Maryland Rekindles Rivalry with Virginia Tech in Pinstripe Bowl

The Empire State Building in Terps colors; Photo by Sol Tucker

Mike Locksley has finally made it to a bowl game. His long quest that saw the team come ever so close to a bowl appearance is finally over. The Maryland Terrapins are headed to the Big Apple to participate in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Terps face another former ACC foe in the Hokies; all of this while making their first bowl game since 2016 where they also played an ACC team, Boston College, in the Quick Lane Bowl. For the Terps, this bowl game which is pitting two 6-6 teams against one another might come off as a letdown, but nonetheless, it is a huge step for their program. 

Hokie Flummox:

Virginia Tech is one of the historically great football programs on the Eastern Seaboard. Any college football historian will agree with that claim as players like Michael Vick and coaches like Frank Beamer have all walked onto the field with Enter Sandman blaring over the loudspeakers. However, in the years following Beamer’s retirement, the program has struggled to find success without their legendary coach. Even in Beamer’s final seasons, the Hokies simply could not break through. Against the likes of Clemson, Florida State, and Miami (FL), Virginia Tech simply could not compete. The hire of Justin Fuente seemed like a home run early on, but he quickly soured in the eyes of fans. 

The Hokies have a glaring issue that has led to their systemic failure recently: they cannot recruit in the state of Virginia like they have previously. Virginia has become the newest hotbed for football talent, and with that comes a lot of big programs looking to poach talent. Fuente pretty much ignored Virginia in recruiting, leaving the majority of the top talent to go to other schools. Ultimately, Fuente was shown the doors weeks ago as the Hokies brought in Brent Pry from Penn State to fill the void. 

As for their on field play, the Hokies should present some challenges for the Terps. At least for the bowl game, the Hokies will allow interim J.C. Price to man the sideline. Price has used their rushing attack during the latter half of the season. Raheem Blackshear has been great for the Hokies, rushing for over 700 yards and six touchdowns. Maybe those numbers are unimpressive, but the redshirt junior has been imperative to the Hokies in their wins. When he is on his game, the Hokies are a different team. The Hokies also use quarterback Braxton Burmeister as a rushing option. Burmeister has nearly as many rushing attempts as Blackshear, although with less success. Regardless, the Hokeis are committed to playing tough, old fashioned football offensively. 

That is not to say they do not pass the ball as Burmeister nearly threw for 2,000 yards. He did not have great success doing so, though, with a completion rate under 60%. On the outside, the duo of Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson have main targets for Burmeister. Each of them have combined for over 1200 yards in the air and eight touchdowns between the two of them. 

Maryland Making Momentum:

The Terps have had a very tumultuous season to this point. An early strong start only saw them crumble in Big Ten play against the conference powers. The Locksley Era has finally seen success as the Terps proved that they are capable of winning games, however they still have work to do in order to catch up to the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. The Terps have never been this competitive, but competitive play does not result in wins, which is the bottom line for the coaching staff. 

Taulia Tagovailoa has been the engine for the Terps all season. As he goes, so do the Terps. It might seem redundant to say that a team’s quarterback is the driving factor in their success, but for the Terps it holds true. Taulia broke the season record for passing yards. Additionally, heis three touchdowns away from breaking the record for touchdowns in a season. His return, while officially pending, is expected, which is a very good thing for the Terps going into next season. Additionally, the announcement coming from Dontay Demus Jr. announcing his return after his season ending knee injury will be a massive lift for the Terps. 

Although the Hokies can throw the ball when necessary, it is evident that their gameplan is built around running the football. This will be a key matchup for the Terps as they have had a recent exodus at linebacker. The Terps will be starting three underclassmen according to their depth chart. Ruben Hyppolite II has been great, but the linebacker group as a whole has been a huge weakness all season. The Terps will attempt to set themselves up for future success with a strong performance in this game. 


Regardless of what is to come next season, the Terps want to finish the season with a winning record. Additionally, they want to maintain their edge all-time against the Hokies. Against an old ACC rival, there is no better way for the Terps to win their first bowl game in years. Furthermore, the team aspires to have something representing their growth and a large trophy would symbolize just that. The Terps are playing in “The House that Jeter Built” with Yankee Stadium hosting the Pinstripe Bowl. This is the first time they are playing in a baseball stadium since 2007 (Emerald Bowl, AT&T Park) and the first time they are playing in New York City since 1930 (vs. Syracuse). The Big Ten has one each of the last four interactions of this game, a streak Maryland hopes to continue. Above all, the Terps want to set a positive tone on this strange season and go into the offseason with a win. 

Game Info: 

Date: December 29, 2021

Time: 2:15 PM

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

Network: ESPN

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