The 2017 season is still several months away. But we never stop looking forward here at the Big Ten blog.
It may be ridiculously early, but we're examining the must-win game and the potential trap game for each league team this fall. Up next: the Maryland Terrapins
Must-win game: vs. Rutgers, Nov. 4 (at Yankee Stadium)
For the first time since both joined the Big Ten, Rutgers and Maryland won't play each other in the season finale. Instead, this year's game -- the "Big Ten Battle in the Bronx" at Yankee Stadium -- will be in early November, while the Terps end the season against Penn State. As the two newbies in the league with a lot to prove, Rutgers and Maryland made sense as rivals, and the first two meetings between them as conference mates (in 2014 and 2015) were thrillers decided by a total of eight points. The Terps won by 18 points last year to qualify for a bowl game and appear to have zoomed ahead of their fellow Big Ten East expansion school. Maryland needs to keep it that way, especially against a schedule that offers precious few breathers along the way.
Trap game: vs. UCF, Sept. 23
The Terrapins had to escape with a double-overtime victory at UCF last September. While D.J. Durkin's team should be better in 2017, the Knights figure to be as well. Head coach Scott Frost played a bunch of freshmen and sophomores last season, including first-year quarterback McKenzie Milton. Maryland has a bye week this season before hosting UCF, so it should be well prepared for this one. But if the Terps start peeking ahead to the start of conference play a week later, this can become a trap situation.