be some potential to win more than six or seven games, but I'm not so sure this year's schedule will really allow for that to happen. I'm not 100% confident that Iowa is a guaranteed loss, but I don't think that they are necessarily a toss-up type of opponent either. That game could come down to something as simple as Byrd Stadium and the fact that Maryland will just be a different opponent for the Hawkeyes. In order to get to seven wins, Maryland will need to win three of the road toss-ups, or two of those and Iowa. Although it's a tall order, it isn't impossible. Consider that we aren't used to seeing the Terps, and someone could get surprised somewhere along the way, too. 7-5 seems appropriate, but 8-4 is there for the taking.