Why the Maryland Terrapins Loss To Rutgers Doesn’t Matter


Nov 29, 2014; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback C.J. Brown (16) runs for a gain against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland Terrapins football had a very bad loss to Rutgers on Saturday. Having a 25-point lead evaporate, at home, is just a bad way to finish the regular season. But realistically it just doesn’t matter. And the reason it doesn’t matter is because Maryland plays now in the Big Ten Conference.

Face it. Maryland isn’t going to be in the Top 4 NCAA teams that that are going to play for the national championship. They aren’t even going to be playing in the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange or Peach Bowls, the other four games decided by the championship committee. So this is when Big Ten membership pays off.

The conference changed the mechanism and system of how their teams fill in open bowl slots. It is no longer done so that the conference’s Xth place team goes to the XYX Bowl. Really, it was never that specific or easy, but at least there was a specified order for these decisions.

The conference has a three-person committee headed by Commissioner Jim Delany that assigns the teams to the conference’s bowl games. They will look at geography, fanbase and other factors to slot the teams into certain games. They don’t want Penn State, for example, to play multiple years at the Heart of Dallas Bowl. They will rotate and keep destinations as fresh as possible.

What this means is that although Maryland could have finished 8-4, but instead stumbled to 7-5, their bowl placement is not really about the Terrapin’s record.

I saw the power of the Big ten Conference, even under the old system, back in 2011. Illinois started that season with six straight wins. Then they totally collapsed to a 6-6 record. Six straight losses that were so bad and demoralizing that although they were bowl eligible, Coach Ron Zook was fired before bowl season. But the conference bullied and pushed their team into a bowl (the former Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) that was above the quality and level they probably deserved.

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So don’t fret about the loss, as the Maryland Terrapins will still get a good bowl game out of this year’s up and down season. The Music City Bowl, Foster Farms Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl or Outback Bowl all look like good possibilities.