The 2014 Preseason Associated Press College Football Poll was released Sunday. Though not unexpected, Maryland did not receive any votes -- but its release confirmed one key detail.
Randy Edsall and the Terrapins will face a brutal stretch of games in October and November.
Four Big Ten teams -- No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 14 Wisconsin, and No. 22 Nebraska -- were ranked in the Top 25.
Four others -- Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, and Michigan -- received votes.
So where is that brutal stretch of games? It all begins Oct. 4 with Maryland’s conference home opener against Ohio State.
Oct. 4 vs. Ohio State
Oct. 11 OPEN
Oct. 18 vs. Iowa
Oct. 25 at Wisconsin
Nov. 1 at Penn State
Nov. 8 OPEN
Nov. 15 vs. Michigan State
Nov. 22 at Michigan
That means over the course of eight weeks, if Maryland is playing a game, it’s facing an opponent that received at least five votes in the preseason AP Poll.
Now, is the poll the be-all and end-all? Of course not. But it should give a solid indication of what Maryland faces in its first season in the Big Ten.
What works in Maryland’s favor? They get Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan State at home. A trip to Penn State is winnable against the Nittany Lions in 2014 and will get more unlikely next year and the year after if coach James Franklin keeps the program trending upward.
What’s a reasonable number of wins to expect over that stretch? None are guaranteed. There should be some sort of way to find one win in that group. If the Terrapins come away with two out of those six, they would be thrilled.
Let's aim high and assume two wins over those six games in October and November. Add that to the 4-0 non-conference start that is within reach, plus winnable games against Indiana and Rutgers, and that would make Maryland an eight-win, bowl-eligible team. That would be if everything -- everything -- goes right.
And that’s the big “if”.