Coming into the college football season, every team’s goal is the same, to go undefeated and win the College Football Playoff.
For the Terps, the dream of a perfect season is long over, but the approach, according to senior safety Josh Woods, remains the same.
“To win every game,” Woods said when asked about the team’s goals at this point in the season. “We don’t change our goals or who we are, what we want to do based on one game. We lost a game. It’s not the end of the world, nobody’s hanging their heads. We have a lot of football left to play. Who knows what’s going to happen.”
While the goals might remain the same, the stakes are getting higher. Maryland and Northwestern are both battling for bowl eligibility and in the case of the Terps, Northwestern is one of just three remaining games on the schedule against an unranked opponent. Maryland needs three more wins to secure bowl eligibility.
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Given the stakes and the remaining upcoming schedule, some might call Saturday’s game must-win for Maryland.
“It’s a big game, but really we treat every week like it’s a must-win game,” said sophomore running back Jake Funk. “In our conference, every week there’s somebody beating somebody who wasn’t supposed to. Every week there’s something going on. Every team is a good team in our conference. We just really treat every week like it’s must win. So yeah, this is a a big game for us, but at the same time, mentally, we are treating it the same way.”
Woods agreed with his teammate that Saturday’s game is must-win as far as postseason hopes go, while again stressing their approach remains the same.
“We definitely need to win this game,” said Woods. “I wouldn’t say our approach is any different from any other game, just for the simple fact we approach any game like we are going to win it. But we definitely understand this is a must-win game if you are talking about postseason hopes and things like that. But we just want to get a big win at home right now.”
While some teams might struggle buying into 12 one-week seasons, the Terps seem to have embraced Durkin’s philosophy.
“We definitely have to look at it the same way as the coaching staff,” said Funk. “We don’t look at it any differently. Every week you are back to 0-0 and you have to be 1-0 that week. It helps you not overlook teams. And that’s the biggest thing going at the year week-to-week, really making sure you focus week-to-week, is that you don’t overlook teams and you don’t lose a game because you are looking on at the next team on the schedule. So it helps in that regard and overall it just keeps you focused. And that’s a big thing for us, where you just focus on one team and put all of your effort into that team.”
It’s not lost on the Terps that they aren’t the only team coming into this game looking to get right. The Terps will host a Northwestern team on Saturday that is coming off of back-to-back losses, including a 31-7 drubbing by Penn State in Evanston last Saturday.
“Getting beat by Penn State, they definitely are feeling the same way we are, in terms of they got beat by a very good team and we got beat by a very good team,” Funk said. “It’s two teams, really, that are trying to scratch and claw for a win right now. It’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be fun.”
As the Terps look to put last Saturday’s 62-14 loss at Ohio State behind them, head coach DJ Durkin is confident his team will do as they have always done, win or lose.
“Same way you always do,” Durkin said when asked how his team would bounce back. “You’ve got to bounce back from wins too. You’ve always got to bounce back, from week to week. The sport we play, the world we live in. You’ve got to put to bed on Saturday night whatever happened and move forward. Our guys have done that many times. I have a great feeling they will do it again.”