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Dwayne Haskins commitment could be turning point in Terps, Rutgers’ B1G journeys

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Rutgers and Maryland as rivals? It was just too easy to lump them in that category as the new kids on the Big Ten block ahead of their first season in the conference. Reality was, these two teams didn’t have a lot of history between them and a rivalry needed to spring up organically.

However, their end of the season matchup proved to be the most entertaining game of the weekend (if not the Big Ten season), and with Rutgers’ crazy comeback win it perhaps sparked something more than just wishful thinking on the rivalry tip.

Fast forward a few more months and these two were in a heated battle for four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Potomac, Md.

Landing his commitment was priority No. 1 for both schools on the 2016 recruiting trail, and as the process went along both became true contenders. Both saw gaining Haskins’ commitment as a way to spark an uptick in the future of their programs.

In the end, it was the two newcomers standing atop the heap and vying for an important commitment. Yes, Maryland and Rutgers were the two finalists for the No. 5-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. Hard to believe, but it was true.

Late last week Haskins made his verbal commitment, choosing to stay home and play his football for the University of Maryland. In that decision, Haskins made it known that the Terps and the College Park campus felt like home.

He also made it very clear that he wasn’t done recruiting and making something special happen for the Terps.

“I feel like Maryland is on its way and I think I can make an instant impact,” Haskins said, via 247Sports. “Maryland is on the rise. Me and a few players that we look forward to recruiting could make it special.”

However, for Rutgers it was back to the drawing board and option No. 2 at quarterback. The Scarlet Knights didn’t have to wait long though, as high three-star quarterback Anthony Russo made his verbal pledge to Rutgers on Monday.

While Rutgers was happy to have a quarterback commit for the 2016 class, there’s little doubt losing out on Haskins was a blow to what head coach Kyle Flood was hoping was going to be the class that turned things around.

Having a four-star quarterback who was top 5 at his position would have been a catalyst on the recruiting trail for Rutgers, no doubt about it. Why? It’s already been a boon to the Terps’ recruiting efforts for the 2016 class.

In fact, it was mid-interview after announcing his commitment that defensive tackle Jeffery Pooler made his verbal pledge to the Terps. While Pooler isn’t a major prospect, it’s just a small glimpse of the power that Haskins’ commitment could have on the program he chose.

No doubt that one player won’t make these two programs hate each other more…but it definitely will heat things up in the stands, on the message boards and that’s usually how these things are started. Someone has to be the villain in order for things to get really going, and Haskins’ commitment has the potential to be the final spark that ignites this rivalry.

Of course, that means Haskins also has to develop in to the guy everyone thinks he will. Lord knows we’ve seen four-star quarterbacks and Elite 11 participants flame out after coming to college. Still, you can see the vast potential for Haskins to change the fortunes not only on the recruiting trail, but on the field as well.

As long as that development happens, you can bet the fans won’t let him forget which side he “dissed” and which side he chose.

It’s hard not to see the decision made by Haskins as the one that could take a potentially budding rivalry in to a full-fledged rivalry — with some trophy to be named later too (because it isn’t a rivalry in the B1G without a trophy).

Should Maryland contend in the Big Ten East in the future and Rutgers struggle, look for this commitment to have a lot to do with it for both sides.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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2017 talking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards Special

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The Big Ten may have its awards, but what is the point of watching endless hours of Big Ten basketball without putting our two cents in, right?

Welcome to the 2017 taking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards special. Our hope is to educate you on the names that dominated our conversations and the hardwood across the Big Ten this season.

So, sit back and enjoy our special for your viewing pleasure.

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Terps Prove They Understand What it Means to B1G in Quick Lane Bowl Loss

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How do you as a new member of the family fit yourself in the mix? You either stand out enough that everyone follows you or you become one of the followers. In the case of Maryland, it appears they have the Big Ten postseason playbook down pat. 

What could be more Big Ten in bowl game season than losing after all?

That’s what the Terps did, dropping a sloppy and at times difficult to watch 36-30 loss to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl.

About the only thing that wasn’t very Big Ten-like was the high-scoring nature of this contest. That’s not to say defense didn’t play a big role, because it would be defensive plays made at opportune times that made this game high-scoring.

Boston College’s ability to turn four Maryland turnovers in to 10 points proved pivotal in the loss.

Just how sloppy was this game for the Terps offense though?

Maryland gave up eight sacks, 14 tackles for loss, were called for 11 penalties as a team and committed four turnovers. It was a miracle that things seemed as close as they did on the scoreboard as the game went final.

That’s because the Terps defense couldn’t find a way to get key stops when needed as well. Boston College put up 177 yards on the ground and 348 yards of total offense in what was expected to be a highly defensive affair.

The Terps were awful for large parts of the game, including racking up a single yard of offense after one quarter. It didn’t get much better defensively in the first half, as Boston College held a 29-13 lead at the half.

Despite the sputtering offensive start, things heated up for the Terps offense in the second quarter in large part thanks to sophomore running back Ty Johnson. He needed just 15 carries to put up 159 yards and two touchdowns, helping him top the 1,000-yard mark for the year.

Johnson did most of his damage trying desperately to get Maryland back in the game after Boston College raced out to a 16-0 lead. First it was a 62-yard rush just over a minute after BC kicked a field goal to go up 16-0.

He then made it 23-13 on a 30-yard scamper to pay dirt on the Terps next possession.

Yet, Maryland’s day was perhaps summed up best by what took place on either side of halftime. With two chances to set the tone for things to come, a 10-point game became a three-possession game as BC scored a touchdown with just 35 seconds left in the first half.

The Eagles didn’t let off the gas out of the half at the Quick Lane Bowl, taking all of two minutes to jump on a Terps turnover and literally turn it in to immediate points thanks to a forced fumble from quarterback Perry Hills at the Terps’ own 1-yard line.

BC jumped on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 36-13 lead and would never need another point.

If you enjoy sloppy football, the fourth quarter was certainly for you. That’s because we saw a Terps interception of BC quarterback Patrick Towels followed by a lost fumble and then a fumble recovery of its own.

All of that in a matter of five plays, including three penalties on consecutive plays (two from Maryland and one from Boston College). Let’s just say this wasn’t a quarter or a bowl game for anyone outside of the diehards of these two teams.

In the end, none of that would matter as BC’s 23-point lead to start the third quarter proved too much for Maryland to overcome. Yet, head coach D.J. Durkin saw plenty of positives out of what everyone else saw as a brutal sight to have beheld.

“We’re 6-and-7 now, so that’s certainly not what we’re shooting for.” Durkin said following the Quick Lane Bowl loss. “There’s a lot of positives. There’s a lot of guys who got better, who played a lot of football for us that were maybe not ready yet to play but we had to play them. The good part moving forward is they have that experience under their belt. There’s certainly a lot to grow from and move forward with our guys, understand our system and how we do things.”

That may have placated Durkin, but about the only good news from this loss was Maryland showing it wasn’t going to lie down and take a beating anymore. It fought hard in the second half, nearly completing the comeback but just simply didn’t have enough.

Considering the depths of this program heading in to Durkin’s first season, getting to a bowl game was nothing short of an unexpected treat in College Park. Now the work of making this team from bowl eligible to really and truly competitive in the Big Ten East division begins.

If the bowl game was any indication, there will be plenty for this team to work on come this offseason.

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5 Reasons to Watch Maryland vs. Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl

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We continue to whet your palate for the postseason by looking at the bowl match ups involving Big Ten teams. Today we continue with a look at the bowl in Detroit…between two East Coast teams…trust us, we’ll find something to encourage you to tune in!

After all, someone at 6-6 has to finish with a winning record. We think.

Thanks to conference expansion, the Big Ten now regularly fills the Detroit bowl game (it did not do so under the old Little Caesar’s Bowl contracts). Ironically, with this one being near the bottom of the line-up, the last two years have features Rutgers and Minnesota, two of the farthest places from Ford Field. Once again, long travel is in the mix with the Terrapins coming to the 2016 version to play a former ACC rival Boston College.

Here are five reasons to enjoy the day after Christmas with holiday cheer from the Motor City:

— It’s the first bowl game for the B1G, ending a 23-day football drought

If you’re going to watch all 10 (or 11) B1G postseason games, then this is your starting place. Plus, almost everyone has this Monday off thanks to Christmas falling on a Sunday in 2016, and what better way to avoid more awkward political conversations with your uncle and grandparents than focusing on good old-fashioned football?

Speaking of droughts, both these teams have gone a long time without winning a bowl game. The Eagles last won one in 2007, and the Terrapins in 2010. Thus, one would expect high motivation levels and perhaps a high level of play from both of these teams, despite their mediocre season records and rough conference play experiences.

After all, 6-6 is a lot better than 3-9, which is what both of these teams were in 2015.

Bottom line: you have to start somewhere, and this is where the journey begins for the Big Ten.

— Defensive masterminds at work

D.J. Durkin earned the Maryland head coaching job by helping turn Michigan’s defense around very quickly in Jim Harbaugh’s first season in Ann Arbor. While he may have a lot of recruiting and player development to do before Maryland gets to the same level, the defensive numbers were better than a year ago, at least in scoring defense.

Durkin was replaced at Michigan by Don Brown, the man who built Boston College’s defense into a powerhouse. Even with Brown gone this season, the Eagles put up impressive numbers (24.6 points per game allowed, 310.6 yards allowed per game) for being in the same ACC division as Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson.

Both head coaches Steve Addazio and Durkin plus their defensive assistants will have these units ready to hit hard and make some big plays in this bowl game. It should be low-scoring Big Ten style football at its finest.

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— Perry Hills’s last hurrah as leader of the Terrapins (and Caleb Rowe, too)

Perry Hills led the charge early in the season as a senior quarterback, and while he distanced himself from freshman Tyrrell Pigrome and his long-time QB split-time buddy senior Caleb Rowe, he eventually became injured and largely a non-factor in November. Not coincidentally, that’s when the Terrapins went on a four-game losing streak.

However, with most of November to mend and now December as well, Hills should be ready to lead this team once more in an effort to perhaps win a bowl game before he leaves College Park. Hills has been a steady presence since 2012 (redshirt in 2013), and with a 10 touchdown-3 interception ratio this season, he should be able to test BC’s defense without making too many costly mistakes.

Hills and any other Maryland quarterbacks who play will also be severely tested by Eagles DE Harold Landry, who has a NCAA-high 15 sacks so far this season. If Hills can avoid allowing Landry to become a factor in this game, Maryland will have a good chance to emerge victorious.

— It’s a true coin flip game with no clear outcome

The spread in Vegas has bounced around even, with Maryland currently being favored by about a point. The Football Power Index that ESPN uses to predict game outcomes has this bowl at a 51%-49% split between the two teams. Every metric appears to agree: nobody knows who wins this game.

That type of unknown outcome makes a game like this more fun and interesting to watch for outside observers with no dog in the hunt. After all, nobody really wants to see a blowout type matchup, which is what makes the new partnership between the ACC and the Big Ten for this bowl a great arrangement, at least when both conferences fill the bowl commitment.

Maryland’s best win came on the road at UCF, which finished 6-6. No other Terrapins defeated opponent ended with a .500 or winning record. Likewise, BC’s best wins came on the road at eventual 6-6 teams NC State and Wake Forest.

Whichever team wins, it will actually be a pretty big win compared to the remainder of the season. Unpredictability and high motivation in bowl games…yes, please!

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— See the uniforms and the future of the Maryland football program

Boston College represents the past for Maryland, and it’s a part of that past the Terrapins would likely want to forget. BC went 7-2 in this series over the 9-year overlap when both were in the ACC, and Maryland would love the opportunity to stick it once more to the conference that lost them.

However, this game should be more about the future of the program under D.J. Durkin.

With no bowl practices last year and not being hired until mid-December, this is the first time the Terrapins and Durkin will have extra bowl practices to prepare the young players on this squad. Look for some new faces to see playing time as Durkin positions himself for his second full season in 2017.

Plus, the uniforms. Maryland is the Oregon of the East, except with a garish state flag to wrap themselves in depending on what the color palate of the day is. As long as it’s not the covered in blood all reds worn against Ohio State, it should be a pretty thing to watch, especially in contrast to BC’s classic style.

So there you have it. As a former presidential candidate would say, please clap (and please watch). Let’s see the B1G get off to a good start with a win in this first bowl game of 2016-17.

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Maryland Terrapins: Around the Campus 2016

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Welcome back for another installment in Talking 10’s “Maryland Week” series. Although most of our articles for “Maryland Week” are focusing on football, this is our weekly chance to check in on all the other athletic success stories going on in the DMV area.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of 2015-16 and how that will project forward for Terrapins fans in 2016-17. There were some conference championships in College Park, so jump right in!

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Field Hockey

(Celebration was a typical sight this year, courtesy umterps.com)

The Maryland field hockey team dominated the competition in the Big Ten, continuing to own some of the lesser-known sports in the conference. The Terrapins put together a 19-4 record last fall, including a school-record five consecutive shutout victories in the middle of the season.

That record was good enough to win the regular season title going away, and then the gauntlet was set for the conference tournament: Michigan State, followed by Northwestern and then nationally-ranked (and runner up in the regular season) Michigan. Maryland rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Wolverines, cementing both Big Ten championships available this school year. Senior Welma Luus set a conference tournament record with 7 goals over the 3 games.

That led to a matchup with Princeton in the NCAA Tournament, a rematch of a win from earlier in the season. This was also the program’s 21st straight NCAA appearance, which leads the rest of the country. However, the Tigers got the best of the turtles, sending Maryland home before the rivalry with top-ranked Syracuse could be renewed in a Regional Final.

Four of the players earned All-American awards on the first or second team for this great season, including seniors Anna Dessoye, Sarah Spink, and Welma Luus. Freshman Linnea Gonzales also joined the All-American teams. She will be the anchor and leader of this team in 2016-17, as the Field Hockey program will need to reload all these stars from the conference title run.

Look for rising seniors Kasey Tapman and Emma Rissinger to also lead this squad next season. It will be difficult to maintain the high standards of 3 conference titles in 4 years, but do not expect Maryland to give up the championship crown easily in 2016.

Women’s Basketball

(Coach Brenda Frese, photo courtesy umterps.com)

Perhaps the most dominant team Maryland brought to the Big Ten conference was this women’s basketball program. Brenda Frese has built a coaching staff of great mentors over her many years in this program, and a team full of star recruits that benefits greatly from the mentoring available from this staff.

The dominance led to a 30+ game conference winning streak (including 19-0 last year) upon entering the Big Ten. However, that streak did come to an end this year, as Maryland went “only” 17-2 with two losses to Ohio State. However, with the Buckeyes taking on 3 losses of their own during the regular season, the door was opened for Maryland to win an outright conference title again.

Following that achievement, the team once again swept through the Big Ten tournament with wins over Iowa, Northwestern, and Michigan State. All wins were by 15+ points, which was improved over 2015 when Ohio State played the Terrapins close in the championship game.

The Terps were set up with a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and took care of Iona in the first round. Then against 7-seed Washington, a rebuilding team with no seniors, Maryland had one of its poorest shooting days on the season and the run ended right there. It was a disappointing result in March, but a great season overall at 31-4 (the only other loss coming to eventual national champion UCONN).

Looking ahead to next season, Maryland will need to replace 4 seniors including Chloe Pavlech, who is now in the WNBA. Of course, bringing in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class nationally will fill any gaps quickly, which is just what Coach Frese and company did. Destiny Slocum, a point guard, and Jenna Stalti, a center, are the key pieces which should see significant playing time right away.

Thus, while there’s potential for a small drop off for the Terrapins, it is more likely than not that this team will once again be at the top of the chase for the Big Ten title, so long as Coach Frese keeps going as well as she has for the past decade.

Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse

(photo of the Men’s NCAA Final, courtesy umterps.com)

If there’s one sport which Maryland does better than most Big Ten schools, it is lacrosse. To be fair, many of the other schools prefer tennis or hockey, but to each their own.

Starting with the men, the Terrapins took a couple of early season lumps from fellow top-10 teams Yale and Notre Dame to fall to 1-2 overall. Then this squad put together an incredible 16-game winning streak heading into the NCAA Championship game. This included a clean 5-0 sweep of conference play to win the league title.

In the postseason, the Terps first knocked out Penn State and Rutgers to win the Big Ten tournament, and followed that up with wins over Quinnipiac, Syracuse, and Brown to reach the Championship. Old rival North Carolina was waiting there, with revenge on the mind following a loss to the Terrapins in the regular season. The game went to overtime, and Maryland fell just short of winning a national title.

Obviously a great season for the men at 17-3, but the women also played well in 2016. The ending would be eerily close to the men, however.

The Terrapin women entered the season top ranked in the country, and they lived up to all expectations in the regular season with a 17-0 record. In the Big Ten tournament, Rutgers and Northwestern proved no match to stop the Terrapins as well. In the NCAA Tournament, Maryland steamrolled through Johns Hopkins, UMASS, and Syracuse to set up a Championship game against North Carolina.

Just like the men, the women lost this battle for a national title to the Tar Heels, this time in a 13-7 shocking decision. Maryland came so close to bringing home huge national hardware in this sport to the conference, but it’s a great season at 22-1 nonetheless for the women.

The men will lose 12 seniors to graduation, including Scholar All-Americans Matt Dunn and Henry West, while the women will lose only 6 seniors to graduation. Thus, expect the women to definitely compete for a national title again, while the men will need to rebuild a bit next season to get back to that stage.

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Be sure to continue to support and enjoy these other achievements that the student athletes are bringing home to Terrapin Nation now and in the near future.

Stay tuned as we move back out west to Wisconsin for our next in the ATC article series. Also, check out previous 2016 ATC articles already done (Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska). Have a great week!

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